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Security Camera Blog

How many security cameras should I buy?

How Many Cameras Should I Get?

One of the most frustrating positions professional camera installers get placed in is guessing how many cameras someone needs on a business or residence. Putting up security cameras is not like putting up locks or an alarm system. It is very difficult to layout the cameras based on just building plans or even walking through a building without any guidance. Sure, you could put up general coverage of the exits and entrances, but it is kind of like walking up to a salesperson on a car lot and asking them to pick out a car that will get you to work and back. The salesperson has no idea where to begin without making a lot of assumptions or a blind guess. To get what you really want, you must be willing to provide more information and answer a bunch of questions.

There are many important factors to consider when deciding on the number of cameras that you need. Obviously, budget is one of the big ones for most people. I am not going to spend any time with that one because it is self-explanatory. Sometimes, however, it is easier to design a camera system when I know what budget I am working with. I have also learned that the budget a company will spend on cameras changes dramatically once people understand how they are going to get a return on that investment. Ask yourself questions like the ones listed in the previous section to get started. I have also made a list of questions below with some examples from my own customers. Many have benefited from multiple situations. How a camera system is deployed can determine how effective the cameras will be for helping in different situations. The more situations your camera system is designed for, the more it will benefit you and provide a good return on investment.

  1. What areas of my operations show an increase in production when I am around? Would a camera have a similar effect on these areas? Increased production is a great reason for security cameras. I had a recent client of mine that owns multiple RV lots tell me that the difference in productivity between the site that his office is at and the site two blocks away is almost 25% in productivity. Only months after installing the cameras for him, I learned that not only had his production increased, but he had discovered some employee theft and was able to let that person go as well. I have several clients that put up cameras to monitor smoking areas, break rooms, and other locations where employees hang out instead of work. Breaks are needed and expected in business. They can easily get out of control and cost an employer a lot of money in lost production. A well-placed camera or two, is a lot less expensive than two or three workers standing around telling stories for an extra twenty minutes a day. Production should always be a priority when setting up a camera system.
  2. What areas have high dollar items, cash, or potential for loss? This is the most common reason people seek out cameras. This is the cash register, the safe, and the sensitive office. Something valuable comes up missing and the boss now wants cameras to catch the thief in the future. Every camera installation for a business uses some or even most cameras for this purpose. Many of the home installations do as well. Cameras are great for keeping an eye on alcohol, money, drugs, jewelry, etc., when you are not around. One of the problems with having a security professional lay out cameras with limited input, is that the professional designing the system doesn’t know where many of your valuables are. They might not even understand what the value of something is. I have had manufacturers point to shelves of parts and tell me that certain items cost more than the rest of the inventory in the warehouse combined. There would be no way I could know this information on my own. Years ago, when I started my business in California, I used to do a lot of work for dry cleaners. I learned that in the dry-cleaning business, tagging the clothes properly and accurately was one of the most critical parts of the operation. We treated it like many businesses would treat a cash register. We would often have multiple camera angles and some close-up shots. Since this was before HD cameras existed, it was even more critical to get a zoomed in picture. Now that I have a better understanding of dry cleaning businesses, I automatically address these needs when I am called in to give a quote with a dry cleaner. Remember, even if a security professional has done cameras for years, it doesn’t mean he knows your business. You need to provide that information.
  3. What areas in your business have a high risk of employee safety or security? The cost of security cameras pale compared to a fine from OSHA, the loss of food handlers permits, a liquor license, or a worker’s compensation claim. Cameras give you the ability to inspect that which you expect. They protect you from LIABILITY. Most restaurants cover the kitchen and freezers with cameras much more than the dining area. Why? Because there is a much greater chance of an accident in the kitchen. Many of the liability issues listed above will destroy a small business overnight. If there is an area in your place of business, that has an extra exposure to risk, then cover it with surveillance.
  4. How would the use of cameras increase information flow throughout a company? Many large companies with warehouses have expensive inventory control systems that costs too much for a smaller business. A few well-placed cameras however, can be a change everything about inventory control. Imagine being able to personally have security cameras zoomed in on all your inventory shelves. When you need to know if something is in stock or needs to be ordered, just look. You don’t have to rely ONLY on paperwork that seems to be off only days after inventory is taken. Using your cameras, you can check from your phone and see what you have in real time. Another critical piece of information that can be shared through cameras is customer awareness. Many employees have multiple duties they must accomplish when customers are not there. It can be a challenge to get these other tasks done while remaining vigilant for customers that come in. Having multiple screens around the workplace so that anyone can see what is going on outside or in a back room might prove to increase customer service, security, and production at the same time.
  5. 5. Do I waste time looking around the building for people when I could speed that up that process by locating them on the cameras first? Everyone has experienced calling a company to talk with someone on the phone and the receptionist needed to check for what seemed like forever so see if the person was there. A trend with cameras today is to have a large screen near the receptionist so they can see around the facility in addition to answering phones. It is a lot easier to know if someone is back from lunch when you can see if their car is outside. Finding out how many cameras you need can be a struggle. Our recommendation, call the experts at Dixon Security and we will find the answer.

At Dixon Security we are security system experts. Call us at 801-455-0413 for a FREE on-site evaluation of your video surveillance needs.