We have sold video camera systems for 15 years. So we’re familiar with the pros and cons of using them. And there are definitely advantages to their use. But on the whole we find that customers’ expectations rarely meet either the product sold to them, or the implementation of that product. The capabilities of the systems are often just not what the client thought they would be getting when they bought them, and the practical uses of them are generally not as productive as the expectation going in.
We find that most clients who bought security cameras thought they would be getting a strong deterrent to theft by warning off criminals, and that when there were instances of theft, the criminals would be caught based on video evidence provided by the client. This rarely happens.
In the real world what happens is that clients buy expensive camera systems and thieves are either too stupid, too strung out, or too bold to have taken notice of their presence. In the cases that they do notice them there they aren’t worried because they know no one is actively watching them, and even if they were it would take too long for them to do anything about it. And when the footage is reviewed later nothing of practical use would come of it.
We’ve seen countless instances of clients providing full video of theft to the police department and the police in effect saying, “Yeah that’s great, you can definitely see what’s happening”. The client then expects the police to go arrest someone. But who? The police have no idea who these shadowy figures are on the video, and no tangible way to identify them. It’s basically very interesting to watch, but useless.
One of the most misleading uses of video cameras are clients who have been told that they would be able to identify license plates of cars. This is rarely possible in the real world. You need a stationary car, the correct zoom, the correct backlighting, and the correct resolution and the correct recording compression in order to even have a chance. The entities that need this service use special-built cameras and setups that can cost $12,000.00 per unit. There’s a reason they’re paying this. Its not possible without perfect conditions and a captive car setup otherwise.
The instances where cameras are most useful are in close quarters, well lit, and in identifying which actions were taken, and by whom IF you know the parties involved. It’s useful to know whether it was Employee A or Employee B that walked out the back door with the monitor. But if the parties are unknown, there is rarely good enough clarity to identify people well enough to do any good, and no way of tying that person to the face on the screen.
We do recommend security camera systems for specific and attainable objectives. They are useful. But to effectively alter the situation a client is trying to fix, nothing beats boots on the ground. Just as in warfare, you can’t hold ground without an actual presence. All the technology and wizardry in the world, while fascinating to play with, doesn’t maintain a presence or move people.