When an employee spots a camera in the workplace, or even when a shopper spots a camera in a retail store, the first thing they want to know is if it can record sound. In short, the answer is yes, CCTV camera systems are designed to record audio in conjunction with images. However, whether or not an employer or a retail location is allowed to record audio is another matter entirely. Additionally, the type of cameras doing the recording – whether IP or Analog – dictates how the audio is captured. This post gives a brief overview of how audio is captured by CCTV security cameras, as well as a run down of the basic privacy rights that employers and retail locations alike must abide by when using surveillance systems to monitor employees.
Security Cameras in the Workplace
Many employers will have security cameras installed to prevent theft and to ensure that employees are making good use of their paid-for time. This is perfectly acceptable so long as the employer informs employees that they are being recorded. However, there are some instances in which it is illegal for employers to record their workers. For instance, union workers may never be monitored by a camera system. States laws vary on where and how employees can be recorded, but all agree that private settings, such as restrooms, the break room and other areas where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy, are off limits. And Federal law dictates that the recording of oral communication in the workplace is strictly prohibited.
How Employers Can Use Video Surveillance Lawfully
First and foremost, it’s important to know that employers may only monitor their employees if the have a legitimate reason to do so. For instance, if supplies have been disappearing or if an off-limits area is routinely being unlawfully accessed, they have the right to install surveillance cameras to identify the perpetrator so that they can be properly reprimanded. Retail locations such as banks, stores, restaurants and any other business that routinely interacts with customers have an automatic reason to install surveillance cameras: to protect their employees and theft-prevention. Most individuals who choose to work in retail are aware that their actions will monitored, but even so, it is the employers duty to inform new hires of their surveillance policies. They might explain that the cameras are there for their protection, but that if the employee is caught stealing or acting in poor conduct, the footage can and will be used against them.
In short, it is safe to say that an employee working in a cubicle or private office has a reasonable expectation of privacy, while an employee working in the customer service industry does not. For this reason, if an employer does choose to monitor its employees interacting with employees, it must have a very good reason for doing so.
That being said, no matter the purpose for the employer’s surveillance, wiretapping is never okay. If an employee does find out that their employer has illegally recorded their oral communication, they could be in trouble and may even lose their right to use the footage for prosecution reasons at all.
Manners in Which Different Cameras Record
In the CCTV world, there are two types of cameras generally used: Analog CCTV and IP CCTV. Which cameras a system utilizes dictates how sound is recorded and replayed.
- IP CCTV: On an IP camera system, the audio input is fed directly into the IP camera. However, the signal transmission is analog between the IP camera and the microphone, but it becomes digitalized when it hits the IP camera level. From there, the camera sends a digital signal transmission to the NVR for instant playback.
How many microphones can be installed on an IP CCTV system all depends on the number of video channels on the NVR and whether the cameras used come with audio input. If they do, and if the NVR has, say, 6 channels, the system can accommodate up to 6 microphones—one per camera and channel.
- Analog CCTV: On an Analog CCTV system, the audio doesn’t go through the camera first for digitization; rather, it goes directly to the DVR. The DVR receives an analog signal transmission, which the DVR then digitizes itself.
Again, the number of microphones an analog system can accommodate all depends on the number of outputs allowed by the DVR.
However, no matter which type of system is used—whether IP or Analog—the same holds true: surveillance cameras can record sound. However, because companies are at risk for invasion of privacy by recording audio, many choose to not implement this feature.
Mammoth Security in Hartford Can Advise You On How to Use CCTV to Your Advantage
Whether you work, live or play in Hartford, CT—or all three—you can benefit from Mammoth Security’s CCTV camera systems in Hartford (CT). Our security installation people understand Connecticut privacy laws better than most and can help you implement a security system that doesn’t violate any state or federal laws. Even if you are not able to record audio, our team can advise you on the best set up for your cameras so that you can identify and prevent any unlawful activity before it occurs.
At Mammoth Security, we use HD Digital cameras, which are capable of powerful zooming and higher resolution output than your standard analog cameras. This means that even without audio, you have the capabilities to zoom in on any suspicious activity, and if you do find hard evidence on a person or within a person’s possessions, the footage can be used as valid court evidence.
Another great feature of our systems is that they are able to be viewed remotely. This means that even if you go on a family vacation for a week, you can still monitor your workplace from afar via your Android or iOS device. If you have a laptop on hand, you can even pull up the footage on that. Anywhere you have an internet connection, you have access to your video footage.
Finally, one concern that many of our clients have is that they already have a system in place and don’t want to spend thousands of dollars completely replacing that system—they just want to update it. With our technology and expertise at Mammoth Security, that is completely possible. We customize our offerings so that they can fit in with your existing equipment.
If you own a business in the Hartford, CT area, or if you just live and work in the area, you’ve probably seen our cameras before. Our mission is to protect the people of our community by bringing them the most advanced surveillance technology available. If you’re interested in learning more about how you can protect your business, your home or both, reach out to our team for an installation quote.