IP CCTV – it’s not just about the cost, it’s about the total cost of ownership
Calculating the “Total Cost of Ownership” (TCO) of an IP CCTV system can highlight its true worth to the end user. Despite an initial greater capital outlay on the cameras, compared to their analogue equivalents, an IP CCTV system will more than pay back the difference in the long run.
It is probably true to say that for small, stand alone CCTV systems, analogue CCTV solutions have the lowest equipment costs. However, for medium and large CCTV applications, there is very little difference. IP CCTV system design is different to analogue, making direct comparisons very difficult. Indeed installers modelling network CCTV applications on analogue systems are probably not taking full advantage of the potential cost savings, and certainly missing out on the added functionality available.
CCTV equipment costs are simple to quantify, from PTZ cameras, fixed cameras, dome cameras, NVRs, DVRs, Ethernet switches and matrices through to Ethernet and structured cabling. TCO considers the time and costs saved in set-up, support, on-going maintenance, service and operation, most of which can be measured as ‘man hours’ saved. IP CCTV enables quicker and often simpler cabling, intuitive set-up, easier commissioning, the opportunity for off-site maintenance and remote equipment set-up – all reducing man hours and subsequently the TCO.
The additional benefits that come with IP CCTV systems, such as increased reliability, improved image quality, greater functionality, efficiency and scalability also reduce the TCO. This takes the value of IP CCTV’s superior functionality into account, rather than equipment cost savings and reduced installation time.
The greater reliability provided by IP-based systems, especially those using server-rated HDD and RAID5 back-up storage, means fewer maintenance calls and site visits are necessary. Many would suggest that IP CCTV must be the first choice for mission-critical applications, where continuous operation is essential, and where the cost of losing critical data through unreliable systems could be catastrophic.
IP CCTV systems take full advantage of mega-pixel technology. Entry level Megapixel IP cameras have around 1.3 mega-pixel resolution. An analogue camera will have nearer 0.4 mega-pixels. Additionally, the entire IP system can operate in digital format. Many analogue systems convert digital formats to analogue ones for transmission, compression, storage, display and so on. IP systems use digital cameras on a digital network, transmitting directly to a NVR and on to a digital display. Removing the analogue to digital conversions means there are less opportunities for image degradation.
Remote and multi-site monitoring is easily implemented using IP technology. Multiple sites, additional cameras and further site security systems can be added to a network quickly and easily. Remote monitoring via PC/Mac, smartphone/PDA or a third party remote monitoring station also become simple services to add.
Intelligence and Efficiency:
There are significant developments in video analytics / video intelligence within IP CCTV. Intelligence can increase the efficiency and effectiveness of a security system. Events such as “wrong way” or a “left object” will start the system recording, ensuring that very little unnecessary data is recorded. The system does not become clogged with hours of irrelevant recording, yet will provide high quality images for evidence, when required. The event can also be used to initiate an operator or even police response. This functionality also preserves data storage capacity, saves on ‘search and retrieve’ time for operators, and reduces the amount of unwanted data transmitted over an IP network.
Businesses usually require a single, scalable, integrated and flexible security solution. IP CCTV offers almost infinite scalability, requiring just a network over which to operate. IP technology is built on a single, common, communication platform, onto which a number of other site security and management functions can be added. These include intruder alarm; access control; fire safety; retail management, including POS and EAS systems; building management, including lighting, and opening and closing barriers and doors; and automatic number plate recognition (ANPR). In fact, the list is almost endless and can include anything with IP compatibility.
Equipment Cost Reduction:
If the benefits of IP CCTV alone are not enough, then trends in the ultra-competitive IT industry make it easy to predict that PC Hardware, hard disk drive capacity and network hardware capability will continue to increase rapidly, at little or no extra cost. An IP CCTV system is future-proof. Security technology is becoming increasingly IP-based and this trend will not change as the benefits are irrefutable. Not only are IP systems easier to use and more reliable, but they also have excellent scalability and save money over time.
When the total cost of ownership is considered, IP could provide the cheapest and most flexible solution available.