Small-to-medium-sized businesses (SMBs) have a number of unique considerations when it comes to video surveillance. For starters, with SMBs, managing security and risk often falls to a manager, store owner, or hourly security professional. Therefore, the convenience of being able to view multiple sites at once whether remotely or onsite is paramount.

In today’s current environment, video surveillance is an all-encompassing tool for SMBs for a range of operational, safety and security needs. The “eyes” video surveillance can provide is invaluable for an organization with one or a handful of locations and instills a peace of mind that can’t be achieved with other electronic systems.

“[Video surveillance] is really about the convenience of not having to be there at all times to know what’s going on,” says Jado Hark, multi-business owner of several former nightclubs and event centers in the Midwestern U.S. “To see what’s really going on, you have to have eyes everywhere and video allows you to access that.”

Here are three of the biggest use cases where SMBs can garner more value from their video surveillance solutions:


1. Internal Threats

One of the biggest risks SMBs look to mitigate with video is internal theft. Hark says that video surveillance can help deter insider theft or issues, but when it happens, it can also help solicit honesty. “Whenever I’ve had to confront an employee about something, [often] they will own up to it and or fix it once they’ve seen the video,” Hark says.

For Khader Safi, owner of more than 10 convenience stores, shops and businesses throughout Minnesota, employee theft is the biggest risk for his company. “It’s not that I don’t trust my employees. But if you have a burglary, it might last three minutes. If you have a bad employee, they are in the store everyday for hours at a time. [As an SMB] you have to watch where the cash is, transactions that are happening. Video helps you review incidents and give evidence to the police if it comes to that,” he says.

Another area of importance for many SMBs is backdoor, receiving door and/or dumpster area monitoring. Oftentimes, many businesses use video in place of or with simplified badge readers or access control systems in these areas. At back entrances, receiving doors and dumpsters, risk considerations for SMBs can be employee theft, improper dumpster usage and unknown visitors. If restaurants are having to pay for more frequent dumpster pickups, for example, they may want to monitor the area to see if unauthorized dumping is occurring.

In many cases, says John Krumme, CPP, Chairman and CEO at integrator Cam-Dex Security Corp., SMBs need to monitor back doors and dumpster corrals to see if items are being carried out of a store and placed in the dumpsters for later pickup either by an employee or someone else.

In addition to incident monitoring, Safi says another benefit of video for his businesses is the ability to use recorded video to identify risks or pain points of the business that weren’t noticed or seen before. “It helps me identify incidents. If there was a burglary, for example, I can determine how someone got in and work on how to prevent that from happening in the future,” he says.

Safi says that the on-demand nature of video surveillance is especially convenient and important for a multi-location business. “You can view on demand and you can review incidents when you need to. The speeds of internet upload are much higher than they used to be, which allows us to view video remotely,” he says. Safi always carries several flash drives in his pocket so that he can quickly download video evidence to share and give to police when needed.


2. Performance

In addition to employee theft, many SMBs find video surveillance helpful for operational monitoring and employee performance. Sara Eslamlou, head of business development at integrator ParSecurity Inc., Golden Valley, Minn. says that workplace efficiency is a big issue that can be measured with video surveillance.

“Monitoring employee performance or employee accountability is important to a lot of small- and medium-sized businesses,” Eslamlou says.

Are employees where they should be? Are they adhering to procedures and protocols? Are staff and visitors or customers adhering to social distancing guidelines? Particularly during this time of COVID-19 and into the future, Krumme says that he is seeing more and more examples of SMBs viewing their video surveillance as an insurance policy.

“So much of what we do goes back to liability. Store managers are using surveillance to make sure people are properly cleaning, taking necessary precautions and following the rules,” he says.


3. Peace of Mind

But internal thefts and liability aren’t the only risks and considerations for small- and medium-sized organizations. For many organizations — particularly those that have locations with lone workers or large facilities with few workers — employee safety and security is paramount. Contributing to peace of mind, video surveillance can also aid organizations with visitor screening and access management.

At Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church in Minneapolis, 26 cameras stationed outside and inside the building, along with monitors attached to an intercom system at entrances, provide the small staff with a peace of mind they can’t get elsewhere. “For us, video saves us from having to have a physical security person on site, but it also gives us a picture of what’s going on inside and outside of the building at all times,” says Wilma Gallmon, Office Manager at the church. 

Gallmon says that video allows the employees at Fellowship Missionary to keep an eye on locked entrances and exits remotely as well as from their desks. They have the cameras monitored and attached to motion triggers so that in the off-hours, if an incident occurs, Gallmon and another employee are alerted to an event and can view the video. The church’s intercom system incorporates cameras as well so that Gallmon can zoom in on a person at an entrance, use two-way audio to communicate, and remotely open a door if necessary to keep visitor access secure.

The cameras around the church’s perimeter have also come in handy for law enforcement in community policing matters, according to Gallmon. “We have had City police come in before and ask to see our outside cameras to see if they can find anything for a time period they are looking for,” she says.

For a store owner or manager that can’t be at every location at once or for lone workers who can’t be in all corners of a building at once, video surveillance provides significant value. In many instances, it replaces in-person staff and relieves smaller organizations of additional labor costs.

For SMBs, video serves as a tool for investigations and evidence, a tool for reassessing and navigating new risks, and helps instill a peace of mind that can’t be gained elsewhere.

“Video will always be there even if the owner will not be,” Eslamlou says. “Of course, it provides evidence, but it also provides a sense of comfort knowing your business is going to be monitored. It’s like a form of insurance. When you look at risk management, video is one of those keys.”