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Evaluating Business Security Options: Camera Systems or Security Guards?

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    Crime prevention is a pivotal part of running a successful business. From theft to trespassing to vandalism, being the victim of a crime can have serious repercussions for even the stablest organizations. That’s why a security plan is so important.

    There are two primary options for business security — hiring a team of security guards or using security cameras.

    Are you on the fence trying to choose between hiring security guards or installing a camera security system? That’s understandable, especially because security technology is rapidly advancing, and, naturally, having a significant impact on traditional security protocols, including the employment of security guards.

    Fortunately, this blog can help to clear things up. Below, we highlight some of the most important distinctions between security systems and security guards to help you make an informed decision for your business.

    Cost Comparison

    Let’s start with everyone’s favorite topic: Finances.

    Hiring a security guard and installing a security system both cost money. The costs are dramatically different, though.

    The average security guard earns $38,723 per year. The average security system costs far less than this to install and maintain (the actual price varies based on several factors, including the number of cameras installed, the additional features purchased, the monitoring requirements, etc.).

    If you’re looking for a budget-friendly way to protect your business, security cameras are generally going to be the best way to go. They might cost more upfront, but they will save you a lot of money throughout the year.

    24/7/365 Surveillance

    Security cameras don’t need holiday pay or overtime pay. They can run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days per year for free (except for the cost of running and maintaining them, of course).

    If you rely only on security guards, you may have to pay extra if you want them to patrol your business on weekends, holidays, etc.

    In some cases, that additional cost is worthwhile, especially when you consider the fact that theft and other crimes are more likely to occur during these times. However, if you don’t have the budget for that level of surveillance, you may prefer to use a security camera system.

    Reliability Factors

    When choosing between security guards and cameras, you must also consider the reliability of each option.

    It’s easy to assume that security technology is infallible and more reliable than security guards. That’s not always the case, though. Cameras can go down, malfunction, or need repairs. Conversely, security guards can also miss important details or fail to react fast enough in certain situations.

    Those are the reliability-related drawbacks, now, what about the advantages? With security technology, you can experience continuous recording from multiple angles. Security guards can only be in one place at a time.

    However, security guards offer a human touch and the gift of discernment. They can identify threats more accurately and respond appropriately based on what the situation demands.

    Complementary Views and Quick Response

    Building off the idea that both security systems and security guards have advantages and disadvantages, it’s also important to note that cameras can augment the capabilities of security guards.

    Cameras provide guards with access to different viewpoints, effectively allowing them to have eyes on multiple locations simultaneously. Because cameras provide multiple views at once, they also allow for faster response times from security guards​​.

    A camera, by itself, can only do so much to prevent someone from burglarizing or vandalizing your business. Combined with the efforts and expertise of a security guard, though, they can alert the guard to a potential problem and help them respond as quickly as possible.

    Deterring Criminal Activity

    Both visible security guards and visible camera systems can deter criminal activity. Research shows that the presence of cameras can prevent crime, as can the presence of security guards.

    Based on the data, it’s safe to say that either installing cameras or hiring security guards (or a combination of the two) can protect your business and decrease the likelihood that you will be the victim of theft, vandalism, trespassing, etc.

    Deployment and Training

    Security cameras are relatively easy to set up. Once they’re installed, they can start recording your business right away.

    Security guards can begin patrolling your property right away, too. However, it can take longer to find the right person for the job, officially hire them, onboard them, teach them the basics of your business, etc.

    If you’re looking for an immediate solution, security cameras will generally be much quicker. Perhaps you can install them first and then work on hiring security guards to act as complements to the surveillance system.

    Evidence Gathering and Legal Benefits

    Eyewitnesses are notoriously unreliable. Video recordings, though, are a different story. Camera systems can be used to gather irrefutable evidence, which can help with legal processes and allow you to get the outcome you deserve.

    For example, say your business is burglarized. If you have security cameras recording the burglary, you have proof that someone did enter your business and take things without paying. You also, in some cases, will have video footage that can be used to identify them (either by their looks or by the license plate of their vehicle, or both).

    It’s hard to argue with video footage. Suppose you’re only relying on other people’s perceptions of what happened, though, or their idea of who the person was that broke into your building. In that case, there’s a risk of incriminating the wrong person or not getting the support you need to rebuild and get back to business as usual.

    Enhancing Safety Plans

    Security guards can play a vital role in managing conflicts and emergencies.

    If a conflict arises between an employee and a customer, for example, or someone attempts to enter the business and cause problems, the guard can step in and diffuse the situation. In an emergency, such as a fire or an active shooter situation, the security guard can also help to direct people out of the building and away from harm.

    Camera surveillance​​ can also contribute to these situations. They provide footage that can be reviewed to identify potential vulnerabilities in your company’s safety plan. Once you know these vulnerabilities, you can make changes that protect the business in the future and make it more resilient against crime moving forward.

    Extending Surveillance Scope

    Security camera systems have the ability to monitor remote and extensive areas, including those that may be inaccessible to guards​​.

    For example, say you’re in the process of constructing a new building for your business. It can be difficult for one security guard to supervise the entire construction site effectively, especially at night.

    Installing cameras helps the guard keep a closer eye on different parts of the site and ensure it stays safe around the clock.

    Bonus Tips for Conducting a Business Security Assessment

    Often, the decision to hire security guards or install a camera monitoring system comes down to the results of a security assessment. Based on what you learn from that review, you can determine which approach makes the most sense.

    Here are some tips that can help you conduct a successful assessment:

    Identify Assets

    The first step is to identify all of your business’s assets, both physical and digital. Then, assign a value and level of importance to each asset.

    Taking this step can help you understand what aspects of your company you need to protect the most. For example, you might want to assign a security guard to stand near a particular display case or set up a camera over a specific area of the store where high-value items are located.

    Identify Vulnerabilities

    Next, evaluate your business and look for potential security vulnerabilities. Is there a part of the building that is difficult for a security guard to see, for example? If so, it would be a good idea to set up a security camera in that location to provide additional protection.

    Consider Potential Threats

    While identifying vulnerabilities, it’s also important to consider the threats that are most likely to affect your business. Think about crimes that have affected other companies in the area, as well as other businesses like yours, to create a more comprehensive list of threats.

    Analyze Risk

    Once you have an idea of the threats that might affect your business, the next step is to assess the risk and the likelihood that each of these threats may occur.

    Develop and Implement Mitigation Strategies

    From here, you can start devising a plan to mitigate the chances of your business being victimized. When creating a plan, be sure to think of both preventative and reactive measures.

    For example, setting up cameras is a good preventative step that can deter crime and keep your business safe.

    Document Everything

    Be sure to document your security plan in detail. This documentation will come in handy when it comes to training new employees and security personnel.

    When you’ve finished, remember to keep your documentation in a safe place. If it falls into the wrong hands, it could compromise your business.

    Continuously Evaluate and Adapt

    Remember that security planning is an ongoing process. It’s not a one-time thing. Once you’ve developed and implemented your security plan, it’s essential that you continuously evaluate it and make changes as needed.

    Avoid Common Mistakes

    While you’re conducting your security assessment and putting together a safety plan, it’s vital that you avoid making these common mistakes:

    • Starting too late: Don’t wait until your business has already been victimized. Be proactive and start early.
    • Don’t focus on only one type of asset: Many business owners focus only on one type of asset; consider all of them, though, from digital to physical.
    • Don’t skip the asset and vulnerability identification: These steps are critical. If you skip them, you might overlook vulnerabilities and increase your business’s chances of being victimized.


    After reading through these comparisons, what do you think? Are you leaning more toward hiring security guards or installing cameras? Are you still unsure?

    The good news is that you don’t necessarily have to choose between security guards and security cameras. You can combine the two to create a more balanced approach. Keep your unique business needs and the results of your security assessment in mind so you can make the most informed decision.

    Are you interested in purchasing a camera monitoring system for your company? If so, Mobile Video Guard has a range of solutions for you to choose from. Get in touch today to learn more or get a free quote.


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