Whether you are purchasing your first surveillance system or updating an older system, there are many questions to ask before choosing a vendor. As a first step, you need to determine the primary purpose and scope of the surveillance system. You also need to identify any environmental or other restrictions that will affect system operation
Once the basic objectives and restrictions are mapped out, there are a number of more advanced considerations that will need to be addressed. These include the following examples:
What other systems, if any, will be connected to the surveillance system?
In a networked world, almost any security or building system could be connected to surveillance. Working with an integrator and a manufacturer that support 3rd party integrations from technologies from legacy systems all the way to the latest ONVIF and manufacturer-API standards can make a significant difference in the success of the installation.
What are the needs for redundancy in the system?
For the vast majority of systems, simple RAID5 or RAID6 redundancy in storage is sufficient. Planners should also consider budgeting for “Failover” recorders and other server hardware on your VMS back-end, as well as spare cameras. If the intended system use has demanding uptime requirements, then the budget should include spare cameras that can immediately replace failed cameras, hard drives to replace failed units, and possibly extra joysticks, mice and keyboards so operators don’t face downtime if a peripheral device fails. Remember, a failed piece of hardware that doesn’t have an immediate backup will result in at least two days of downtime. If the replacement hardware is not available, or not shipped overnight, then downtime will quickly grow to four to seven days, or longer. Budgeting for and providing spares eliminates this risk.
Are there CapEx and OpEx considerations?
Today, most VMS systems have Software Upgrade Plans (SUP) or Service Level Agreements (SLA) to cover everything from higher tiers of support to future upgrades. The recommendation is generally to buy as much of this as is needed and as the end-user can afford in the initial project, or alternatively, build it into operating expense budgets for future years. Without such a continuity plan, out-of-date software can become a significant expense to bring the system back into compliance or to obtain the required support.
Are solutions manufacturers being considered?
It is best to work with integrators and manufacturers who are extensively steeped in end-to-end solutions experience. A given provider might offer excellent quality, or a lower price, but if cameras are their only product, then they will not be in a strong position to provide comprehensive support. Suppliers who offer a complete solution will be better able to solve any problems encountered during and after installation without finger pointing.
What’s the support escalation path?
Beyond the capabilities of the end-user to support its installations, how is support escalated? Does the installer have personnel that are trained and able to support the planned installation? If support issues exceed the installer’s capabilities, does the manufacturer have resources close to the site?
What’s the long-term support picture?
Successful surveillance systems are as much about continuity and relationships as they are about quality and a good price. Choosing an integrator partner and a manufacturer partner who have been there, and who will be there for the long haul, guarantees the ongoing support needed by most end-users.
Surveillance systems are a major business expense, so it’s important to ask the right questions and perform the required research prior to making any purchases. With proper planning, you can avoid costly downtime, extend the life of your system and save your company money.