Alarm Systems for Dispensaries: Types and Features
Cannabis is one of the fastest-growing industries in the United States. As the market grows, so does the number of dispensaries. One common denominator for cannabis business owners is an acute need to safeguard their stores, inventory, and cash. Good security is essential to maintain your licensure and your ability to do business. But what are the most important features that alarm systems for dispensaries need? And is there a better alternative?
Alarm Systems For Dispensaries: What To Consider
Dispensary alarm systems are paramount to your security plan. If for no other reason, most state regulations require them. There are lots of system options and services out there. It’s smart to do your homework so you don’t get “robbed” by your security provider.
Where Do You Need Protection?
First, consider the “low-hanging fruit” from a burglar’s perspective. Where could you sneak in? That’s where sensors and alarm systems for dispensaries have the most value. At a minimum, cover all entrances, windows, and around the full perimeter of your exterior. Your state’s cannabis security laws might include more specific requirements, like protecting limited-access rooms.
Think from the outside in. Protecting your dispensary begins with intrusion detection. Because there are so many ways a burglar could get in, this demands a multi-point offensive plan. Your setup should include door and window sensors plus glass break detectors for intrusions. What about a criminal pretending to be a customer and walking in during business hours? In case the threat arises from within the building, you’ll also need duress buttons hooked up to your alarm system.
What Features Do You Need?
Now, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty so you can narrow down your options. Which features should you look for?
- Glass-Break Detectors: If anyone attempts a “smash and grab,” the detectors will raise an alert. You have two options: acoustic sensors that detect sound using narrow-band microphones or shock sensors that detect vibrations using an electrical wire.
- Panic Buttons: As mentioned above, a criminal could enter through the front door like anyone else but then cause a threatening situation once inside. If that happens, you’ll want panic buttons, also known as duress alarms. By installing these under the counter, you give your staff direct access to the police during an emergency.
- Ease of Use: Your system is only helpful if it’s used properly. It needs to be approachable for all employees to embrace using it. Check out the alarm system interface and what’s required for arming, disarming, and management.
- Notifications: Most alarm systems can send instant notifications to designated personnel or the authorities. This is helpful during an actual emergency, but if the system is prone to false alarms, you could receive a plethora of junk alerts. Some cannabis security solutions (like Deep Sentinel) use AI to filter out the junk.
- Backup Power: Of course, eye-catching features are moot without a reliable backup power source, be it a battery or a generator. If there’s an outage due to maintenance, an accident, or a storm, you don’t want to be left vulnerable.
- Compatibility: Your alarm system doesn’t operate in a vacuum. Be mindful of whether your system will “play nicely” with other devices, such as your video surveillance system and fire alarms.
A dispensary alarm system alone isn’t enough to protect your business. But a system with these features is a good start.
Who Should You Talk To?
Many alarm systems for dispensaries appear very similar. Weighing your options can feel like a painstaking process. Sometimes, it’s a good idea to get another opinion.
A trustworthy alarm system provider will have a great track record… and a deservedly stellar reputation. Here’s where word of mouth comes in. Reach out to peers to find out what’s working well for them. Ask pointed questions about ongoing maintenance, system updates, and customer support—basically, everything that comes after installation. Online reviews can be another fantastic source of relatively unbiased information.
Also, touch base with your insurance company. You may find an alarm system that meets your needs, but does it meet your plan’s needs? Some providers have a checklist of requirements for an alarm system to be eligible for coverage. Do that final check-in before you make an investment.
Monitored Camera Systems For Dispensaries: What To Consider
All states that allow cannabis sales require video surveillance of key areas at dispensaries. This just makes good business sense. You’re protecting your livelihood while reducing the likelihood you’ll fall victim to a crime.
But there’s a big difference between a cheap spy cam and a crime-stopping surveillance operation. Your responsibility is to choose business security cameras that are up to the job of safeguarding your store. That task includes comparing a lot of system features, which can vary wildly.
What Dispensary Security Camera Features Are Legally Required?
Cannabis surveillance laws are different from state to state, so do your research to ensure any cannabis security camera solutions you’re considering will fit the bill. Local regulations may be even stricter than state laws. The law may dictate:
- Which areas need camera coverage (indoors and outdoors, including at all points of entry, the retail floor, storage areas, point of sales areas, and so on)
- How long you must save the footage (typically 30-90 days)
- How you must protect surveillance and data storage equipment
- Minimum resolution and frames per second
- Whether you need 24/7 continuous recording
- Who can install the hardware
- Whether you need live video monitoring
- Special footage requirements like time and date stamps and the ability to produce a still full-color photo
Consider these your bare minimum system specs. Any cameras you consider must check all of the legally required boxes.
What Are Your Security Camera Options?
There are many types of security cameras. Some distinctions are a matter of preference, while others determine what features your camera might have. Think of these as “this or that” decisions.
Camera resolution is a key factor. Legal requirements will dictate what resolution you need to an extent, but you consider getting cameras with even better image quality. For security purposes, consider nothing less than full HD (1080p), or you won’t be able to discern details such as faces and license plates. Getting 2K (“Quad”) or 4K (“Ultra”) is even better. Higher resolutions necessitate higher data storage capacity.
Another consideration is the field of view. This refers to the area that the camera can “see.” A wider viewing angle can cover a larger span and may reduce the total number of cameras you need. That is, provided the resolution is high enough to provide adequate detail.
For physical hardware, you have a few options that function differently. What type of connection do you want, wired or wireless? Wireless security cameras are more flexible and simpler to install, but a hardwired PoE camera system offers better power and data stability, especially for large properties. You can also choose from several camera shapes. Dome and bullet are the most common and should work for most applications. You may be able to choose between a fixed vs. a PTZ (pan-tilt-zoom) model. However, some dispensary surveillance laws require fixed cameras.
Perhaps your most critical decision is monitored vs. unmonitored cameras. For a little extra investment, live professional monitoring can ensure that your local police are contacted as fast as possible. Self-monitoring your system is less expensive, but then the responsibility falls on you (or a security team) to watch feeds and respond to incidents. Local regulations may require professional monitoring.
What Special Camera Features Do You Want?
Some camera systems go above and beyond by offering non-standard features. Look for these if you need or want extra security.
- 2-Way Speakers: Do you need security cameras with audio? Two-way audio allows you (or someone else) to interact live with potential criminals.
- Smart Object Detection: Artificial intelligence can save the day, literally. Without it, you may contend with a lot of false alarms from passing cars, squirrels, or blowing trash that AI can easily rule out. You won’t know until you check out every single notification whether a real threat is at your door.
- Floodlights: A well-lit scene is easier for a camera to capture. Some security cameras incorporate a floodlight. If yours doesn’t, you’ll want to install a security light nearby. A little illumination can also prevent trips, falls, and accidents on your property, too.
- Night Vision: Surveillance technology has improved a lot in the past few years. Full-color night vision is now a reality. It’s a good idea even if you have a floodlight.
- Motion Detection: Your laws may require continuous 24/7 recording. If that’s not the case, cameras that wake with movement can save power and data.
- Extra Durability: Look for features that match the environment. Outdoor cameras need to resist moisture and particles. If you’re in an unusual climate, make sure the equipment can withstand extreme temperatures. And, knowing that crooks might try to damage the cameras, hardware that can withstand impacts is never a bad idea.
- Additional Deterrents: Some cameras simply record. Others use sirens and 2-way audio to send criminals packing. Some incorporate more advanced crime prevention features like strobes, haze, or even pepper spray.
With the right combination of features, your cameras can serve as your front line of defense.
The Final Call
While there are bells and whistles galore when it comes to cannabis security solutions, balancing benefits and costs is a must. The good news is that a smart investment will save you money in the long run by preventing costly losses and insurance premium increases.
Many alarm systems for dispensaries make big promises but deliver lots of false alarms. By comparison, Deep Sentinel’s cannabis live security camera monitoring solution offers smart cameras with threat detection, live intervention by professional guards, and an industry-leading response time. Dispensaries across the country trust Deep Sentinel’s award-winning guard service to protect their products, property, and people.
So, make an informed decision about what system will provide your dispensary with the best protection. Remember: Your livelihood depends on it.