10 November 2021
For many businesses, CCTV cameras are an important part of
their commercial security system which helps keep their staff and business
safe. An essential role of this system is ensuring you’re getting the best
security by positioning all cameras in the best way, experiencing the best
camera quality, and for some business owners, being able to record sound as
well as video.
But can your current CCTV cameras record sound, and what do
audio recordings mean for your business?
Can I record sound on CCTV cameras?
Yes, as long as you have the right camera. Most CCTV cameras
can record sound either through an integrated microphone or have an input for
an external microphone.
What are the different types of CCTV sound recordings?
There are two ways in which a CCTV camera records sounds;
Analog CCTV and IP Camera Systems.
Analog CCTV means that any sound is directly fed into the
digital video recorder (DVR) from the microphone through analogue signal
transmission. The DVR then digitalises the signal so you can listen to the
IP Camera Systems
On the other hand, IP Camera Systems do not require a DVR to
digitalise the sound. Instead, the microphone and camera communicate via
a digitalised audio file which is then broadcasted to a network video recorder (NVR).
Sometimes IP Cameras are preferred as they don’t need a
separate recording device which means they offer great flexibility for
installation and are suitable for a range of environments.
How do I know if a camera is audio ready?
If you’re looking to purchase, or have purchased your own CCTV
cameras and wish to know if they record audio, there are a few easy ways of
- Look at the product webpage and specifications to
see if audio recording capabilities are listed.
- If you already have the CCTV camera, look to see
if you can see a small hole that generally indicates the microphone, or see if
there is input at the back for microphones.
- Take a test recording of yourself speaking and
see if the CCTV camera picks up the sound.
- Contact the camera supplier and ask!
What are the benefits of CCTV audio?
Although CCTV surveillance systems do a great job of
protecting your place of site or property, added layers of security can help
give you peace of mind. Audio enabled CCTV helps with that and you can benefit
- Enhancing security. Not only will your
CCTV system allow you to feel safe and secure when away from your business, but
with the addition of audio recordings, you will have that added layer of
security. Being able to hear what someone causing destruction or theft can also
benefit any investigation.
- Lesser blind spots. With any
surveillance system, there is likely to be some sort of blind spot, either
temporary or permanent. Having sound recordings can give you an idea of any
activity within that space by listening to the background noise and any speech.
- Provides more information. If trespassers
or thieves cover their faces whilst carrying out illegal activity, it can
hamper an investigation. However, with added audio, they may say something
which helps give their identity away.
It’s great seeing something happening – would it be better if
you can speak through the camera?
Many CCTV camera manufactures have started to expand their
ranges, from simple systems to those with more features, including built in
speakers and microphones. These speakers allow for users to communicate with
people they can see on the security systems.
For commercial properties, tannoys and audio are
particularly useful. Acting as a preventative measure, the integration can
allow operators to broadcast pre-recorded audio files or real time audio to
warn off potential criminals when an intruder alert is triggered. Like the
domestic models, they can be used inside and outside and allow for business
owners to talk to anyone on their cameras. They can be used in a variety of
situations including business entrances, cash registers and warehouses, and
offer 24/7 protection.
If I record audio with my CCTV cameras, do I have any legal obligations?
With any commercial CCTV system, there are always legal
considerations you must think about, and recording audio is the same. In the
UK, CCTV recordings are covered by the Data Protection Act and enforced by the
Information Commissions Office (ICO).
Because of this, there are several legal obligations that
come with both operating a CCTV system and recording the audio, including:
- Conversations between members of the public
cannot be recorded. There are some limited exceptions to this, but where audio is
recorded, it must be for a purpose.
- Commercial properties must register with the ICO
as a CCTV operator, as well as state the purpose of the system.
- As part of registering with the ICO, businesses
also need to pay a data protection fee depending on the business size and
- Signs must be clearly mounted and positioned which clearly state that CCTV
surveillance and audio recording is in operation.
- Ensure all footage is kept securely and isn’t
kept for longer than necessary (often 31 days).
- Don’t install surveillance cameras in private
places, such as toilets.
If you’re in doubt about your current CCTV system or audio recording
setup, always speak to a professional who will be able to guide you through the
process and laws.
Find out more
At TouchStar ATC, our experts believe in a completely
bespoke approach to CCTV cameras and surveillance systems.
We’ve been supplying bespoke security solutions to
businesses across a variety of sectors including retail for more than 30 years.
Our experts are on hand and more than happy to assist you in choosing the right
system to suit your organisation. Get in touch today to find out
how we can help.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – LYNDEN JONES
Lynden joined Touchstar ATC (formally Feedback Data) in a sales role for Access Control in 2010. Prior to joining the company, Lynden held both Production and Account Manager roles, gaining wide technical and commercial experience within the electronics market.
In 2013 Lynden was promoted to Sales Director and in 2017 he took overall responsibility of the business as Managing Director.As well as running Touchstar ATC, Lynden still remains extremely active in the sales and key account management aspects of the business. When not involved in the business, Lynden is a keen performance car enthusiast.