This article was updated on September 26, 2018.
Criminals are a predictable bunch. They aim for low-hanging fruit: businesses with unlocked doors, large amounts of cash on hand and no obvious signs of security systems. Their plans aren't complex or detailed; they usually smash a door or window, grab money or product and then disappear. Smaller organizations typically cannot afford full-time security personnel and the kinds of costly systems that enterprises rely on, but cost-effective surveillance systems for business now offer a high-tech way to keep tabs on buildings and assets while making it clear to criminals their deeds won't go unseen.
Here are three new technologies to watch:
1. Digital IP Video
Historically, surveillance systems relied on analog video streams that use varying signal strength to create necessary variation in images, for example, bright/dark contrast. While the technology is affordable and simple to use for business surveillance, any attempt to duplicate analog recordings degrades the overall quality, rendering it difficult for law enforcement to identify potential criminals. Digital internet protocol (IP) video is an option that's quickly gaining momentum. Digital video uses numbers rather than signal strength to create an image, limiting degradation when copying video steams. IP cameras, meanwhile, are linked via the internet and able to store large amounts of data in the cloud, freeing up much-needed storage space for small businesses.
2. Video Analytics
The logical extension of IP-based surveillance systems for business is the introduction of data analytics, which allows automated intelligence processes to examine a video stream for any unusual activity, as noted by Wired. For example, analytics-enabled cameras could detect the presence of human beings in a video stream. If these humans are present after business hours and there's other evidence of criminal intent, such as broken glass or missing items, the system can alert owners and the police. Through user feedback, next-generation analytics systems can also learn and improve their ability to detect unusual behavior.
3. Wi-Fi Security
While most security systems remain hardwired to physical internet connections on-site, a new trend is emerging: Wi-Fi enabled cameras connected to smartphones or tablets. These new surveillance systems for business offer advanced functions such as two-way talk, automated infrared LED lighting and zoom capabilities. Users can also schedule camera on/off states for specific times of the day or week. Even better, live or recorded video can be streamed directly to a mobile device anywhere, anytime, via a secure application. You can check in on the business or stay in the loop in the event of a break-in even if you're on vacation across the country or halfway around the world.
Criminals are opportunists. Invest in surveillance technology to help limit their options and avoid making your small business an easy target.