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Self-Storage Security Evolves With Live-Video Monitoring

Surveillance cameras have evolved from simple recording devices into powerful operational and crime-fighting assets. High-quality, Internet protocol (IP) cameras watched remotely by in real time have become a must-have for self-storage operators seeking to reduce operational headaches and protect tenants’ belongings.

October 23, 2014

4 Min Read
Self-Storage Security Evolves With Live-Video Monitoring

By Brian Bland

Over the past few years, surveillance cameras have evolved from simple recording devices into powerful business and crime-fighting assets. High-quality, Internet protocol (IP) cameras watched remotely by in real time have become a must-have for self-storage operators seeking to reduce operational headaches and protect tenants’ belongings. In fact, live-video monitoring is forcing facility owners to rethink their business model and view their operation from an entirely new perspective.

The Problem With Analog

Traditional analog cameras once dominated the security market, but they’re quickly being replaced by IP cameras. Not only do analog cameras come with cloudy image quality and hefty costs, their maintenance is time-consuming and labor-intensive because remote troubleshooting isn’t possible. All service issues must be diagnosed and solved by a qualified technician during a physical site visit.

IP cameras, on the other hand, have image quality that can be six to 20 times clearer, depending on the number of megapixels. Monitoring companies almost exclusively use IP cameras because they require a higher-quality picture to see more details and increase the effectiveness of their service. They can also log into an IP-camera system remotely to resolve 50 percent of problems that arise, thus reducing onsite maintenance and saving camera owners money.

Monitoring Types

The ideal live-video monitoring service pairs security cameras with an appropriate Internet connection, then uploads the streaming footage into a control center where people watch it during scheduled hours. The other key dependencies are power and adequate lighting. The monitoring company’s goal is to identify and prevent crime before it happens by remotely blasting an onsite audio warning and running off trespassers. If that doesn’t work, it can communicate real-time information to local authorities.

A live-video monitoring center.This is the exact opposite of unmonitored cameras whose reactive nature is only useful for an after-the-fact evidence review. To stop crime, cameras must be monitored in real time by a company with expertise in the field. Unfortunately, some companies claim to monitor cameras in real time when they really don’t.

There are three types of video monitoring. Event-based monitoring typically has a lower cost but will be somewhat ineffective at reducing property damages. A company that does this kind of reactive monitoring will log into cameras and begin watching only after a break-in or similar event has been detected, for example, a perimeter beam is tripped. Depending on how quickly the monitoring company reacts, it may be able to prevent some damage, but generally, some loss has already occurred.

Video-analytics monitoring relies exclusively on automation to identify activity on your property and determine whether it’s legitimate. All reactive measures are entirely auto-generated, not verified by a human being, and the technology can’t tell the difference between a person walking in the distance and a bug on the camera lens. Many police departments have stopped dispatching officers to storage facilities with this type of monitoring because it generates too many false alarms.

Some video-surveillance companies use a combination of video analytics and human intelligence to watch all motion within the camera views on a property. This type of monitoring is essential for locations with outdoor assets and remote buildings.

Specifically within the self-storage industry, proactive, live-video monitoring has become an operational tool as much as a security one. Some of the benefits that help alleviate operational headaches while increasing facility safety include the prevention of perimeter breaches, the reduction of property damage, the reduction of vendor costs, and the avoidance of risk and liability issues. Some storage owners have even leveraged live-video monitoring as a marketing strategy by boasting the latest and greatest security at their facilities.

Self-storage operators can also customize their video-monitoring solutions to help manage their properties and reduce staff overhead. With all security standardized across a single enterprise platform, remote management of an entire portfolio becomes a matter of establishing clear business protocol. Owners can also take advantage of customized reports detailing possible follow-up items regarding security and operation.

The Future of Video

As some self-storage operators move toward a full property automation—with a kiosk that dispenses locks, opens gates and handles customer transactions—a live-video monitoring service can keep an eye on the property and ensure protocol alignment. As long as clear procedures are established and a user-friendly interface built into the kiosk, a younger generation of customers will appreciate the technology while storage owners will see a positive impact on their bottom line.

Brian Bland and his team at Stealth Monitoring have implemented more than 50 live-video monitoring designs at self-storage facilities in 17 states. These systems have responded to 850 incidents, setting off 600 speaker sound-offs and making 35 apprehensions. Stealth Monitoring designs, installs, services and provides live-video monitoring nationwide. For more information, call 214.341.0123, ext. 402; visit www.stealthmonitoring.com.

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