Editor, IFSEC Global

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James Moore is the Editor of IFSEC Global, the leading online publication for security and fire news in the industry. James writes, commissions, edits and produces content for IFSEC Global, including articles, breaking news stories and exclusive industry reports. He liaises and speaks with leading industry figures, vendors and associations to ensure security and fire professionals remain abreast of all the latest developments in the sector.
September 2, 2021

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Video surveillance guides

How to reduce the total cost of ownership of your video surveillance system

While there is a growing respect for the importance of security and surveillance systems for other business analytics tools, the budget managers and end-users have to work with isn’t always as flexible as they’d like. And, while cheaper products may seem attractive at first, they could end up costing more in the long run. Here, Hanwha Techwin Europe’s Uri Guterman highlights the key issues to think about to reduce the total cost of ownership for video surveillance systems.

In tough economic times, when there is pressure to minimise expenditure, there is always the risk that return on investment (ROI) projections for a video surveillance system might only include the costs associated with end-users’ immediate or short term objectives, rather than the TCO over the useful life of a system.

Total-cost-ownership-Hanwha-21When calculating TCO, it is wise to factor in recurring charges, as well as one-off costs. This means that in addition to the initial cost of the cameras, recorders, video management software (VMS), cabling, network devices and installation charges, other costs such as power output, maintenance and more need to be considered.

The cost of future upgrades should also not be ignored if your requirements are likely to change, either because you might wish to expand the system’s coverage or perhaps to add to its capabilities by running specialist video analytics applications on the cameras.

When all of the above is taken into consideration, what might at first glance appear to be the cheapest products, may subsequently prove to be otherwise and ‘buyer’s remorse’, albeit as a delayed reaction, could occur.

So here are some suggestions we recommend you take into consideration when deciding on which video surveillance products will, in addition to meeting your immediate requirements, deliver long term value and will not surprise you in the future with unexpected costs which have not been budgeted for.

  1. Are the cameras which you are evaluating ‘open platform’ and do their chipsets have sufficient processing power to run edge-based third-party video analytics which you might wish to immediately take advantage of now or in the future?
  2. Do the cameras and recording devices support H.265, as well as other compression formats? Multi-pixel images can all too quickly fill up the capacity of an NVR or server when recorded at high frame rates and resolutions. This could become costly in terms of bandwidth and storage costs when there is a need to record and store evidence grade images.
  3. Do the cameras have built-in IR illumination? The cost of installing supplementary lighting can be prohibitive and so if you wish to capture high quality images 24/7, it will be important to know a manufacturer’s cameras are effective, regardless of the lighting conditions.
  4. Is a product upgradeable and future proof in that it has been designed to be backwards and forwards compatible with third-party products with which it might be integrated with?
  5. Do the cameras you are proposing to buy have firmware which can be updated as and when new features become available or when there is a need to introduce enhanced cyber security functionality as new threats or standards emerge? The ability to do so will alone justify paying a little bit more for cameras compared to those which do not do so, as the cost of a security breach could be huge. Check, however, that the manufacturer has a policy of offering any upgrades free of charge.
  6. Does the manufacturer offer cameras with built-in video analytics? If so, is it license free or how much will you have to pay for it?
  7. Video surveillance cameras equipped with video analytics are increasingly being deployed to help detect intruders. Not all types of video analytics can distinguish between a stray animal and a human intruder or a vehicle and what may just be video noise. In addition to frustrating control room operators, the cost of dealing with false alarms can be prohibitive. We recommend that you should make any new video surveillance system future proof by way of using cameras which support edge-based deep learning AI analytics.
  8. Has the manufacturer integrated its cameras and recording devices with the platforms offered by leading independent VMS development companies, such as Genetec and Milestone? If not, this could have an impact on the costs associated with expanding a system as and when requirements change.
  9. If you are not intending to use third-party VMS, ask the camera manufacturer for a demonstration of their own brand video management software and/or user interface. An intuitive and therefore easy to use interface will minimise training costs.
  10. Is the manufacturer able to give an estimation of the life cycle of the specified products and can they provide proof as to their reliability? This will be particularly significant where there are moving parts such as in PTZ cameras. To back up any claims on reliability, does the manufacturer offer a no-quibble advanced replacement service for products under warranty and does their warranty extend over at least 3 years?
  11. What are the estimated energy costs of the individual components of the system? You might be unpleasantly surprised to learn how much some devices cost to run and we suggest that you therefore specify IP network cameras which feature low power consumption Power of Ethernet (PoE). This also helps reduce installation costs, as it removes the need to install power points for each camera and reduces the amount of cabling required. It is worth noting that some manufacturers offer PoE ‘extender’ cameras which provide a highly cost-effective method of installing a new two camera system or adding a camera to an existing system.
  12. How long will the specified cameras, video recorders or other devices take to install, and can they be set up remotely or reconfigured in the future without an engineer having to carry out a site visit?
  13. There are also time and cost saving advantages of working with manufacturers who supply video management software (VMS) preinstalled on NVRs, as well as video analytics pre-uploaded to their cameras. Both offer the additional benefit of achieving seamless integration without the need to spend the time and incurring the cost of attending specialist training courses.
  14. Without doubt, the most important factor is the ability of a product to withstand a cyber-attack. Whether occurring for criminal or malicious purposes, or just seen as a challenge by opportunistic hackers, cyber-attacks are a major threat to the ability of end-users to keep their confidential information safe and can be expensive to resolve. It is strongly recommended therefore that video surveillance products should only be bought from manufacturers who support the objectives of the Secure by Default standard which was introduced in 2019 by the UK’s Surveillance Camera Commissioner.
  15. The recording devices should also be equipped with GDPR friendly features, enabling them to be programmed to automatically delete video evidence after a specified maximum number of days, unless the operator has bookmarked the footage to be retained for a longer period.

 

Free Download: The Video Surveillance Report 2020

Discover the latest developments in the rapidly-evolving video surveillance sector, directly from the people at its heart. We surveyed hundreds of professionals working in the field to bring you the 2020 Video Surveillance Report. Responses come from installers and integrators to consultants and heads of security, as we explore the latest trends in the sector including video analytics; cloud-based storage solutions; VSaaS; cyber security; the impact of COVID-19 and more!

Download for FREE to discover top industry insight around the latest innovations in network cameras and video surveillance systems.

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