Video Surveillance Systems: Everything You Need to Know

Table of contents

    What are video surveillance services?

    Video surveillance systems are networks of cameras, display units, and recorders used to help secure businesses. They do so by capturing business operations and criminal activity, then  storing recordings to be used as both a way to monitor business processes, investigate intrusions, and prevent future security threats.

    Video surveillance extends beyond just recording activity, however. They can also integrate communications protocols and emergency dispatch services to ensure the highest level of protection and threat detection.

    According to research from the FBI, nearly 60% of burglaries involve forced entry. That’s why, as part of a broader business security system, video surveillance is crucial to both prevent security incidents before they escalate and accelerate response times.

    Monitored versus self-monitored systems

    Security camera systems can come with or without professional monitoring services. If you choose a camera system without monitoring services, it’s your responsibility to call the authorities when you see suspicious activity or threats.

    The benefits of a self-monitored system are that you don’t have to pay a monthly monitoring fee but can still access recorded footage should you need it to investigate a crime or provide proof to your insurance.

    With a professionally monitored video security system, you pay a monthly monitoring service fee that gets you:

    • Professional security specialists who are there to respond if an alarm triggers at your property
    • Alarm verification, where security specialists can verify the threat is real before calling the authorities, improving police respond time and reducing false alarms
    • Peace of mind that someone else is looking out for your property

    Some monitored systems even let you view live footage in real time and even allow security specialists to intervene over a loudspeaker at your property.

    What is live video surveillance?

    Often, it takes more than just leading video technology to fully secure a business or commercial facility. No matter how advanced cameras become, reacting to threats requires a human component. That’s where live video surveillance comes in.

    Live video surveillance connects leading technology with expert people to maximize your security investment. It also makes footage accessible and safeguards your property with active teams of experienced analysts, ready to review incidents and react to potential threats in the moment.

    With a full view of your property and assets, analysts can determine the right response for every situation. Video monitoring teams implement a thorough review process and in-depth criteria for assessing all levels of threat, meaning they can minimize false alarms and be ready to dispatch law enforcement when necessary.

    Some live video surveillance systems—such as those used by Bay Alarm—also leverage artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze the most footage possible and predict threats before they occur.

    AI-powered threat detection works by analyzing high volumes of footage (and sometimes audio) to recognize trends and quickly understand abnormalities within a facility, including unlawful entry. Further, AI integrates advanced analytics into video surveillance systems so both business owners and security professionals can make more informed decisions in the future.

    Benefits of AI-enhanced security systems include:

    • A virtual fence around your property to protect assets even when there isn’t a fence
    • Automated deterrence, where a loud warning message plays when intruders cross the virtual fence
    • Live interference by operators who can interfere to warn intruders over the speaker while simultaneously dispatching the authorities

    All in all, live video surveillance turns reactive security into proactive security.

    What do systems for video surveillance systems consist of?

    A typical video surveillance system includes a network of cameras with 24/7 functionality. Live video monitoring systems may include more advanced features, such as dedicated agents and AI integrations. See the details of each component below.

    Video cameras

    Digital cameras lay the groundwork for modern video surveillance systems. Today’s cameras offer high-resolution footage, varying degrees of coverage, and cloud-connecting functionality. For low- and zero-light conditions, infrared cameras with ‘night vision’ are used to ensure visibility.

    Depending on your vendor, you will have a wide variety of hardware to choose from. For example, Bay Alarm offers customers a wide variety of choices, each with unique capabilities suited to the needs of a given environment or business type.

    AI-assisted monitoring and threat detection

    As noted above, some video surveillance monitoring systems leverage AI to enhance security. AI bolsters security systems by giving them the power to detect and report abnormal events or potential intruders in seconds.

    Live monitoring agents

    A live monitoring component means combines the latest technology with responsive and highly-trained teams of analysts. That way, your video surveillance system doesn’t leave anything to chance.

    Programs like Live Video Monitoring utilize cameras with AI to send live video feeds to our monitoring center when an intruder is detected. From there, trained video analysts will assess the situation and engage with the intruder via an audio connection on-site.

    On-site speakers

    Live video monitoring systems typically come with on-site speakers. The system can trigger an automated talk-down to warn intruders that they are trespassing. If that doesn’t deter the intruder, video analysts can connect to the speaker to inform the intruder they are dispatching the authorities.

    Phone app and web platform:

    In addition to dedicated teams, some systems allow you to view your facility’s perimeter remotely. These types of solutions include an app or desktop interface to provide ease of access in viewing. They also ensure only parties with the right credentials can see your security footage.

    What are the major vendors for video surveillance services?

    Bay Alarm works with a wide range of video surveillance hardware providers, each selected for their reliability, accuracy, and value.

    Our preferred video camera hardware and software solutions include:

    • Axis Communications
    • Chekt
    • Digital Monitoring Products
    • Digital Watchdog
    • OpenEye
    • YourSix

    In addition to Bay Alarm, major vendors for video surveillance services include:

    • ADT
    • Guardian Protection
    • Johnson Controls
    • Pro-Vigil
    • Securitas
    • Verkada
    • Stanely
    • Tyco
    • Vector Security

    Clients continue to choose Bay Alarm due to our unique combination of industry-leading technology and on-the-ground expertise. We go further than offering you the best in modern security camera hardware; we’ll professionally install your system and then monitor it from our California-based monitoring center.

    Our local teams know the business environments they operate in—and they have the experience to back it up. As a company, we have 75 years of security experience and take a community-first approach to protect what matters most to you. That’s why we’ve adapted and expanded our video surveillance offerings to give you options that include CCTV and Live Video Monitoring, delivering 24/7 monitoring, AI-integrated surveillance solutions, and remote viewing access from the convenience of your mobile device.

    How do I choose a video surveillance services vendor?

    Choosing a video surveillance services vendor is the first step to creating a cohesive video security system. Here’s what to look out for when selecting your vendor.

    Understand the services you need as a business

    Your video surveillance system will ultimately depend on the size of your business, the assets you’re protecting, and your budget. Rather than simply seeking out video surveillance broadly, take the time to understand whether you need cameras, live monitoring, AI analytics, or other capabilities described in the sections above. Other considerations include where you want your footage stored and how long you want it stored for. The more details you know about your own requirements, the easier it will be to find a suitable vendor.

    Take note of what equipment they use

    Not all vendors carry equipment that will meet your business, commercial, or residential needs. For example, an auto lot manager might require high-resolution, infrared cameras for low-light conditions. Other businesses may need extra storage for archived footage to meet local regulations or insurance conditions.

    View their services and assess strengths and weaknesses

    Once you know the services required by your business, check to see that a vendor provides them. It’s also essential to verify that a vendor has extensive experience working with businesses, properties, or facilities with similar profiles to your own. The best vendors combine technology, expert people, and a proven track record of excellence.

    One especially key competency is in live monitoring. For some, self-service video surveillance is not enough to provide comprehensive security. To fully protect your business against theft, vandalism, and trespassing, it takes always-on monitoring and teams who know how to assess all types of events. For example, Bay Alarm’s monitoring teams can engage with intruders via an audio connection on-site and are there to verify if a threat is real or a false alarm.

    Read reviews

    The best way to understand a vendor’s true competency is to consult firsthand reviews from past customers. That way, there are no outstanding concerns as to whether they possess both the right security camera technology and the expertise to leverage it effectively. To find reviews, you can visit websites like, Yelp, or Google reviews. Vendors may also publish case studies complete with testimonials on their own websites.

    Get local references

    Excellent security service hinges on understanding local environments and keeping up with relevant challenges—then using technology like advanced video surveillance to address them. To eliminate the guesswork involved with choosing a new vendor, you should utilize local references. These references can come from both businesses the vendor has previously worked to protect as well as partner organizations in the vendor’s network.

    What do video surveillance services cost?

    The cost of video surveillance services depends on a number of factors. Crucial questions to answer are

    1. How large is your business or premises?
    2. What are you protecting?
    3. What business requirements do you need to satisfy? (ex. I need my footage recorded on premises, I need to access live footage from anywhere, I need to protect outside equipment etc.)

    These criteria will determine the exact component configuration of video surveillance services. From there, costs are typically divided into major categories:

    • Equipment and hardware: Depending on the size of your business, you may need more cameras and additional hard drives or storage resources.
    • Installation: This includes mounting, wiring, connecting hardware to internet systems, and more. The number of cameras you install and the size of your business play a large role in the labor for installation.
    • AI software costs: AI-integrated monitoring systems may result in additional costs, depending on your vendor. Surveillance featuring AI typically runs on more advanced technological systems and requires network connectivity between your property and monitoring centers.
    • Monthly service costs: These include the costs associated with monitoring and analysts who review footage, dispatch emergency services, and assess situations to differentiate between false alarms and genuine threats. It can also include the costs to service your system when you need it, depending on the terms of your contract.

    If you’re curious about the exact cost of a modern video surveillance system backed up by expert monitoring teams, get a quote from Bay Alarm today.

    What are the benefits of video surveillance services?

    There are numerous benefits that come with a fully-equipped video surveillance system. First and foremost, video surveillance lays the foundation for proactive security—interrupting crime before it happens. Studies show that visible CCTV cameras are an effective way to deter thieves and criminal activity, particularly when it comes to vehicle and property crime.

    Further, they heighten safety and feelings of security among customers, employees, and visitors. As a business owner or property manager, promoting a safe environment pays dividends. From boosting employee retention to driving repeat customers, video security systems signal that you value safety.

    Video surveillance systems can also help you save on insurance costs and meet compliance requirements. Some insurance companies will not offer discounts to customers who do not link their cameras to a monitoring service.  

    Beyond just savings from insurance companies themselves, strong video surveillance keeps your business protected from instances of theft, fraud, or false claims from employees or visitors. 

    Finally, in the event a security incident does occur, video surveillance systems allow you to track down perpetrators and identify weak points in your overall business protection strategy. With readily-accessible footage, you have evidence of all events on-premises and, above all, peace of mind.

    Contact Bay Alarm today to learn about the best video surveillance system to meet your unique needs. 

    Start a conversation with a Bay Alarm security expert.

    1 (800) 610-1000