Build a State-of-the-Art Wi-Fi Surveillance System to Prevent Crime and Safeguard Your Business
Like many business owners, you might be considering a replacement for your current video surveillance system or the installation of a brand new one.
It’s a wise choice.
According to recent national crime reports, surveillance systems can deter crime by more than 50 percent. Surveillance systems provide not only 24/7 monitoring but also comfort and security for your staff and guests. They can also provide evidence to protect you and your property from liability, vandals, and theft.
In addition, the speed with which surveillance technology has advanced has made security systems much more efficient and affordable for business owners. Keep in mind, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for every business. But, if you are ready to upgrade your surveillance system or build a new one from scratch, here are the top five things you need to consider to do it right.
Choose a Good Camera
To select the right camera for your surveillance system, you must consider what features are most important to you and what you can afford.
- Resolution – In the realm of security, you will likely choose a camera with 1080p or 4K resolution. 1080p is considered high definition (HD) and is usually the camera of choice for small and medium-sized businesses that might need to monitor a storefront or small property. 4K is considered ultra-high definition and is used by enterprise-level businesses that typically have the incentive and budget for 4K cameras. They are best if you need, for example, one camera to monitor a large parking lot and capture facial details and license plates with high precision.
- Web access – If you want to see what is happening as it happens, you’ll need an IP (internet protocol) camera that allows you to see your property from anywhere using a laptop or smartphone. IP cameras work with NVRs (network video recorders) to process and store your footage for later retrieval.
- Night Vision – Night vision is a must if you need to monitor your property overnight. If an area of your property is pitch black, you’ll need a camera with a 0 “lux” rating. (Lux is a unit of measurement for illumination.) For starlit areas, you’ll likely need a camera with a 0.001 lux rating. If you have streetlights, 0.01 will likely do.
- Monitoring range – For small areas like a doorway or hallway, a fixed camera is fine. But, if you have distant, expanded areas, you will want a PTZ camera—one that pans, tilts, and zooms. These features come in especially handy when you’re monitoring in real time and need to see people or objects more closely.
- Weatherproofing – For outdoor cameras and access points, you’ll typically want a device with an IP (ingress protection) rating of 66 or 67. You will usually find ratings from IP55 to IP68 for outdoor access points. However, cameras with a rating of 66 or 67 have pretty good airtight protection against dust and dirt as well as resistance to rain and moisture. A camera with a rating of IP65 could work almost as well but is better placed under a shelter to minimize exposure to rain.
Create a Separate Network for Your Security System
When installing an IP camera surveillance system, you will need to consider your site’s available bandwidth. Ideally, you will want to put your security system on a separate VLAN (virtual network) than your regular staff and guest networks to divide up the amount of bandwidth used by each and keep data safe from prying eyes.
As mentioned before, be aware that your higher resolution IP camera (4K) will be more expensive and provide sharper detail. Thus, it will need more bandwidth than your lower-resolution IP camera (1080p).
Separate VLANs prevent users on one VLAN from communicating with or accessing the devices of anyone on another VLAN. Just as you don’t want guests to access your business network, you don’t want general staff or guests to be able to access your surveillance network.
Use Power-over-Ethernet Switches
Unless you have only one camera and one access point at a location, you will generally need to install a Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) switch at each surveillance location. A PoE switch can have 8-48 ports, allowing you to power up multiple devices and deliver data through the Ethernet cable that connects the devices to the switch. For the purposes of a surveillance camera setup, an 8-port switch will usually do. Evaluate your situation to see what is right for you.
Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) is the latest in switch technology, allowing devices to run data and power through the same cable. And as part of a wireless network, PoE switches can save you a lot of money.
Connect Cameras and Access Points with a Wireless Bridge
Naturally, you will need power cables run to each surveillance camera and access point. However, you don’t need to run expensive Ethernet cable too if you create a wireless bridge.
A wireless bridge is a point-to-point link that connects two devices wirelessly so they can communicate with one another. Wireless bridges are located across the surveillance property and are wired to another device such as a network switch, IP camera, router, or access point.
Wireless bridges are also superior to wireless “repeaters” or “range extenders” because the signal from the latter two devices is cut in half every time it repeats. Instead of repeating the signal, wireless bridges carry the signal to a designated location, avoiding major speed loss and freeing up access points to do what they do best—send and receive data to and from client devices.
Use the Most Advanced Security Protocols
Use only hardware and utility software that adheres to network industry security standards and accepted network security protocols such as WPA2-Enterprise (the gold standard for wireless network security) used in conjunction with “802.1X for RADIUS” for user authentication.
Wireless standards and protocols protect and encrypt data as it moves across the network ensuring your sensitive business and guest information stays protected. Having the latest protocols ensures your business network will have the highest protection available, which is of utmost importance where surveillance networks are concerned.
Remember, every business is different, so it’s important to get professional advice about what the best surveillance options are for you. Nonetheless, the tips and common network terminology we’ve shared here are certainly a good place to start.