The Pros & Cons of Surveillance Cameras

By Neal Litherland

With all of the concerns about security in modern society, surveillance cameras are often a proposed solution. While surveillance systems can be extremely useful, these technological eyes do have some drawbacks as well.


Surveillance camera systems can be expensive. The camera itself is only a part of the cost, and it may even be a reasonable cost if you buy a lower-end model. But you also must pay to store what the camera views (tapes, CD's or a computer dedicated to the camera), and you will need software upgrades, parts repairs and other ongoing expenses.


The key benefit of a surveillance camera is the security that it can offer. If you aren't home or can't mind the store all the time, the camera can record what happens in your absence. Certainly, a security camera can act as a deterrent to crime, but it also can be a great help in making your case in court if a crime occurs.


This can be both a pro and a con, depending on the intricacies of camera. If you are not technologically savvy, you probably will need to hire a security expert to install, monitor and fix your camera system, if need be. However, with simpler models, you might be able to handle some of that work yourself. Before buying a security camera, honestly assess how technically skilled you are, whether you would need to hire outside help to handle the security system and whether that cost would be justified.


For larger properties or businesses, you can buy several surveillance cameras to operate in a network. The view from each camera can be fed into a single control room and monitored by security personnel. This can save money in the long run, because it allows for monitoring of large portions of the property by a relatively small number of people. The alternatives: Hire a larger security force to patrol the area, which could be expensive; or leave the site unattended, which could make it vulnerable to security breaches.


Privacy sometimes becomes an issue with surveillance cameras, especially hidden ones. Many people feel that these cameras violate their rights. It could even become an issue in court if the security camera were hidden. However, even a visible surveillance camera also can cause problems for your business. It can create the impression with customers that there is danger or risk. The theory is that if a business must take security precautions, then there must be a problem.