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Five Things You Need to Know When Choosing a Video Surveillance System

Security professionals are always on the lookout for new technologies to secure their facility, assets, and personnel. With dramatically new technologies available, it’s important to know what to consider when deciding on a new video surveillance solution.

  1. What are my specific security requirements?
  2. Who do I trust to install the system?
  3. How do I choose the best solution?
  4. How is new technology different from what I used in the past?
  5. How do I future-proof my investment?

Security Requirements

Your facility is unique and has specific needs based on physical attributes, corporate policies, environmental/geographic considerations, budgetary requirements, and internal stakeholder expectations. A fresh look at your current needs is a great place to start your decision-making process.

Physically, you may be on a campus or within a single structure. These attributes will determine the quantity and capability of cameras deployed outside and inside your facility.

Corporate policies or industry lawmakers may dictate a minimum retention time for recorded video or the Detection, Observation, Recognition, or Identification (DORI) requirements for camera fields of view. These will significantly impact the storage solution. The more days you retain recorded video, the more storage space is required. DORI is a standard that determines what evidence is captured in recorded video and sets stakeholder expectations in advance.

Environmentally and geographically, you may need to consider extreme temperatures, wind, or even crime statistics in the region. Likewise, determining the outer perimeter of the system may increase the types of cameras deployed. For example, short range cameras can be used indoors and at entrances whereas fence line perimeters may require long range, high resolution cameras.

Your budget is a major consideration. Knowing the budget in advance will keep the system evaluation process in check. Save time by considering only technologies and system designs that fit your bottom line.

Stakeholders have expectations that you need to meet. The IT department will need to provide the infrastructure for your new IP video solution. Human resources and administration will need a simple user interface to review recorded video for investigations. Security staff will need a system that is smart enough to call attention to camera views that contain pertinent information.

Installation Partner

Gone are the days when the company installing your system connected the last camera, showed your team how to play back video, and left with check in hand. Now, systems are highly complex, riding on an IT network, and requiring ongoing support. Picking your partner is more important now than ever. Be sure to verify installer training and competency. Verify that the company has an IT component that can work with your IT department to ensure a smooth installation and ongoing support without missing a step.

Manufacturer Selection

By choosing the right installation partner, the manufacturer selection process is made a little easier. Once your installation partner knows more about your specific requirements, they can choose the perfect cameras, user interface, and recording solution for your application. They will evaluate the newest technologies from a variety of manufacturers and present only relevant, proven solutions for your consideration. This saves a lot of time during demonstrations and ensures the system will meet your operational needs.

New Technologies

Quality systems make the user experience simple while providing comprehensive options in configuration settings. Managing and using these systems is very different than analog systems of the past. These systems are computer-based and require a different set of skills for operators and administrators. It’s important to outline the differences between your old and new systems. This will allow for proper training and preparation for when the new system is ready to be used.

Future-Proofing Your Investment

Legacy analog video systems allowed you to mix and match component manufacturers quite easily. When IP video revolutionized the video surveillance industry, it brought along some significant “behind the scenes” complexity and incompatibility. Incompatibility across manufacturers was almost guaranteed when IP video solutions first came to the market. After a decade of IP video advancements, manufacturer compatibility has improved considerably. New technology standards like H.264 and ONVIF make future upgrades possible.

The challenge is that technology is changing quickly. Legacy analog video surveillance technology could last for dozens of years without having to be replaced or upgraded. Today, we expect technology to continue to evolve rapidly in a three to five-year time span. The option for renting a system “future-proofs” the change in technology and delivers a higher return on your investment. Furthermore, your annual maintenance costs for hardware and software need to be a component of your system rental or system plan.

How a Solutionist Helps You Navigate the Process

The best advice we can offer is that you pick your partners wisely. Invest a significant amount of time in making sure you’ve assembled the best team from the manufacturer, to the installer, to the internal stakeholders you bring to the table to make big decisions. The right advice throughout the process will ensure a smooth deployment and long-term solution satisfaction. Be sure that your installation partner is both security and IT savvy. Your manufacturer partners need to provide solutions that are compatible with ONVIF and provide 3rd party integration options. Your internal stakeholder partners need to define their expectations for today and tomorrow and remain vested in the decision-making process from beginning to end.

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How much will an Access Control System cost your business?

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Choosing and deploying an access control system is a relatively complex decision, and there are a few challenges that could become a risk to productivity. Having the right security partner working with you and your team will prevent and mitigate risks.
However, no matter the chosen solution, an access control system will impact multiple aspects of your business. Impact minimization measures that are considered and initiated with your security partner during the planning process will ensure business continuity.

Financial

Cost should directly reflect the benefit to business security and operations. A business operator will need to consider ongoing costs associated with hardware maintenance, annual software licensing, and person per hour investment.

The initial cost of the system is based on several key components:
• Number of buildings or locations to be secured
• Number of doors to be secured
• Number of credential holders
• Computer hardware or virtualization to be augmented
• Integration to other systems such as video surveillance or intrusion detection
• IT department time commitment to support the deployment
• Human resources, facilities, and other departmental training
The often overlooked, ongoing costs will include:
• Human resources: user management and credential purchases
• IT department: software updates and computer hardware maintenance
• Installer contracts: component maintenance
• Vendor contracts: annual Software Maintenance Agreements (SMA)

Operations

When a new access control system is deployed, company personnel will have new procedures to follow. They may need to carry and display an ID badge or programmed key fob to access the building as well as secure interior areas. Doors that used to be left open for easy access may now be closed and require a free hand to open. Short cuts through the facility may now require a new travel route.

Security

Security will improve as the procedures are followed. Sensitive corporate information will be kept from unauthorized access and visitors will be screened prior to entry. Accountability will improved with activity logs and electronic awareness of facility and sensitive area access.

Safety

Areas that are off limits to untrained personnel will be controlled. The risk of injury, or worse, will be reduced. Compliance with OSHA and local jurisdictional authorities will be streamlined, avoiding costly fines and potential stop-work orders.
System Deployment at a Glance

A simple access control system may include a handful of doors to be controlled with only a few dozen employees using the system. This would require a database, user interface software program, and door control hardware. The system allows doors to be opened when an authorized user presents her credentials and remains secure when an unauthorized credential is presented. It will also remain secure if someone simply pulls on the door.

In a complex system, each door in the system will be treated the same as a door in a simple system. However, there will be far more doors to address. Likewise, a complex system typically involves far more users in the system. These users can be included in the software database, or in some cases, IT departments include the access control system in their LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) database to simplify human resources operations. Users may be placed into smaller user groups with a variety of access “levels”, such as basic facility access or limited access to sensitive administrative spaces.

Cost Sources at a Glance

• Planning meetings
• IT hardware/virtualization
• IT time investment
• System and door hardware installation
• Door replacements and modifications
• Software licensing
• Software Maintenance Agreements
• Integration to additional systems
• Training
• Support contracts
• Credentials

Evaluation and Deployment

Choosing an access control system is a complex decision. There will be expected, and unexpected, challenges that are unique your business and operational needs.

KEEPING ON TRACK

Our Solutionists have extensive experience with access control manufacturing leaders and will provide a perfect match to your unique business needs. Our years of experience ensure minimal impact on operations during installation and we’ll provide ongoing, expert support throughout the life of the solution.