09 December 2004

Deterring burglary in iCafes

Internet Cafes and Game Shops are one of the most profitable small businesses here in the Philippines. This business almost runs by itself, but of course, just like other businesses it has its own share of problems. One of the shop owners' worries is burglary. So what can a burglar take in an iCafe given that he has the biggest pot in his lifetime? Everything! But for those with uncanny stealthiness; memory modules, webcams, optical pointing devices, headphones, usb hubs are the most attractive giveaways. To some this is small time, but if the owner keeps on losing those stuff on an almost regular basis, he has an obvious business risk right under his nose, a losing business risk.

As a solution, a solution?!? There's no solution to this kind of problem. But deterrence will put this risk at the minimum tolerable level. So what kind of deterrent is the best? Depends on the size of the shop and the number of people of coming in at a given time. One example of a deterrent is a security camera and perhaps the cheapest deterrent in the short or long run. Security cams are useful regardless of the size of the shop being operated, whether it's a simple setup with 10 workstations or a maze of 30-50 workstations. Depending on the owner's budget, the whole area can be covered with enough security cams to shoot a "bullet-time" scene or corner-to-corner coverage.

CCTV or Webcam? Believe it or not, some webcams especially the most expensive ones shoots better than a CCTV camera that is more than twice the price and very cumbersome to install. One of which is (no plugging intended) the Logitech QuickCam Pro 4000, this cam has a very good zoom in and out feature. So how do you install a CCTV-style close-in video surveillance system using everything needed that is available at any PC store? That's what I am going to talk about privately if the reader wants more information.

So how this will help shop owners deter burglary? The purpose of video surveillance in iCafes is no different in other type of shops, to get the bastard red-handed or if he gets away, he can't get away far enough. Now with a circumstantial evidence at hand, reporting or blottering incidences of burglary would help law enforcement agencies solve the case quickly. The webcam-based CCTV-style video surveillance system can also do wonders in aiding real-time emergency response to address larger and more insidious situations. But that is a bigger picture ;)

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