It’s Time to Consider Expanding into Video Security

June 2, 2020
Locksmiths now can take advantage of easy design and installation options for CCTV profits.

Any small commercial or retail business experiences some sort of loss through crime, whether it be theft, vandalism or fraud. In this challenging environment, video surveillance or CCTV (closed-circuit TV) has proven to be a top security solution. For locksmiths who are confident enough to take the plunge into this market, the rewards are potentially staggering. However, it requires an understanding of the technology, its applications and the business aspects of selling and installation.

As the technology has advanced, with options ranging from traditional analog to IP-centric video systems that deliver higher resolution, faster speeds and incredible data analytics, the prices for your customers also are becoming relatively affordable as well. When it comes to buying and implementing a video system, most manufacturers offer a rather large range of customization that the locksmith can pass on to the client. Given all these facts and features, a locksmith can design and sell a CCTV solution that encompasses multiple locations or simply a smaller storefront business that has just a few cameras and a storage device.

Why Video Surveillance?

So why are your customers considering installing or expanding video surveillance? For most small businesses, security ranks as the top motivator for adding video to its risk-mitigation strategy. But there certainly are business and liability benefits as well.

Just be aware that working with a client to plan out a small-to-midsize video-security system can be problematic when you consider the variation in technology options and cost. Having a solid grasp on what the endgame is for the client can help the locksmith identify needs and minimize installation issues.

For instance, if a locksmith were working with a small retail or convenience-store business, traditional analog video probably is all that’s required for straight security, insurance-liability protection and cost savings in managing inventory shrink, shoplifting and vandalism. For larger retail or chain operations, the use of analytics as part of an IP-networked video-surveillance system might come into play. Store managers might use video to help increase employee productivity, monitor employee behavior or enhance safety in parking areas and stockrooms.

“All locksmiths starting to incorporate CCTV should realize that what you see on TV as well as other advertisements isn’t always a true perspective on the industry,” explains Bob Wimmer, president of Video Security Consultants in Landisville, Pennsylvania. He has more than four decades of experience in the video-security technology industry. “With all the online systems, one must decide what their clients need and not what they think they need. With so many systems available, not all can or will produce images that will be suitable for your clients.”

Doing Your Homework

Wimmer says that whether a client looks to implement a network camera solution or a nonnetwork camera (analog), their choice should be addressed by way of a risk-and-application assessment, along with a realistic discussion of budget and potential compliance issues. For locksmiths looking to make their initial foray into video security, Wimmer recommends sticking with basic analog CCTV systems before moving up to networked video.

“‘CCTV’ means closed-circuit television,” Wimmer says. “It is a closed system with no access to the outside world. If your client wants a system that will record activity and then have it viewed later if an incident has occurred, this would be an application for an analog or nonnetworked based system.”

He adds that asking simple questions upfront, such as the number of cameras that will be required, how the video will be stored and for how long, and who will manage the system and the data, is essential for planning.

Wimmer further provides the following tips:

  • All cameras require a certain amount of existing light to perform within their specifications. Even with infrared (IR) enhancement, limitations exist. For the most part, the lower the available light, the more costly the camera system will be.
  • Resolution is a concern. Depending on the application, the higher the camera’s pixel count, the greater the image detail will be. This is particularly helpful when an electronic zoom feature is used for identification.
  • Familiarity with networking camera terminology is essential. Many online training sessions on this subject are available.
  • Low-cost systems supplied by big-box companies can be problematic. The big boxes provide little information on their systems as well as poor customer support.

After doing the initial assessment and discussing specific features of the video-security system, the locksmith will have to work with the client to decide what types of cameras fit the job. Will they be stationary? Will they be able to pan, tilt and zoom in on a subject or area of the store? Is the light sufficient for a regular camera, or should the client consider a low-light camera? Will the cameras be in plain sight, or will they be covert?

Storage is another critical consideration that the locksmith will have to cover. Traditional analog systems employ digital video recorders (DVR) that are more cumbersome than the more advanced network video recorders, or NVRs, that allow IP cameras to be connected to a network that uses special Power over Ethernet (PoE) switches. Data on the NVRs can be recorded on a server designed to accommodate 24/7 operation, with large storage capabilities.

Remember that the DVR option is for smaller, single-site operations that require no future expansion and only limited storage capacity. The more advanced NVR is an expandable, multisite solution that can store data for longer periods with high-resolution images that are searchable.

Take the Plunge

As with migrating into electronic access control, any locksmith who seeks additional business opportunities certainly should weigh the advantages of taking on a limited CCTV line. Several video vendors cater to the small systems infrastructure, and they provide training and certification in their technology.