What to watch out for when selecting a video surveillance solution
Video surveillance has been around for a while, and with good reason. International studies (such as this study by the University of Cambridge) show how video surveillance has the potential to reduce crime. So it should come as no surprise that more organisations keep starting to deploy surveillance systems to safeguard their assets or simply better manage access to their premises.
By providing centralised management, intelligent video monitoring and advanced analysis tools, a surveillance system can effectively support you in protecting your organisation’s assets, as well as improving overall workplace safety and efficiency.
However, there are a number of aspects that you need to keep in mind when selecting a surveillance system. Flexible device integration, storage capacity and scalability as well as cost are just a few crucial factors to keep in mind. If not careful, you may end up investing considerable resources for a system that does not quite meet your needs.
Let us find out how to avoid the most common pitfalls when selecting a surveillance solution for your business.
What are the challenges of selecting a surveillance solution?
1. Recorder and camera selection
Classic NVR vendors tend to limit the number of cameras and devices their surveillance solutions support. When designing their first surveillance deployment, this forces businesses to select cameras and other devices that may not be their first choice. And even more so if they are updating an existing deployment: when it comes time to change or replace the video management system, the cameras may have to go too.
2. Storage capacity and scalability
With traditional NVR products, options for adding additional surveillance cameras or, for instance, upgrading resolutions and frame rates are often limited by available storage capacity. As video file sizes balloon, these recorders do not allow users to add larger or additional storage volumes. Inflexible storage sizes can also limit the maximum possible retention time for surveillance footage even as security policies require that recordings be kept longer. And with the capabilities of IP cameras ever increasing, storage that cannot grow may render your solution prematurely obsolete.
3. Overall cost of ownership
When comparing solutions, potential buyers are often overly focused on hardware costs. However, depending on your needs, you may face significant recurring costs. For instance, to manage and monitor cameras across different locations, you may need to pay annual licence fees for a multi-site video management solution (VMS). Other advanced features can require costly help with integration and come with separate recurring payments to third-party vendors, while also making it more complicated to find support when you run into problems with the system.
* Discover more: Synology video surveillance solution
How to select a surveillance solution?
That said, there are several things organisations should look out for when selecting a surveillance solution:
1. Camera and device compatibility
Some video management solutions are designed to support the maximum number of different cameras and devices. For instance, products that support the ONVIF standard give businesses a choice of thousands of camera and I/O-device products from different vendors, guaranteeing compatibility and smooth operation no matter whether systems have been tested in-house.
This not only gives buyers a wider choice of brands, but also makes it easier to select cameras with all the features you need, such as fisheye lenses, varifocal lenses and pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) functionality. Another feature to look for is good integration of I/O modules, such as door controllers, IP speakers and POS systems, allowing you to manage these directly from the monitoring interface.
2. Take storage scalability into account
With ever rising standards for surveillance footage (and your own possible business growth) in mind, you should not let yourself be restricted by non-expandable storage. And with plenty of solutions for safe, flexible and scalable storage on the market, there is no reason to settle for less.
Solutions such as network attached storage (NAS) are specially built to professionally protect large amounts of data and allow users to both flexibly replace drives with larger units and add whole new volumes with expansion units. Flexible storage keeps open the option of storing larger video recordings at higher resolutions or frame rates, while advanced backup and management features help protect your deployment.
3. Consider the licensing model
All surveillance solutions have earnings models, but some have more complex pricing than others. For instance, while many surveillance solutions charge separate annual or monthly fees for advanced features, some NAS-based surveillance solutions only require one-off licence purchase for each camera with all features included for free. In the long run, this not only equals a lower total cost of ownership, but also reduces the complexity of licence management.
4. Large-scale management
Finally, consider whether you will need to install surveillance systems in other locations. For instance, if you operate multiple branches or want to secure a business, a storage unit and a home. If the answer is yes, look for a solution that comes with a free but full-featured central management system (CMS). Even when managing only two or three recording servers, the ability to view all camera streams in one window, backup video between locations and receive notifications in one place can significantly boost the effectiveness of all your deployments.
Larger organisations can also benefit from CMS features such as camera batch deployment and the ability to move camera streams to other recording servers (and keep recording) in case any single unit fails. By putting buildings, deployments and cameras on a map, security events can quickly be traced to a location. And by integrating AI-enabled units for deep video analytics tasks, capabilities such as licence plate and face recognition, people detection and congestion alerts can be added to wider deployments.
Don’t be limited by your video management system
If you have read this article, you know that in 2022, there is no reason your surveillance capabilities should be held back by a sub-optimal recording or video management system. Next time you select a video surveillance solution, pay close attention to camera and device compatibility, storage scalability, licensing and central management. You will end up with a set-up that will last you longer and keep you safer at a better total price.
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