As a commercial property manager, one of your chief responsibilities is to protect the property’s value, which includes attracting the maximum number of building tenants. Making sure tenants are satisfied and adhere to building rules is a full-time job. Through the use of increasingly sophisticated and user-friendly video surveillance, such goals are more achievable.
Video surveillance has become more scalable and flexible than ever before. Mobile monitoring apps give users the ability to tap into their video system and see live recordings from a remote location, saving time and reducing property visits.
If you manage a multi-building site, like a corporate park, then a wireless internet protocol (IP) camera system might be the best fit. This nouveau generation of security—with mobile apps in tow—offers long-distance coverage of your property, as opposed to running network cables, which is not always possible between multiple buildings. Due to the high cost of trenching, it’s typically impossible to run network cables in these types of installations.
Mobile surveillance gives users instantaneous and unlimited access to the security camera system directly from a smart device (e.g. iPhone, Android or tablet) as long as the user is connected to the Internet. Thus, no PC or laptop is needed to monitor your property. If you’re unable to visit your property or want to save time in general, you can pull up the mobile app—as you would any other app on your phone—and see all of your camera views right in front of you.
If needed, building managers can search through recorded footage to check up on the day’s activities, easily sliding through multiple camera views and configuring them in different display modes for utmost convenience. Building managers can also capture and send image snapshots via MMS to local authorities to use as evidence when reporting an incident. This feature is inherent to IP video technology, which is rapidly replacing the use of outdated closed circuit television video (CCTV).
Mobile video surveillance apps are provided free of cost by virtually all manufacturers of video management software & network video recorders. There are several camera body styles to choose from, including bullets, domes and covert cameras. Traditional bullet cameras have a recognizable shape and are typically more obvious to passersby, whereas dome cameras have a more aesthetic appeal and are more discreet in their appearance. Also, many IP cameras today are vandal-resistant and tamper-proof to ensure that the camera is well protected against deliberate acts of damage.
As property managers begin to either implement or update their monitoring strategies, it is important to consider the balance between surveillance and tenant privacy, while considering the benefits.
Balance monitoring with tenant privacy
First and foremost, there should be a clear understanding of Canada’s guidelines for the use of overt video surveillance in public places. To comply with privacy laws, commercial property managers should have visible signage outside the front of the property to alert the public of its presence. If people object to the use of video surveillance, they can choose not to enter the premises. Also, transparency with potential tenants is key, property managers should note in their lease agreement the use of on-site video surveillance cameras. If the system is expanded in the future or cameras are moved, the lease agreement should be updated to highlight these changes. And while it may seem obvious, cameras should never be placed in areas where a high level of privacy is expected, such as a washroom or in the tenant’s rented space.
Unfortunately, accidents are an all-too-real threat that can happen at any time. Strategically placed security cameras throughout the property can provide an impartial picture of an accident or seemingly dangerous situation, giving an unbiased look into what actually happened. This, in turn, helps thwart frivolous liability lawsuits. It’s also worth noting that some commercial insurance companies are more inclined to reduce their premiums if they are aware that you have a video surveillance system on the property. Video surveillance can also capture environmental damage. For instance, if a tree were to fall onto one of your units, video evidence of the incident will save significant time when dealing with an insurance provider.
Check in on staff and contractors
Ensuring that contactors and staff arrive on schedule is critical for the upkeep of your property. By reviewing live and recorded video, you’ll know if your employees are productive and fulfilling their day-to-day duties. You’ll also be able to look at the work performed by contractors (e.g. maintenance crews or groundskeepers) to determine if it meets your expectations.
Identify unruly or illegal tenant behaviour
With video surveillance, you can easily monitor tenant activity. You’ll be able to pull up live video on your mobile device to check if tenants are following building rules and safety protocols. For example, surveillance video allows you to see if tenants are smoking on the property, vandalizing or abusing building property, or loitering in unauthorized areas. Video surveillance cameras will also deter non-tenants from coming onto the property to use amenities, such as onsite gyms, pools or parking spaces.
Capture criminal acts on camera
No property is immune to crime, which is why having a video surveillance system on the property is an absolute must. Security cameras are the ideal solution for recording any criminal activity that occurs, including vandalism, illegal dumping (e.g. tossing rubbish or recyclables onto the property), harassment, vehicle theft or trespassing.
To identify criminals, consider investing in high-definition IP security cameras over CCTV cameras. Unlike CCTV camera systems, IP camera systems with HD resolution render high quality images with rich detail, making it easier to identify criminal acts and suspicious characters.
High-quality image resolution is another feature of contemporary monitoring systems. High-definition (HD) significantly increases the level of detail in every image for easier recognition of objects and persons. Older analog CCTV systems deliver nondescript features that are not in alignment with today’s video surveillance technology.
Improve parking lot and garage security
Security cameras should monitor not only the building grounds, but the parking lot or garage as well. A modern video surveillance system should be capable of capturing license plate numbers, which can be used as evidence in the case of an accident or vehicular theft. License Plate Recognition (LPR) video analytics is a pioneering feature on IP camera systems that enables property managers to store and search license plate numbers. Property managers will find that the features available today on video surveillance systems can help allay the stress of managing one or more commercial buildings. Your job will become easier and tenants will experience greater peace of mind.
Ellen Arndt is communication manager for VideoSurveillance.com, a trusted security integrator with years of experience. VideoSurveillance.com provides customized video surveillance systems for small and medium-sized organizations worldwide.