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There are as many ways to set up a commercial security system as there are ways to steal. The features you’ll need depend on the risks you face and what you can afford. For example, a warehouse full of merchandise will need a different type of security system than a pharmacy.

Here’s how to choose a security system for your business.

Types of Security Systems

The different types of security systems are as follows:

  • Wired alarm systems
  • Wireless alarm systems
  • Wired video monitoring
  • Wireless video monitoring
  • Closed circuit TV
  • Intercom systems
  • Identity verification systems
  • Fire/smoke and environmental hazard detection
  • Lighting/HVAC/office equipment monitor

Wired Alarm Systems

A wired or hardwired alarm system will often use a telephone landline that phones the alarm company, police and/or fire department.  One problem with hardwired alarm systems is that they won’t work if the phone line is down due to bad weather.

Wireless Alarm Systems

Wireless alarm systems are a common alternative to a hardwired alarm. These systems send an alarm or notification wirelessly over a broadband Wi-Fi or cell phone network. However, if the cell or Wi-Fi network is down, wireless alarms won’t work.

If you choose a wireless alarm system, make sure the wireless operates over a cellular connection, which is generally less likely to fail than an internet connection.

Video Monitoring Systems

Camera surveillance protects all your assets, as well as your employees. It provides 24/7 supervision of everything that happens on your premises. Recorded footage can help to identify intruders and can be used as evidence in court proceedings.

Recording may be continuous or begin only when motion is detected, or a door or window is opened. It can also be pre-set to turn on or off depending on the time of day. Constant recording may be necessary for high-risk areas where security is of the utmost importance.

If employee theft is a problem, hidden cameras can catch thieves in the act, but the mere presence of a camera is usually enough to discourage theft. Video systems can also monitor employee behaviour to spot inefficient or unsafe work habits.

Wired Video Monitoring Systems

Wired video monitoring systems are more suitable for permanent and continuous surveillance situations. They don’t require batteries to stay powered, nor do they need slow or unpredictable wireless connections for transmitting and storing video streams.

Wireless Video Monitoring Systems

If you need to move cameras around or you don’t think you’ll be staying at a facility long enough to justify the cost of installing a wired system, wireless cameras are the solution. Installation of wireless cameras is less expensive, and in many cases, the business owner can move the cameras without hiring a professional to do it. The disadvantage of wireless is that batteries are required to operate the cameras and they need to be changed regularly.

Closed Circuit Television (CCTV)

Closed Circuit TV (CCTV) systems transmit a continuous signal to one or multiple monitors. If the area is high-risk, a security guard watches the monitor(s) for suspicious or dangerous activity.

Intercom Systems

An intercom system is a simple way to identify visitors before engaging a remote door release that allows them to enter your building. An intercom system could be audio-only, or it could be combined with video to provide a time- and date-stamped visual record of people who have entered and left the building.

Identity Verification Systems

With identity verification systems, access authorization is determined in one of four ways:

  • An employee identification card embedded with an authorization code that’s swiped in a card reader
  • A personal identification number (PIN) or a password entered on a keypad
  • Photo identification
  • Biometric recognition of a fingerprint or face for use where tight security is of paramount importance

Fire/Smoke and Environmental Hazard Detection

These Fire Monitoring systems detect the presence of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and/or heightened temperatures using sensors. In a similar way, low-temperature sensors can be installed in bathrooms, kitchens, break rooms and other areas with water pipes. Excessive water levels can be detected by sensors in these and/or flood-prone areas. Alarms can be sent to the security system vendor, police/fire departments, and/or other designated personnel.

Lighting/HVAC/Office Equipment Monitor

An equipment monitoring system is a cost-effective way to maintain your premises through the remote access control of your heating and air conditioning, lighting and office equipment. If someone forgets to turn off the lights, leaves the coffee maker on or neglects to reset the thermostat, you’re alerted by email. You can then remedy each situation remotely.

Customized sensors can even detect unsafe conditions within expensive machinery and send alerts, shut down the machines, or start a repair process.