Hidden Costs of Video Surveillance Systems

Cloud | Security

By Idan Koren, Director of Operations, Verkada

Many organizations tend to purchase the cheapest video security system that meets their requirements only to watch the total cost of ownership (TCO) grow over the lifetime of the system. The initial savings vanish, and the “hidden costs” of video surveillance turn into a new budget nightmare. While many NVR and DVR systems may seem cheaper upfront, understanding some of these hidden costs will ensure that your investment will be money well spent.

NVR/DVR Maintenance

Traditional video surveillance systems that use a centralized network video recorder (NVR) or digital video recorder (DVR) often appear very affordable upfront. But the original implementation does not account for substantial ongoing maintenance and upgrade costs these devices will require in the future. Many NVR and DVR systems tend to fail about 2-3 years after purchase and additional storage will likely be required sooner than previously thought.

Specialized Servicing

Although the equipment itself can certainly add up when dealing with old technology, maintenance costs are mostly reflected in the hours logged to make repairs, troubleshoot problems, and service network issues. Often, the price is even higher due to the nature of the work. Because these types of video camera systems are specialized, they may require technicians with particular expertise. As always, specialized service workers are more expensive to deploy whenever repairs and upgrades are needed.

Onerous Footage Retrieval

One of the issues that companies still struggle with is footage retrieval. While it may seem hard to believe, old systems are often so outdated — relying on archaic technology and formats — that it is difficult to transfer and convert video into more-standardized formats. Even systems that are relatively more user friendly can remain air-gapped from the wider company network for cyber security reasons, leaving the footage inaccessible unless a workaround VPN is established (which run counter to security goals by exposing the camera system to potential intrusion). Regardless of the specific reason, the result is that employees sometime have to physically review footage in person from the centralized recorder or download the video in person in order to make use of it offsite. For organizations with a wide geographical footprint, this can require a worker to take expensive flights and rack up travel costs just to deal with such outdated technology.

Cyber Security Costs

NVR/DVR-based systems are only secure if the system is fully air-gapped from the network. This, however, creates its own problems in terms of getting easy remote access to the footage. Thus, many operators opt to open up ports to provide remote access. And as soon as this is done, the system becomes less secure and needs much more oversight and protection. While heightened vigilance can be folded into the responsibilities the IT team, it does come with the expense of additional employee hours. And that is the best-case scenario. Because opening it up to the wider network adds risk, you are also introducing the threat of a breach or high-profile damage to your brand — both of which can have significant financial fallout.

Software Costs

Even if you’re purchasing a NVR/DVR system, there may be ongoing software costs and necessary feature upgrades that are not included in the initial package. It may also be necessary to purchase third party software just to convert footage from certain devices into more usable formats.

Liability Costs

Having a single centralized device like a NVR/DVR in the middle of everything means that any downtime can affect the entire system. This not only requires constant immediate maintenance, but it could lead to liability concerns if an incident occurs while many of those cameras are offline.

Storage Costs

Another thing to keep in mind is that NVR/DVR systems’ storage capacity is typically set at the beginning of the project. And while the needs at launch may be more than sufficient, just adding a few more cameras to a location can bring you over the limit. This will then force the company to have to invest in more additional storage capability. The same is true for higher resolution footage with larger file sizes. What may have worked fine at 720 could be inadequate with more pixels.

The Costs of Scaling

As all too many companies have learned the hard way, what works well in a single location can be difficult and expensive to roll out across multiple sites. If you open a new location, it is quite easy to install a few extra hybrid cloud based cameras for example but this isn’t the case for NVR/DVR systems. You will need to add a new centralized recorder and wire everything together, adding time, cost, and complexity every time you scale up.

Total Cost of Ownership

For many video security systems, the original quote is usually just the beginning of an ongoing investment that can continue to balloon over time.

At Verkada we view these hidden costs as pitfalls for every organization’s budget. This is why we have chosen to provide a very clear total cost of ownership with in our purchasing agreements for every client. Our 10 Year warranty also provides peace of mind from a financial and liability standpoint. See Verkada’s cameras in action now, click here.

This article was originally published on www.verkada.com on May 14, 2019.