The Value of Video Surveillance: How the Investment Pays Off
By Ryan Skidmore | April 3, 2019
For small business owners who often have a narrow profit margin and to whom reputation is everything, the need to maintain the safety of their commercial property is not up for debate. Crime, accidents, natural disasters, and digital attacks have a potent effect on a business’s bottom line. Preventing these unfortunate occurrences from happening, and responding immediately if it ever does, is not only good for lowering costs but is necessary for maintaining high public opinion and the satisfaction of stakeholders.
When you compare the high cost of property vandalism, product or cash theft, accidental or arsonist fire, workers compensation claims, liability insurance rates, and keeping your name in good repute to the minimal cost of an installed intelligent remote video surveillance system, the answer is clear: Security is an investment that pays off big time.
To prove it, here are all the facts and stats you need to know about how video surveillance deters criminal activity and allows for quick response to any disaster, both natural and accidental. In turn, your liability will be lowered and you’ll be better enabled to make data-backed business decisions, ensuring your return on investment lasts well into the future.
Deter Criminal Activity
When crime hits, a small business can be devastated. Crime can isolate a business, deterring both employees and customers alike due to the associated fear. In turn, the isolation increases vulnerability to crime. Sadly, often the only answers for a victimized business trying to cover their losses are by raising prices, relocating, or closing.
The Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) has reported that of the 284,722 robberies in 2015 that were known to law enforcement, 23% occurred within businesses. The FBI has also reported that there were 396,467 burglaries that took place at non-residences (store, office, etc.) during that same year.
Between the years 2010 and 2014 alone, an estimated 261,330 intentionally set fires were reported to U.S. fire departments. Together, the places that are categorized as outside or special properties, storage, and mercantile or business accounted for 60% of these fires.
Having your place of business defaced or damaged costs you. Since graffiti sends the message that nobody cares, it has a tendency to attract other forms of crime and street delinquency and also negatively affects property values.
It is recommended that the removal of graffiti occur within 24 to 48 hours to significantly decrease the rate of recurrence. Thus it is good to be keenly aware of any vandalism that has taken place, including those at surrounding businesses.
Having a person lingering around for no reason is rare. Typically, someone may loiter around your property for any of the following reasons:
- Disturbing the peace
- Aggressive begging/panhandling
- Public drunkenness
- Solicitation of prostitution
- Drug dealing
- Casing for a future crime
- Gang activity
The following are all consequences of other people illegally dumping at your business or worksite:
- Dirtying your property
- Contaminating your groundwater and soil
- Creating a fire hazard
- Diminishing your property values
- Raised health and safety risks
- Costing your business money for removal
Whether during an active protest, after an upsetting sports team win or loss, or after a natural disaster strikes, looting happens. The frequency and level of looting are increasing due to the use of social media sites that make it easy for groups to swiftly plan, organize, and orchestrate looting sprees. The replacement costs of looted goods can be very high, especially for small businesses.
The OSCE has “repeatedly reaffirmed the threat hate crimes pose to the security of individuals and to social cohesion, as well as their potential to lead to conflict and violence on a wider scale.” In addition, the FBI has found that in 2017, 5.8% of hate crime incidents “happened at parking/drop lots/ garages”. That’s why it’s important to know if this crime is happening on your property and to report it immediately to the authorities.
Most crimes against businesses or crimes that take place on business property are due to opportunity. When there is a perceived lack of any preventative measures or surveillance in place, employees or passersby with malicious intent may take the opportunity for illegal personal gain.
Having a video surveillance system in a visible place is a good way to deter criminal activity so you can protect your business from loss and damage while ensuring the safety of your employees and customers and keeping your reputation intact.
Lower Your Liability
Accidents certainly happen. Working around large quantities of inventory and heavy equipment ups the risk, but no matter your business, plain old mishaps are bound to happen. Luckily, you can lower your liability by keeping a close watch on the happenings in and around your premises through the use of surveillance systems.
There are many different reasons why a person or group of people may trespass on your business property, but none of them are very good reasons. Petty vandals, protestors, transient people, and disgruntled ex-employees are some of the most common types of trespassers.
Since trespassing is often considered a civil matter rather than a criminal one, business owners should be aware that they may actually have a duty of care toward trespassers. This makes these people a liability to your business and is why preventing trespassers from entering your land or property is a good idea.
Deterring unwelcome people from entering your property, controlling who has access (along with where and when), and keeping close eyes on those who do trespass (even communicating with them remotely) are all benefits of modern surveillance systems.
Slips and Falls
These are perhaps the most common liability risk. Elimination of slip and fall hazards and training your employees on proper safety is critical for lowering the risk, but the possibility still looms. According to the Insurance Information Institute, people who feel they were treated callously or indifferently are more likely to sue.
Construction’s “Fatal Four”
OSHA lists the leading causes of private sector work deaths in the construction industry as:
- Falls (38.7%)
- Struck by the object (9.4%)
- Electrocutions (8.3%)
- Caught in or compressed between equipment or objects, etc. (7.3%)
Checking in and ensuring workers are following proper safety procedures could possibly mean the difference between a fatality and a “near miss.”
Civil Rights Discrimination
Unfortunately, workplace discrimination still exists. Even if you have fair business policies, there are times when employees don’t respect others. Ensuring equal employee treatment will greatly decrease the chance of a civil liberties lawsuit being brought against your business.
Having video surveillance can help separate fact and fiction in any of these scenarios, which can go a long way in proving your business is innocent in a liability case. However, being able to monitor in real time the happenings at your place of business can prevent many of these incidents from taking place at all.
Respond to Natural Disasters
No matter how diligent you are in keeping crime at bay and following proper safety procedures, one thing you simply have no control over is a natural disaster. Whether damage comes from wildfire, flood, sandstorm, earthquake, or falling trees, the sooner you’re able to see what’s happening on the ground (even in real time), the faster you can respond and the better your business’s outcome will be down the road.
In October 2017, the wildfires in Northern California destroyed at least 8,400 buildings, many of which were business premises. After the Tubbs fire alone, there were more than $1 billion in losses claimed by commercial properties. Having quick response times and a well-planned course of action is essential when it comes to fast-moving flames.
Should rising water approach your business, there are a few things you must do immediately to stave off as much devastation as possible. The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) offers this advice:
- Check to see if your utilities (electricity/gas/water) are still working.
- If the utilities are on, do they pose a threat of causing further damage?
- Make urgent decisions on the basis of what is best for your business and what is critical for your business to survive.
- Evaluate your stock and equipment and move them out of the water’s path if possible.
- Secure your premises to prevent further loss, damage, or looting.
Should you be forced to stay away from your business for any length of time, a video surveillance system can let you monitor for any further occuring damage or criminal activity.
If a dust storm hits an urban community, power outages and infrastructure damage is likely to occur. In addition, if dust enters the building, extensive damage to the computer and communications equipment can occur. Any of these things can have a negative impact on businesses. For this reason, high-quality surveillance cameras that can withstand any weather-related element are your best bet.
Fallen trees due to wind, heavy snow and ice, or lightning may bring down power lines and damage nearby structures or vehicles. Evaluate the trees carefully and from a distance by asking the following questions:
- Are major limbs still remaining?
- Is the trunk unbroken?
- Are at least 50% of the branches of the trees still intact?
If the answer is yes to these questions, there is a greater chance of saving the tree. However, it doesn’t mean there isn’t any present danger. Broken limbs dangling overhead may fall. Also, if any of the trees is in contact with electrical wires, even indirect contact can cause injury or death by electrocution. These are the reasons why it’s good to know ahead of time if you need to call in a professional arborist to make your property safe again.
Destroyed facilities and injured workers are a common outcome of experiencing an earthquake, but collapsed, toppled, or broken buildings, equipment, and stock are not the only consequences. Earthquakes can also activate sprinkler systems, breakwater and gas lines, and unleash mudslides…even if a business is far away from the quake’s epicenter.
While prevention of a natural disaster is rarely possible, immediate assessment and action before, during, and after one takes place is critical to the survival of any business left in Mother Nature’s wake. Surveillance systems help protect your property when any of these natural disasters occur during off hours and are invaluable during the event of an emergency.
Defend Against Digital Attacks
Many video surveillance systems operate over an internet connection, thus becoming vulnerable to digital attacks and hacking that will disrupt the monitoring of your business, which is why many businesses opt for a wireless system. Intelligent software detection that identifies and defends against digital attacks on the security system itself (system tampering) is just one way a wireless business security camera system can protect your business. Other ways include:
- Automatically retaining records
- Storing data off-site
- Intelligently compiling information (enabling you to make data-backed business decisions)
- Alerting of a cyber attack
- Remaining in power and online even when unconnected from the local power grid
With a wireless video surveillance system in place, you can be assured that your security cameras will be protected from digital attacks so you can continue monitoring and protecting your business.
The Value of Protection
When a Pro-Vigil Surveillance Specialist confirms a threat, they immediately activate audible and visual outputs remotely. This action is effective in 93% of cases, but when not, the authorities are notified.
Key Features of Pro-Vigil’s Business Security Systems:
- Client real-time access
- 14-day recording capacity
- 24/7 health monitoring
- Off-site storage
- Object tracking
- Intelligent software detection (for identifying and defending against digital attacks against the system itself)
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