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Commercial Security Cameras: Overt Vs Covert Surveillance?

Installation of a security system within or around a commercial building is among the best ways to increase security within the premises and to monitor business employees.

A large number of modern commercial security systems have closed circuit surveillance cameras as a feature. There's more to installing these cameras than calling in a technician from the supplier of the security system.

This article provides answers to three questions that a business owner may have in relation to the two types of surveillance that a security camera can offer.

What's The Difference Between Covert and Overt Video Surveillance?

Surveillance cameras can offer the two types of surveillance mentioned above. Overt surveillance refers to a situation in which cameras are installed in a manner that makes their location easy to identify. In other words, the business owner doesn't attempt to hide the fact that he or she will be recording employee activity after the cameras have been installed.

Covert surveillance is the opposite. A business owner who chooses covert surveillance will have security cameras installed in relatively hidden locations such that employees are likely not to be aware that they are under surveillance.

Covert video surveillance is often considered to invade the privacy of employees working within a commercial entity. Thus, business owners will often need to get a permit for the installation of covert surveillance security cameras.

When Is Video Surveillance Considered Covert?

In theory, the distinction between overt and covert video surveillance seems quite clear. In practice however, there's often a thin line between the two types of surveillance.

Thus, it is important for a business owner to understand the practical difference between the two types of surveillance. In order for surveillance to be considered covert, a business owner will have failed to meet at least one of the following provisions:

  • Surveillance cameras or their housing material are clearly seen from different places within the premises
  • Warning signs have been installed at various entry points to the commercial building to inform those coming in that they're under surveillance once they get into the building
  • Employees of the commercial entity have been given prior notice about the intended installation of surveillance cameras.

What Are The Advantages Of Each Type Of Surveillance?

The main advantage of covert video surveillance is that the hidden location of security cameras protects such equipment from the threat of vandalism.

On the other hand, overt surveillance is advantageous in the sense that the exposed location of cameras is more likely to deter crime and to deter unruly employee behavior. This is because potential criminals and rogue employees are fully aware that their actions are being recorded.