Safeguarding Your Livelihood: Business Video Surveillance Best Practices

As a business owner you want to ensure your investment is well protected. From slip and fall accidents to robbery, there are many reasons to have business video surveillance. Having an effective business video surveillance system will help deter shoplifting and employee theft, while also proving quite valuable when trying to document injury claims by customers or employees.

The Evolving History of Business Video Surveillance Systems

Over the past several decades, the industry surrounding business video surveillance systems have made tremendous strides regarding availability and affordability. When video surveillance cameras were first introduced in the commercial setting, their high prices and bulky equipment scared off a lot of potential customers. Many small business owners couldn’t justify the cost of installing and maintaining a system, so instead they went without one. 

Due to the recent technology boom, that is no longer a valid justification. On today’s market, there is affordable business video surveillance equipment available to fit just about every business need. The type of video surveillance system you choose should be based on the specific setting and requirement for your business. No matter which system you put in place, these best practices will help safeguard your business.

5 Best Practices for Business Video Surveillance

1. Professional Installation of the Business Video Surveillance Device

Once you’ve chosen the desired business video surveillance system, best practice is for an installation to be performed by a qualified professional. It may seem easy to install the cameras yourself, but there are good reasons behind using an experienced professional. A professional video surveillance technician will discuss the best placement of your cameras, after completing a full walk-thru of your facility.

If you do choose to install the system yourself, please keep this in mind; understand the limitations of your cameras and system. You should also walk around your property—evaluating potential security threats and vulnerable areas for best placement of cameras. Use the trap technique when choosing placement; this is where individuals are unable to move about the property without being seen by a camera.

 2. Proper Placement of Cameras is Critical

Ensure cameras are in each of these areas in and around your business.

1. Entrances and exits.
2. Storage areas.
3. Points of monetary transactions
4. Work areas
5. Loading docks
6. Break rooms

Avoid placing cameras in sensitive areas that infringe upon privacy like, dressing rooms, hotel rooms, restrooms, etc. Privacy laws are different in every state as to what is allowable to monitor with video surveillance. Make sure that you know your state’s privacy laws before installing a business video surveillance system. 

3. Create a Standard Operating Procedure for Managing Your Business Video Surveillance System

 After you have ensured the proper setup of your system (again best performed by a professional), here are a few good tips for regular maintenance.

  • The system should be continually running/recording 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Make certain to secure and hide your digital video recorder.
  • Keep data stored on a digital video recorder or in remote cloud storage. Storage on a digital video recorder is a best practice preferable to cloud storage as it cannot have its signal jammed or hijacked.
  • Save data for at least 30 days.
  • After finding specific footage, save it to an alternative source like a thumb drive or external hard drive.

4. Store Data in a Secure Location

Business video surveillance footage may potentially contain sensitive information about your business and/or customers. All efforts should be made to secure access to the system. Login information (including usernames and passwords) should only be provided to trusted managers who have been properly vetted.  Written incident logs should also be created and kept near the business video surveillance system. The written log will allow any employee to record the exact time and date of an incident, in case the individual with access to the surveillance system is not on-site. Documenting the exact time of an incident can reduce the amount of resources spent attempting to locate necessary footage.

5. Never Delete Unfavorable Footage from Your Device

If there is an unfavorable incident captured on your business video surveillance system under no circumstances should the file be deleted or removed from your device. There are varying laws that work against business owners’ for discarding unfavorable surveillance. While it may seem counterproductive to save surveillance showing negligence or unfavorable facts, a claim for spoliation (destroying evidence) can create more problems than the original claim.

How to Choose the Best Business Video Surveillance System

Every business video surveillance system operates differently and saving footage will depend on your specific system. Your first inclination may be to select the longest available option for saving footage, but this may corrupt the quality of the video feed. Finding the right storage size can be a balancing act.  Remember, the best practice for saving video is to record at least 30 days’ worth of footage. This may seem like a long time, but not every incident will be brought to your attention at the exact moment it occurs. The longer you can go back in time to review footage, the less you will be reliant on verbal evidence (which tends to get more unreliable as time goes on).

After locating the specific footage, it’s important to save the video to a back-up source, so be sure to select a business video surveillance system that is easy for you to save externally. Since each system is so different, you’ll want to refer to the operating manual to determine how to save the video footage.

Video surveillance is an efficient way to protect your business around the clock while providing you with greater peace of mind! If you found this helpful consider reading, “5 Reasons Your Business Needs Video Surveillance.” Additional resources can be found in our Risk Control Library.


Jarrett obtained his B.A. degree in Criminal Justice from Illinois State University. He began his career at Society Insurance in 2008 in the Property, Auto, and Liability Claims department. While there, he earned his AIC and AIS and has spent the past three years in Risk Control.

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