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Complete Your Security Camera System with a Public View Monitor

Most FFL’s invest wisely in closed-circuit security camera systems and have upgraded to the newer digital or network video recording systems.  But what value is there in installing a large public view monitor at the front entrance or over your gun counter to alert criminals to the presence and recording capabilities of your camera system? 

Installing public view monitors can serve as a strong deterrent to otherwise bad or illicit behaviors. Public view monitors are normally suspended from a ceiling and face retail customers as they enter a store, reminding them that surveillance video is being used.

Most security system installation providers will advise that you should include or upgrade to a large color video monitor to alert visitors and employees that they are, in fact, being recorded. Overt monitors today are sleek and lightweight in design and can integrate into any environment. And with advances in today’s camera system software, you may be able to utilize your monitors as digital signage and display visual promotional advertising, special event ads, or your branded message to anyone entering your store.

Walk into almost any gas station or convenience store, look up, and you’ll probably see yourself on a video surveillance monitor. This security “initiative” was created more than two decades ago in the convenience store, check cashing and “big box” retail sectors and has been proven by security professionals across industries that creating public awareness to an active security recording system deters criminal activity. 

Most criminals want to enter your premises discreetly and undetected, commit their crime and make a speedy escape with notice. And potential perpetrators often scout out their targets in advance, including taking a close look at surveillance cameras and monitors. If they realize they are unrecognizable, they may attack a location sooner than later.  A public view monitor and an active security camera system plants a nice speed-bump in this process! Public view monitors can also be reassuring to law abiding customers, who can see that a working video surveillance system is in place.

Another key element to having a good camera system and PVM in place is the placement of a high-resolution camera at the store entry to alert criminals that they are “being seen” as they enter with clarity and recognition.  This video could then be used later if that individual is being recorded elsewhere on the premises involved in any other illegal act or even an accident. You may not get a clear shot of the person’s face elsewhere in the store but you’ll still have the front door entry video to reference.

Depending on where you place your public view monitor, it can also help with general oversight by allowing store managers and / or employees to keep an eye on multiple areas at once, enhancing overall safety and security, and bringing attention to areas requiring additional service or salespeople.

Most security system vendors have incorporated the technology you need to display video from both your analog and IP cameras on any number of monitors placed anywhere inside your business. Each vendor may have their own menu set-up for doing so, but you can typically customize your camera views so you display video from specific areas of your store for the public or employees to view, in the sequence and timeframe that best suits your needs.

If you already have a public view monitor installed on your security camera system, congratulations!  You already realize the benefit.  But if you’re just considering this addition, realize that you’ll probably need to enlist the support of your camera provider or “in-house techy” to properly navigate the software set-up parameters.  You’ll need to understand how to optimize the display and not show all your camera positions to outsiders.  You’ll also need to understand other technical attributes including dwell time, grid size and possibly camera type when attempting to connect and setting up your PVM. Grid size is the number of camera views you want to see at one time, and camera type lets you select which cameras you want to display video from: only analog cameras, only IP cameras, or a combination of both (all cameras).

A Word of Caution

It’s important to note that enabling the Public View feature from your digital or video recording system may impact your processing power, especially if you’re displaying video from multiple IP cameras. A great rule of thumb to follow is to spread IP cameras over multiple grid pages, as opposed to displaying all IP cameras on one page of your PVM display.

Keep in mind that each person will have a different reaction to seeing himself or herself prominently displayed on a public view video monitor as they walk into your store.  But PVM’s are not new or intrusive to our everyday society. And you will instantly create an awareness that a security system is in place, more quickly than you would with any kind of signage or simply making your cameras visible.