Insights

Church security camera systems: Everything you need to know

July 6, 2022

In recent years, religious organizations have increasingly been looking to improve their security systems. A comprehensive church security system, which may include video alarms, can keep the community safe during big and small incidents. Everything from deterring vandalism to a quicker response to a violent incident can be aided by video surveillance.

In this article, we teach you everything you need to know to improve safety and security for churches.

To see how Solink can enhance security at your church, sign up for a free demo today.

What is a church security camera system?

Just like businesses, churches have specific needs for their security camera system. There are many exterior and interior areas of the church property that need to be covered by cameras. Churches also face various threats, each requiring specific tools, plans, and skills.

Indeed, a church security camera system is not only the cameras, but also the technology that maximizes the value of those cameras. This includes the complimentary infrastructure, for example access control and video alarms, as well as the video analytics platform that integrates all of the infrastructure.

Be sure to include your church security system when drafting your religious organization’s complete security plan. That way staff training and system maintenance are prioritized from the start.

Want to see how Solink can help keep your community safe?
Take a virtual tour.

What should you include in the security system for your church?

There is a lot of variety in the structure of churches. Some are hundreds of years old wood/stone buildings, while others are brand-new campuses with a 10,000-person worship center, a K-12 private school, full gymnasium, and more. If your church does have an associated school, be sure to read our guide to school security systems as well.

These variations require different security measures, and purchasing an off-the-shelf commercial security camera system is unlikely to meet the needs of your church.

Solink provides custom security solutions tailored to the needs of your religious organization. Here is everything you might need to build your church security system.

church-indoor-view

Security cameras

Security cameras are a key piece of security infrastructure for any organization, including churches. Most churches have indoor and outdoor security needs and will likely require several different types of security cameras to cover their entire property.

Solink will show you where you need to place your security cameras, which security cameras you need, and how to get the most out of your surveillance video footage below. First, let’s look at the other church security system components.

Internet

We live in a connected world, which means an Internet connection is always going to add functionality to your infrastructure. In the case of a church security camera system, the Internet allows for remote backup, remote monitoring of your cameras, and a lot of other benefits that greatly improve the efficiency of users.

For example, Solink automatically updates all of the software on our systems. In addition, Solink runs automated security camera health checks to tell you if your cameras have gone offline or are blocked in some way. Video analytics, video alarms, and many other key components mentioned below require the Internet to work at optimum efficiency.

Video analytics platform

Video analytics is critical in a modern church security camera system. A large property with multiple facilities, from a childcare center to the parish hall, requires a lot of oversight. Without video analytics, you’d need full-time security staff to monitor the video feeds.

laptop-churches-video

Solink’s video analytics platform cuts the time it takes to proactively monitor your facilities as well as reactively handle events.

To find out more about how Solink’s church security solutions can save your religious organization time, sign up for a free demo.

Data storage

Some cameras have data storage in them, but it is usually limited. Most systems require a DVR or NVR to manage local storage. Other cameras store directly to the cloud, which is great if you have the bandwidth and a good connection with zero downtime.

Solink offers a hybrid cloud and local storage solution that gives you the accessibility of cloud video storage with the robustness of on-premises storage. You can customize your data storage to maintain video footage for 15, 30, 90, or more days of availability. Furthermore, any important clips can be stored indefinitely.

Door and window alarms and sensors

Intrusion detection is a key component of your security perimeter. The security perimeter is the wall of defense around your property. Alarms and sensors that can tell when a door is opened is one way to achieve a strong security perimeter around a building.

Video alarms

Solink’s Video Alarms is a great way to leverage your existing cameras for further security benefits. Video alarms work by detecting motion during specific periods of time in a designated location.

Instead of a door alarm that alerts authorities automatically when a door is opened, video alarms detect motion inside and outside the door and then notify the owner of the alarm. Here are three potential advantages of church video alarms over traditional alarm systems:

  • Earlier detection: Since motion can be detected outside the door, you do not need to wait until someone has gained access to your facility to be alerted to their presence.
  • Alarm verification: Instead of the alarm system requesting an emergency response after a simple switch is activated, video alarms notify the owner of the system. You can then view real-time video of the event from anywhere and decide whether emergency responders need to be dispatched. This can save you money in reduced false alarm fines and keep emergency responders free to react to true events in your community. In fact, some police services are no longer responding to non-verified access alarms because of how many false alarms occur.
  • Better response to true incidents: Once the owner of the video alarm verifies emergency responders are necessary, they can share the real-time video surveillance feed with responders. This means dispatchers know exactly what is happening and how best to react to the situation.

Video alarms monitoring service

Solink’s Video Alarms offers a monitored service. With the standard system, the owner (and/or designated users) receives the alarm notifications and can verify true threats or dismiss false alarms on their smartphone.

With the monitored service, trained professionals in a dispatch center look at the church video alarms feed when motion is detected and confirm whether there is a true threat. When a verified alarm event is detected, the owner of the system as well as emergency responders are contacted.

viewing-phone-for-alarms

Access control

Access control panels allow entry to church facilities by authorized users by inputting a code into a panel. This allows church management to both keep unauthorized users out and know who has entered a building in the case an event occurs while they are inside.

Church security cameras

As mentioned above, no church security system is complete without cameras. They not only provide a great security base but also support and enhance the value of every other piece of infrastructure you put in place.

Here’s an example. Access control systems allow you to see who has been in your building recently. However, people forget their passwords. Then, when they go to enter the building they call up a friend to use their password. This isn’t a great solution on the day, but when people then share their password for months before mentioning they need their password reset, it represents a serious security problem.

How can security cameras solve this access control problem?

Having a camera above the door means you can see the face of every person as they enter the building. Integrating access control into your video analytics platform means you can compare faces to the codes entered to confirm there is no password sharing. It also means that, if something, for example a fire, happens while a person is in the building, you know who needs to be accounted for so no one is left behind.

Bullet cameras

Bullet cameras are some of the most common church security cameras on the market. They are small and get their name from their shape.

Their small size and easy installation make them particularly versatile. They can be placed indoors and outdoors and are usually less noticeable than larger security cameras (e.g., turret security cameras). However, their shape makes them less robust to vandalism than dome cameras (see below).

restaurant security cameras_bullet camera

Dome cameras

Dome cameras are cameras covered with a dome. This obscures the direction they are facing, which can make visitors less sure what is or is not in the camera’s field of view. Their shape and the dome protection make them more resistant to vandalism.

restaurant security cameras_dome camera

PTZ cameras

PTZ stands for pan, tilt, zoom, and that’s basically what they can do. PTZ security cameras can be controlled remotely to pan across a larger area or zoom in on something in particular.

This added functionality usually comes with a higher price tag. However, you might be able to offset the added cost per camera by using fewer cameras in total. Remember, though, PTZ cameras are only recording what the lens is facing. Additionally, the PTZ feature is mechanical, which is often a weak point in these cameras.

ptz camera

360 degree cameras (fisheye cameras)

Fisheye cameras are the next level up in church security cameras. While PTZ cameras improve on the base bullet cameras by allowing the user to change the viewing angle remotely, 360 security cameras go even further by giving the user a complete 360° by 180° view all of the time.

360 degree cameras get their nickname of fisheye cameras due to the distorted image shown.

However, using modern gaming technology, Solink stretches out this view to give you an immersive look at what is happening at your site. Here’s a 360 camera at work on the Solink platform:

360-camera-solink-view

While the PTZ camera requires someone to change the view angle, 360 degree cameras show and record everything all the time. We’ve found that a single 360 degree security camera can replace four to six traditional security cameras in wide open areas, such as a church hall or recreation facility.

Want to see how Solink can help keep your community safe?
Take a virtual tour.

Church security camera placement

Modern churches can be large, expansive properties. This makes security camera placement a particularly difficult task. Let’s look at all the locations you should consider placing security cameras in your church, starting with interior cameras followed by exterior cameras.

Interior cameras

Interior cameras should be placed in all of your facilities and provide solid overall coverage, including all entrances and exits, showing the pathway of visitors throughout the buildings, clear visibility of highly used areas, and coverage of any location with valuables (including where tithes are counted and stored before transport to the bank).

Here are some specific locations for interior church security cameras.

Parish hall, event hall, and chapel

Anywhere that people congregate regularly should have ample camera coverage. For larger areas like the nave, 360 security cameras can give you a clear picture of everything that is happening. This reduces the number of security cameras you need to buy and install.

perish-hall

For smaller areas like chapels, especially those without valuable artwork or other church assets, a single bullet camera covering the entrance, so you know who has been in the room recently and when, should suffice.

Gymnasiums, youth ministry facilities, daycare, and other amenities

Children are at risk of injury when at play in daycares or enjoying physical activity. Security cameras can reduce your liability when injuries occur as well as help you follow-up on aggression or violence.

Since security cameras might be damaged by an errant basketball or in other ways, dome cameras are probably a better choice than bullet cameras in these facilities.

Hallways

Longer hallways can be dangerous for various reasons. In many cases, they are places where crime takes place. However, even within the safe walls of a church, longer hallways are a common location for elderly falls. Quick response to such situations, especially when the hallway is rarely used, through motion sensing can provide a lot of safety value to your church community.

Entries and exits

Every entrance into the church should have a security camera placed facing the interior and exterior side of the door. These allow you to keep track of visitors, enable video alarms, monitor access control panel usage, and make sure everyone has exited your buildings safely during an emergency situation.

church-front-entrance

Offices

Churches often have cash on hand from tithes collection. Anywhere that cash is collected, counted, and stored until being sent to the bank should be covered by security cameras. We recently discussed this for restaurants, but the principle is the same here.

Offices also tend to have valuable computer equipment, personal assets, etc. that represent targets of theft.

Want to see how Solink can help keep your community safe?
Take a virtual tour.

Exterior cameras

Exterior cameras are exposed to a less predictable and more variable environment. This includes both weather and unknown people passing by. As such, dome cameras are usually a better option outside as they are better protected from weather and vandalism.

Here are some specific locations for exterior church security cameras.

Entries and exit

As mentioned above, every entrance into the church should have a security camera placed facing the interior and exterior side of the door.

Parking lots

Weekly services at a place of worship are predictable events. Thieves can use this predictability to target cars in the parking lot with smash-and-grabs knowing that the owner of the vehicle probably won’t notice for an hour.

In addition to theft deterrence, the high traffic on Sundays makes a church parking lot a high-risk area for minor car accidents. Being able to provide video of these events to insurance companies with Solink’s Save and Share feature makes them simpler to resolve for everyone involved.

Special events grounds

If you host fairs, bazaars, or any other community events on your property outdoors, then those areas should be covered by security cameras to protect the visitors as well as the church. These events usually involve commerce and there is also a risk for accidents, both of which need video surveillance to protect the church from any wrongdoing claims.

The benefits of having security cameras in your church

A strong church security system provides a lot of benefits. Here are just a few of the benefits of putting a security system in your church.

Prevent theft and vandalism

A security camera system can deter thieves and vandals from your church. Criminals who perceive that they will be caught are less likely to commit crimes. If you increase the likelihood that a criminal will be caught, then they are less likely to commit a crime against your church.

Provide evidence to the police

If criminals are not deterred, then security cameras provide the evidence required to resolve incidents appropriately. However, simply having cameras does not necessarily mean that you can easily share video evidence with the police.

One charity focused on those experiencing homelessness, along with many of our customers before installing Solink, was previously sharing videos with the police using USB sticks. The cost and time commitment was difficult to manage for all of the incidents occurring in the shelter.

Even worse, it created a situation where the police were not confident that evidence could be provided about incidents.

Once Solink enabled this charity to provide video evidence with the click of a button using the Save and Share feature, police became far more responsive. Now they are teaming up to keep the area near the mission safe.

church alarm systems police viewing

Resolve disputes

Confrontations of different types can happen whenever a large number of people come together regularly. Security cameras provide definitive evidence of what happened, which can help resolve disputes.

In fact, one chiropractic clinic operator has helped resolve multiple incidents involving their doctors. This has saved the clinics thousands of dollars while leading to positive resolutions for both the doctors and patients.

Safety and security

Security cameras can make your church safer, both indoors and outdoors. Here’s an example of improved safety using Solink. Veterans of America-Michigan uses Solink to make sure there are wet floor signs out and regular mopping is performed when it is raining. This is just one of the ways you can use security cameras to audit the safety of your church.

View your church from anywhere, at anytime

Solink gives you access to what is happening at your church from anywhere. Simply open the Solink platform on your laptop or smartphone and see what is happening in all of your facilities. You can also create accounts for other members of your church management team so they can also monitor what is happening.

Faster emergency response

Emergency responders might not respond to unverified alarms in your area. Even if they do, false alarms can lead to major fees. In addition, the real-time Video Alarm monitoring service provided by Solink can actually lead to faster and more appropriate emergency responses.

When an incident occurs, you are able to share real-time video of the event with the emergency dispatchers. That way they know exactly how to respond by deploying police, EMS, and/or firefighters.

Church security camera systems FAQ

Is it legal to have cameras in a church?

Yes. Security cameras are generally legal in public spaces where individual privacy should not be assumed. This includes the public areas of churches such as event halls, offices, and the foyer, while it does not include gym locker rooms or restrooms.

Can you put cameras in a church?

Yes. Security cameras may be placed in a church, so long as you respect the privacy of your congregation. That means only placing security cameras in the public parts of your building where there is no reasonable expectation of privacy.

Do churches have security cameras?

While not all churches have security cameras, many do and the number is growing. The risk of theft and vandalism has always existed, while bigger threats including active shooters and terrorism are a growing concern.

Should churches have security cameras?

Churches face large and small threats, from vandalism and theft to active shooter events. A security camera system paired with video analytics can greatly improve the security of a house of worship while being unobtrusive.

Do churches have alarms?

Many churches have alarm systems to protect them from burglaries, vandalism, and less likely but possible major incidents such as violent attacks. Other churches will opt to use their security cameras as video alarms.

Who can access the video surveillance footage in a church?

This depends on the system. Some video analytics companies will require added fees to have more than one user on the platform, and every user will have the same level of access. Solink allows you to have as many users as you need without additional fees. In addition, every user can have a different level of access, for example being able to view only outdoor security cameras or only the cameras in the public parts of your church.

How do you secure a church?

Churches require a security system that matches the level of risk in their area, considering the size of the church, the local crime levels, how valuable the church property is, etc. Most church security systems begin with cameras and the related surveillance tools.

Should churches have security teams?

Most churches will find it valuable to have a security team. The nature of your church security team should be included in your church security plan. Church security teams range from the oversight committee to active volunteers who act as sentries during church services and events.

How can church security be improved?

Church security can be improved with the help of a video analytics platform. Solink increases the value of your existing security cameras to give you more information about who is entering your church and why.

Which is better, an alarm system or CCTV cameras for a church?

CCTV cameras provide some security to churches, but most will also choose to install an alarm system. However, churches can use their existing security cameras for Video Alarms with Solink.

Do you need an alarm if you have CCTV?

Church security camera systems can actually operate as both a CCTV system and a video alarm system. This can save money, simplify the system, and improve security overall.

What is the difference between CCTV and security cameras?

Security cameras and CCTV cameras are basically synonyms. CCTV is an older term that was used to describe analog security camera systems. Modern church security systems use IP cameras, but the term CCTV is still widely used.

Trust Solink to protect your community

Solink brings together your alarms, access control, and sensors and pairs them with your security cameras to provide your church with a modern security system.

Now you can see what is happening, anytime from anywhere on your laptop or mobile device.

To see how Solink can help with your church security needs, sign up for a demo today.

Want to see how Solink can help keep your community safe?
Take a virtual tour.