Choosing the right security vendor is a bit like developing a budding relationship into a happy marriage. You want dedication, mutual respect and the ability to keep promises. Every self-storage facility has different requirements for its security system, so owners and operators should seek a vendor compatible with their particular needs.

May 28, 2009

7 Min Read
Self-Storage Video Surveillance: Choosing a Vendor

Choosing the right security vendor is a bit like developing a budding relationship into a happy marriage. You want dedication, mutual respect and the ability to keep promises. Every self-storage facility has different requirements for its security system, so owners and operators should seek a vendor compatible with their particular needs.

As a self-storage operator, you’re looking for actual protection ... not just the illusion of an impermeable perimeter. Knowing what services you have at your disposal will help you determine which security supplier can help you achieve the best system for your facility. Some sites need intrusion detection, keycard access, video surveillance or even a combination. This article concentrates on video surveillance.

Not all facilities use video surveillance. Some operators install it only to protect employees. Others use it to protect everything within the confines of the facility. Some go beyond the installation and actually monitor security cameras.

Why is video surveillance a good choice for your location? The answer is simple: It’s the next best thing to being there. You may have experienced theft or vandalism in the past with no clue as to who the perpetrator was. But with video, you can see footage of the crime and, in many cases, you’ll be able to identify the doer. Many businesses choose video surveillance as part of their overall security solution because of the nearly conclusive evidence it creates, especially during prosecution. They strive to get the most out of their investment.

Security Recording Options

Protecting your customers’ stored property helps your facility’s bottom line in more ways than one. You not only protect yourself against theft and potentially related lawsuits from customers, you create a service differentiator. You’re able to cite your security system as a feature in your marketing message and sales presentation—not only can customers store their belongings, but they are protected. This creates a sense of heightened security that influences their decision to choose you over competitors.

Video cameras and systems differ in their purpose. The security vendor you choose should tell you the methods that will give you the best type of image capture for your needs. More robust equipment usually costs more but can last longer, and will be able to be upgraded along with improvements in technology. Internet-protocol (IP) cameras, also referred to as network cameras, are an example of a robust product.

When seeking a vendor to install your video system, ask about data-storage options. Some systems record to an onsite storage device such as a digital video recorder (DVR). However, video hosting and offsite recording are becoming popular alternatives.

Offsite hosting and recording offers several advantages. Since the video is hosted online, recordings are safely stored off site. You also don’t need to worry about someone stealing or destroying your onsite recording device. And you always have access to the video when you need it through a Web interface. Since the video is online, you’re also able to grant access to first responders, such as the police, so they can determine the type of response team to dispatch.

Ask your potential vendor about its familiarity with video hosting and offsite recording systems. It’s possible everyone will be saving surveillance footage this way in the future. Some vendors might suggest you have local and online video-recording capability. If it’s in your budget, this is a good idea, as it adds redundancy and guarantees you’ll have video to present in court when needed.

Offsite Monitoring

Intervention specialists watch live video from a surveillance center. If they see anything out of the ordinary, they alert the property owner or the police.

Installing a video-surveillance system can help you mitigate losses due to theft or other crime. It might even reduce your insurance rates. If you use video in your security plan, however, it makes sense to have it watched or monitored.

So how do you manage the video? Your security vendor might suggest onsite guards watch the video feeds at all times. Or it might suggest employing a company of intervention specialists to observe from an offsite location. It might even recommend a combination of both. Outsourcing the monitoring function can actually save money because it allows you to reduce onsite staff.

Real-time remote surveillance, or remote monitoring, allows trained personnel with the appropriate equipment to view your surveillance system from off site. This is a security option used by a growing number of businesses. If you have real-time surveillance services as part of your security program, you have someone who can intervene while incidents are taking place.

Buying the Best

Once you’ve narrowed down your list of potential security vendors, determine which companies can offer you ongoing services. Using an IP infrastructure and offsite surveillance personnel allows you to get more out of your investment. But that means your vendor or one of its service providers has to offer monitoring. Does it monitor 24/7? Does the video go to a secure data center? Will it send you daily monitoring reports? Does it have a good relationship with local law enforcement?

Remember the old adage, “You get what you pay for.” If your remote-monitoring vendor offers to watch your cameras for only $30 per month, you’ll likely be disappointed. Understand, this type of monitoring will probably only include watching the video after an alarm has been triggered. It will probably miss the events leading up to the alarm.

If, on the other hand, you hire people to watch your cameras proactively, expect to pay for their time. Consider the return on this investment when compared to hiring onsite security personnel, which involves utilities, staff turnover, etc. Some self-storage companies have saved 56 percent a month by switching from onsite security guards to remote video surveillance.

Choosing a video-security vendor that is able to deliver the right surveillance system for your facility can be tough. But there are companies with the all the resources your business needs. After a few “blind dates” with various prospects, you’ll have enough information to make an informed choice. 

Bryce Witcher is the marketing manager for Mesa, Ariz.-based Iveda Solutions, a full-service company specializing in IP video hosting and real-time remote surveillance. For more information, visit

Remote Video: What You Need to Know

Here is a list of questions to ask potential security vendors when implementing a remote video-surveillance system or service:

  • Can I use my existing analog CCTV cameras?

  • Should I invest in quality network cameras?

  • Should my cameras be stationary or movable (pan-tilt-zoom)?

  • Should my cameras be hidden or exposed?

  • How many and which cameras need to be watched and/or recorded? For how many hours per day?

  • Does my surveillance system allow for hosted video and real-time remote surveillance?

  • Does the system allow my existing security staff to monitor the site?

  • Can I outsource staff to monitor my facility? What kind of daily reporting or audit trail comes with the service?

  • Will the offsite surveillance team call me or the police if something happens on my property?

  • Can multiple first responders (i.e., police or fire department) access my cameras simultaneously without degrading video quality?

  • How can I access my cameras’ recorded or live video?

  • Should I have onsite recording? How will you deliver?

  • How can I keep permanent archives of select events?

  • How many days’ worth of recorded video do I need to keep at all times?

  • What kind of data infrastructure or Internet bandwidth will support my video needs?

  • Do I have, or will my integrator install, the necessary infrastructure for my security application?

  • Does the service use a data center? If so, how secure is it?

  • Is my system scalable? Does it allow for future flexibility?

Related Articles:

Digital Video Surveillance: A Modern Security Solution 

The ABCs of Video Surveillance 

Monitored Surveillance: The Risk of Security Words 

16-Camera System Is Toast—Open to Ideas [Self-Storage Talk]

Security Cameras & Equipment Question [Self-Storage Talk]

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