Annandale REAL ESTATE
Watching Your Investment
By: Scott Pearson, Pearson Realty
October 2017, ENDEAVOR News Magazine
Commercial property management is going high tech in many areas, but one of the most obvious is surveillance. Cameras are being mounted in buildings, on rooftops and within tenant space. When the property involves large parking lots, a number of cameras may be involved to cover a broader area. What is driving this trend?
The first is the availability of these devices. Ten years ago closed circuit television video (CCTV) was employed in only large office buildings or at key entrances to commercial property. The set-up was sometimes difficult, particularly if one was doing a retrofit on an existing structure.
But just as most people with a smart phone can take pictures and video, that portion of the electronic/telecommunications industry has exploded into myriad devices for monitoring property. You can view the television advertisements for a number of products from a vast number of companies hawking video surveillance devices and systems.
The other change that has occurred is the expectation of privacy. These days, unless you are in your own home, that expectation has eroded. Selfies, Utube videos, Facebook postings, blogs, and the pictures that accompany them have made people very aware that if they aren’t on their couch (and maybe not there) they may be getting filmed at any time.
Since sensitivities have changed, the opportunity to employ widely available surveillance devices has risen dramatically. No longer will people be offended to see a camera lens pointed in their direction. In fact, many public safety agencies have installed thousands of cameras throughout cities to assist police and fire response to emergencies. Traffic cameras have been in use for over a decade, as even the casual observer must have noticed.
The use of cameras to observe and record activity on commercial property is quite beneficial to the property owners and their property management companies. They serve as a deterrent to bad behavior and record misdeeds on the property so that responsibility for loss or damage can be assigned to the correct party. They protect patrons who have their car dented or scraped or who are assaulted in parking lots. There are even cameras designed specifically to read license plates. All of this information can be sent, recorded and used employing IP video technology.
Yet, for owners and managers of property, it is wise to take into account tenants’ sensibilities about cameras. Some people view the use as Big Brother watching their every move. When negotiating leases, the intended or existing use of cameras on the property should be identified within the lease. If cameras are to be installed following the tenant’s occupancy, a candid conversation with the tenants should occur wherein the myriad benefits of surveillance can be carefully laid out and the parties should attempt to agree on the placement of the cameras.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention one alternative security measure, fake cameras. These are also used by a number of commercial property owners. Since no one can easily discern the difference between a fake and a real camera, the deterrence against bad behavior is often maintained just by the presence of a camera (or camera-looking) device whether it is truly hooked up to anything or not.
Cameras and their increased use, particularly in commercial settings, are here to stay and the use will increase exponentially over the next few years. So here is our advice for commercial property managers and owners. Get some and start enjoying the benefits. For tenants and patrons, you may want to dress a little sharper, smile a little more, and resist scratching where you don’t want people to watch, because you are now an internet star.
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