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Homeowners’ Association (HOA) members, community leaders and residents interested in community safety understand the importance of well-planned security systems. However, simply installing a few cameras is rarely enough to ensure that communities remain safe.

For residents looking to strengthen core security capabilities with effective tools and technologies, below is a comprehensive guide to the planning, installation and operation of intelligent neighborhood security cameras and surveillance systems.

What are neighborhood security cameras?

Neighborhood security cameras are video recording devices deployed by property owners, HOAs, security teams and community-led groups for the purpose of improving public safety through the monitoring of residential locations.

Just like commercial or home security cameras, neighborhood surveillance cameras can be installed to cover key areas like main access points, parking lots and communal areas. Some of these types of security cameras have the option to allow operators to monitor live feeds from control rooms, while others offer the ability to manage security remotely. 

How are security cameras for neighborhoods used?

Neighborhood cameras are typically connected to a centralized video recording system and one or more monitoring stations to enable operators to analyze live video footage. Depending on the type of HOA security cameras in use, operators can receive live alerts warning of suspicious activities. 

Community security cameras are often used to support other security systems such as:

  • Access control solutions — Community surveillance cameras can be installed at all main access points and integrated into existing intercom or access control solutions. When a resident or guest requests access to the community, security personnel can review live HOA CCTV camera feeds to verify credentials and grant or deny access.

  • Threat detection systems — Neighborhood watch cameras can be linked to smart sensors and alarms, and configured to warn operators of suspicious activity like movements in high-risk areas or sounds consistent with a break-in. AI video analytics software may also be used to detect anomalous events automatically and send live alerts to security teams.

  • Security investigations — Neighborhood camera systems are designed to record and store security footage for a set amount of time. Stored video can then be reviewed by internal security teams or sent to local law enforcement agencies to assist officials in identifying crime suspects.

  • Parking management systems — HOA security camera systems may also include License Plate Recognition (LPR) cameras deployed to help teams improve parking management systems. LPR cameras can identify any vehicle passing through their field of view, ensuring only authorized vehicles are permitted entry to private facilities.

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Advantages of neighborhood security camera systems

Neighborhood security camera systems assist HOAs and security teams in protecting communities from various threats. From acting as a visible deterrent to ward off would-be criminals to supporting security investigations by capturing HD surveillance footage, below are a few benefits associated with CCTV systems:

Crime reduction

Evidence suggests that neighborhood security cameras play an important role in reducing crime rates in private communities, with data showing that crime rates can drop by as much as 13% in areas covered by CCTV systems. Physical crimes like vandalism and break-ins can be quickly detected when neighborhood surveillance cameras are used to monitor residential areas, allowing the authorities to take swift action to capture perpetrators and mitigate damages. 

Visible deterrent

Research indicates the mere presence of visible neighborhood surveillance cameras can act as a deterrent to criminal activity. In a study conducted by the University of North Carolina, researchers found that 60% of criminals avoid targeting areas covered by visible CCTV cameras.

Real-time responses

Similar to security cameras for apartment buildings and condos, neighborhood CCTV cameras provide security staff with live footage of all key locations, with options to program instant alerts warning security teams of suspicious activities the moment they are detected. This enables operators to immediately respond to unfolding incidents, activate wider security systems and contact local authorities to de-escalate or investigate security breaches.

Evidence for investigations 

HOA community security cameras connected to centralized video management systems can be used to store and organize recorded security footage, which can later be submitted to the local authorities as evidence when a crime is captured in the footage. Additionally, integrations with motion sensors, LPR software and similar technologies enable staff to automatically flag suspicious movements and prevent incidents from taking place. 

Potential concerns with neighborhood surveillance systems

While well-implemented security cameras for HOAs and private communities can help to improve security and public safety, these technologies come with a few potential issues. Before committing to the installation of any neighborhood surveillance camera systems, users must consider and address the following concerns:


It is essential that all residents of a community agree to proposed neighborhood security camera installations prior to any systems being installed. HOA leaders must demonstrate to homeowners that newly installed cameras will not impose on their personal privacy. Common HOA surveillance rules include:

  • Camera placement — HOA CCTV cameras may not cover the backyards or interiors of any private homes to afford all residents a reasonable expectation of privacy. Differences between different types of cameras, such as turret vs dome cameras, is also an important placement consideration due to differences in angle and rotation capabilities.

  • Data storage — Recorded footage must be stored in a secure digital environment that cannot be accessed from personal computers or smart devices, and an agreement must be made outlining how long footage can be stored before they are permanently deleted.

  • Access control — Neighborhood security camera control rooms and areas used to house digital storage devices must be secured behind monitored entry points such as apartment building access control systems, with access limited to security personnel and select HOA members.

Legal compliance

For neighborhood surveillance cameras to be used appropriately, installations must comply with local, state and federal regulations. HOA leaders will need to prove that neighborhood cameras do not impact any resident’s right to privacy, as well as ensure that all stored footage is organized in accordance with data protection laws.

Financial considerations

One of the factors that HOAs must inevitably consider when it comes to implementing a comprehensive security system is the neighborhood security cameras cost. It may be necessary to persuade residents to contribute to the funding of neighborhood video surveillance systems by demonstrating the potential benefits of their use for the community, backed with research and statistics to substantiate how the systems can strengthen safety and increase quality of life in the community.

Management and maintenance 

Security cameras for HOAs must be managed and maintained on a regular basis. In some cases, communities may appoint residents with appropriate skills to handle these responsibilities, but it’s usually advisable to hire security professionals with experience in security management. HOAs will need to account for the cost of maintenance when developing a security budget.

The key components of a neighborhood security system

Neighborhood security cameras are a central component of any effective security system. To maximize the system, installations must be designed with wider integrations in mind. Here are different types of community security cameras, the most strategic places to install them and systems commonly used in conjunction with the devices to create holistic security: 

Neighborhood surveillance cameras

Neighborhood security cameras must be installed to cover key locations like main entrances, communal areas, shared facilities like clubhouses or gyms and any other areas that communities determine to be high-traffic. Effective neighborhood video surveillance systems utilize different types of cameras to address various security concerns. Common types of community security cameras include:

  • Dome cameras: Fixed dome cameras with a wide field of view intended to capture footage at close proximity in spaces like offices, reception areas and storage rooms. These devices are usually housed in exterior casings and are tamper-resistant, but still require regular cleaning and maintenance.

  • Bullet cameras: Fixed cameras with a narrow field of view but excellent long-range capabilities intended to capture footage at a distance in spaces like parking lots and building perimeters. Most bullet camera models have low-light settings to support outdoor use.

  • LPR cameras: License Plate Recognition cameras cover access ways and parking lots and can automatically scan passing vehicles to discern license plate information. They can be used to support access control systems and identify suspicious vehicles.

  • Pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras: PTZ security cameras for neighborhoods can be controlled remotely, enabling security teams to adjust viewing angles in real-time. If cameras are linked to a cloud management system, adjustments can be made from smart devices.

HOA perimeter security technologies 

HOA perimeter security technologies typically include access control gates, intercoms and neighborhood security cameras designed to monitor the perimeter of private properties and control access to gated communities. Other tools can be integrated to allow automated access. For example, LPR cameras can be configured to open gates when registered vehicles are detected. 

Access control systems

Access control systems are used to restrict access to private properties only to residents and visitors with access credentials. Residents are commonly issued mobile credentials or physical tokens like key cards and visitors will use temporary digital credentials sent to their smartphones. This system automatically records all entry events, making it easier to identify unauthorized individuals entering restricted spaces. 

Environmental sensors and alarms 

Internet of Things (IoT) devices like motion, sound or pressure sensors can be connected to security cameras to improve neighborhood community center or multifamily building security. Sensors may be used to trigger recording functions and alert security teams of suspicious activities, giving security staff the ability to access live camera feeds and trigger on-site alarms to perform fast and effective incident responses.

Planning and management tips for HOA security systems

Administration and compliance 

When planning a neighborhood video surveillance system installation, the first step is to consult all residents regarding the purpose and scope of the project. All parties must agree on camera placements, funding requirements and how the system will be managed. Any privacy concerns voiced by residents must be addressed and actioned promptly.

HOA leaders must also liaise with local authorities to obtain necessary permits. This could include planning permissions if cabling infrastructure is required or advice about local privacy laws related to the recording and storage of footage.

Performing security assessments 

Detailed security assessments should be performed to identify high-risk areas and suitable camera placements. Neighborhood security cameras should be installed to cover high-traffic locations like access roads, entrances and exits, as well as communal spaces such as gyms and leisure facilities, alongside areas deemed vulnerable to common crimes like vandalism. 

Developing a budget 

Security assessments will highlight appropriate areas for neighborhood security cameras and reveal the minimum number of devices required for an effective installation. This should be factored into the project’s budget alongside installation, integration and ongoing maintenance costs, helping teams to settle on a realistic budget for the finalized installation.

Neighborhood video surveillance systems will usually need to be funded by the community, meaning HOA leaders will need to pitch the project to residents and reach an agreement. Alternative options include leasing equipment or applying for neighborhood security grants.

Installation and management

Depending on the complexity of the neighborhood security camera system, HOA members may choose to install systems themselves. However, it’s recommended that professionals carry out any camera installations where possible to ensure compliance with regulations, prevent avoidable accidents and ensure HOA community security cameras function optimally.

Considerations should also be made regarding the maintenance of these camera systems. HOA members or hired security personnel can be appointed to monitor, adjust and maintain installed cameras regularly. Operators must be vetted by HOA leaders and tasked with protecting all systems from data breaches.

How to choose the best neighborhood security cameras

Choosing the best neighborhood security camera for a residential property will depend on various factors, including budget restrictions, installation requirements and wider environmental considerations. However, there are a few features that teams should prioritize, such as: 

  • Resolution — For optimal observation, choose a system with a minimum camera resolution of HD 1080p.

  • Range — Choose long-range bullet security cameras to capture footage at a distance. 

  • Coverage — For coverage of large areas, choose wide-angle dome security cameras. 

  • Night vision — Prioritize cameras with low-light settings for outdoor or nighttime use. 

  • Durability — Look for cameras with durable casings and built-in anti-vandal features to ensure longevity. 

  • Connectivity — Consider Internet Protocol (IP) cameras to view footage over the Internet.

  • Integrations — Choose cameras that support integrations with wider security devices to build a comprehensive system.

Key takeaways to the neighborhood security systems guide

HOA community security cameras play a pivotal role in ensuring the safety of all community members. Provided installations are well-planned, privacy concerns are addressed and HOA leaders commit to frequent maintenance and management of devices, neighborhood security cameras can help to prevent crimes and protect residents from common threats.

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