Video Surveillance - Good For Customers, Headaches For Businesses?

As video surveillance becomes more common in smaller businesses and as it gets easier to share video surveillance feeds, new opportunities and problems arise.

One positive is the ability to share those feeds with customers who have left items or loved ones with the business (e.g., schools, pet boarding), allowing the customers to check in.

However, some businesses are increasingly seeing this as a burden.

This is an interesting article about the frustrations of pet boarding providers. Key quotes include:

With CCTV, I’m getting constant messages, demanding I go over quickly because the dog upset his water bowl or because he’s dropped his toy behind the sofa. Some people send me half a dozen summonses a day. It’s completely insane.

I got scolded because I didn’t answer WhatsApp messages within the hour. They were sending them at 3am.

I had a client who shared their pet feed with their relatives,” a boarding house owner said. “Instead of having just one person sending WhatsApp and FB messages, I had four of them at me!

To the extent that schools offer such feeds to parent (and we recently covered one such case here), I imagine the issues could even be more intense as parents probe and critique what their children are doing in school.

So what do you think? Legitimate concern? Any solutions?


I thought about donating a camera system to my kids private preschool. My original intent was so I could see my kid on the playground and add some security to the building. After some thought I decided not too. I felt that if parents had access to the camera system there would be constant complaints about one kid not get attention or if a kid push another kid some parent would freak out. Sometimes I think it's better to just not see what's going on. Even mutiple camera angles can't tell the whole story sometimes. Small businesses make up most of my clientele, they often ask if they can share a live feed for one reason or another. After we discuss they usually decide not too. We have enough frivolous lawsuits as it is.

I tell my clients that the fewer who access the system the better. I have one who wanted me to give view only access of the hoa gate cameras and of course, out of the 35 residents there was that one idiot who cried over the hoa president being the only one with ability to look at recorded video...crying that it wasnt fair blah blah blah. Like my client (the hoa president) has time to look at cameras. So, the client and I basically said screw it- only my company has access.

In general, discourage clients from giving out video unless it directly benefits them. If they start consuming alot of your time, implement a fee schedule for support and pulling video then a surcharge for service past 6pm.

that fee-structure-as-deterrent is really smart.... just because there are cameras in place does not guarantee that someone is always watching them.

People need to be told (apparently) for them to understand that there are costs involved in maintaining full-time monitoring.

If that is what they want, then that is what they need to pay for.

People need to be told (apparently) for them to understand that there are costs involved in maintaining full-time monitoring.

In this instance, the people / customers are doing the monitoring, not the business.

I do agree that there is a cost but in this instance, the cost is responding to extra customer requests driven by the customer's self monitoring.

good point.

and for the record, I used to think that using surveillance systems as a monitoring tool for daycares/pet boarding/old folks homes was a powerful way to use this technology for things other than just security. until humans ruined it.

the calls from parents or dog owners - or their designated watchers - aren't simply incident reports like some pro monitoring company might provide as a service... they are heavily-tainted by 'you-would-know-this-if-you-ran-a-pro-joint' innuendos -the result of the differing perceptions between the business owner and the watcher. Which is the real problem here.

Access to video was a big part of my daughter's decision. And she picked the day care that cost the most.

Day care centers who provide this service should go into it with both eyes open; but in my view, this is customer service and indicates that other eyes may be watching. I asked the daycare owner (after telling her I was interested professionally in the decision) just the questions raised in this post. She told me that, though the there are some "helicopter parents" she feels cameras are a "great investment". She also noted that if a center is getting too many calls, then maybe there is some counseling needed. The Owner also uses it too to supervise staff.

I believe you would find similar results if you asked other day care operators.

#3, thanks for the feedback. Do you recall / know what system that day care uses? I am curious how they go about sharing.

It was a few years back. I don't recall the name. It is still in use today (I just tried to log in and , thankfully, i failed). My wife, daughter and I (just a little) were constantly using it. Image was a bit poor but good enough to pick out our little ones.

Interestingly, the toilet for the kids was enclosed by a half partition. The camera FOV was perfectly aligned so you could not see anything private, but you could see what the staff were attending and doing. There were a number of cameras available for view of the kids activity rooms and sleeping rooms. They claim to have had a record of who logged in and when; and every few months required us to change our password.

We took great comfort in the level of care provided. To be sure, we would complain if we thought it necessary. Being an ex cop, with the center just blocks away, i would probably call in SWAT if i though anything bad was going on....

I have had a couple of clients with day care centers, and i strongly suggested cameras be used to enforce policy and document staff performance. Since these services were outsourced, it would also better provide for contract enforcement and document times of pickups and drop offs. The list goes on.

Sorry. Did not answer your question about sharing. By sharing i am assuming you mean login? It is a menu item on their home page. Pick it and you get a login screen. So its a browser-based app.

I am not affiliated in any way, and in fact we've never actually used this product, but I wanted to throw out that I saw the most unique product/company the other day for a way to share remote monitoring with others, and that's OpenEye. I admittedly have not dug into it enough to fully understand the ins and outs, but the bottom line is that they give the ability to view cameras on a recorder via a web interface just by entering in an email address and setting permissions -- 3-4 clicks and you're there. When I spoke to them a few weeks ago, they said they were working on camera-level permissions to where they can give an individual access to a single camera.

Pretty cool -- ask for a demo if you can get it, because until I saw it in action, I thought it was "Just another" VMS. For this type of use-case, I was really impressed.