7 Questions to Ask Before Purchasing a Surveillance Solution

7 Questions to Ask Before Purchasing a Surveillance Solution

If your organization is looking to refresh or implement a new enterprise-grade security surveillance solution, we have created this helpful guide to help answer some fundamental questions worth exploring before committing on a solution. With the abundance of security camera solutions on the market, modern enterprises, and technology decision-makers and looking for greater value and feature sets whilst ensuring platform management and security is adhered to. With the NVR being the biggest risk to potential network attacks, traditional systems are struggling to adapt to standard ICT architectures which often incorporate cloud scalability and integration with advanced functionality machine learning capabilities provide.

1. What is the company policy for the number of days of recording that must be adhered to?

This is the obvious starting point for any surveillance implementation. In traditional systems, the required storage is either going to be over-estimated or under-estimated, regardless in most cases it’s a logical guess based on a defined set of recording criteria such as frame rate, quality and camera count. The problem here is the solution is most likely designed around the initial requirements and camera counts without taking into consideration scalability and system updates. When new cameras are added, the storage will also need to be reviewed to ensure the recording days policy is achieved. The organizations that operate under federal law requirements such as airports, this requirement is high-priority and often overlooked when the system ages and expands.

Modern surveillance systems will introduce an edge-storage and edge-compute design which has the ability to eliminate servers and recording devices whilst introducing AI smarts directly into the camera itself. This type of design becomes cost-effective as infrastructure, licensing and maintenance of server storage clusters are eliminated whilst allowing expansion across multiple sites.

2. What is the expected warranty on the camera hardware?

The majority of traditional or cheap systems will include a 2-3 year warranty on the hardware. Cameras with moving parts such as the pan-tilt types may have less as these components are vulnerable to failure. The problem with short warranty periods is the constant refresh of camera hardware required which becomes uneconomical over a solution lifespan. In some cases, organizations will implement cheap cameras into their environment and forget about them – when footage retrieval is required they have either failed or the NVR server is down – another warranty issue in itself.

Modern hybrid-cloud managed based systems will often introduce an unmatched 10-year warranty, allowing the enterprise to implement a 10-year solution and forecast cost for comparative TCO. ROI is realized by the rich feature sets and cloud distribution of services through simplification and ease of management whilst allowing fast investigation management and user access.

3. How many sites will be installed and how will we manage this?

The biggest challenge with enterprises managing multiple surveillance sites is creating a standard operating environment that can be propagated with ease whilst being cost-effective. Considering new sites come online yearly for large organizations, early launched sites will have outdated or malfunctioning hardware which ends up becoming a hardware refresh loop. The other problem resides around centralized site management and user access without introducing cyber-security risks.

Modern surveillance systems will incorporate multi-site management capabilities without introducing cyber-security risks such as firewall port opening and forwarding. Centralizing the solution into a single platform enables secure user access design and site camera availability. This opens new features such as POI identification across all sites, footage retrieval from all sites, and simple event searches across all sites.

4. How will we manage each site’s surveillance solution from a central location?

Decentralized surveillance systems become nothing more than an IT department’s worst nightmare. Let’s say you have 10 sites, all using different cameras, servers, and client software, how can you possibly guarantee recording, camera availability, user management, software updates, firmware updates and firewall management? The next logical step is to then integrate a cloud management platform that brings all these systems together which in itself will be costly and difficult.

The alternative is to use a native security platform that is cloud-ready, this enables rapid scalability and deployment of cameras without server and client installs across the enterprise.

5. What impact will the solution have on our cyber-security policy?

The NVR is now considered one of the most vulnerable pieces of network-attached technology within the enterprise, opening new opportunistic attacks as seen with some major leading brands. A well-designed surveillance solution should have cyber-security in mind and mitigate any risk to the organisations security policy. Limiting port-forwarding or internal access to camera resources can also restrict user access to the system, especially mobile users which impacts the incident response plan.

Modern security surveillance solutions should not require major firewall changes or port vulnerabilities but instead, communicate over encrypted port SSL 443 traffic. This enables cloud communication across multiple sites whilst being able to maintain a standard firewall policy.

Finding faces across cameras

6. Should we add a scalability buffer into each site to ensure we can add additional cameras without impacting infrastructure?

What happens when a site expands and you have to add additional cameras? New servers, server upgrades, server storage upgrades, more licensing the list goes on. When designing the storage requirements you will often find you will pay for more storage than required to accommodate future cameras, or perhaps the solution is fixed to the original requirements which do not allow scalability. A smart surveillance deployment should enable you to quickly scale up the solution without introducing heavy costs, this is one of the most over-looked requirements of CCTV design, especially when AI smarts are introduced as additional workloads are required.

The alternative is to consider edge-storage as part of the surveillance design, which enables the organization to scale up and down as required without having to consider internal resources such as server storage.

7. What features do we need from a surveillance solution?

It’s that old saying – “you don’t know what you don’t know”. Modern surveillance solutions are packed with features and often tailored to different use-cases and industry requirements. On the bottom end, you have basic systems that record video and allow basic playback of video and then at the top end, you have cameras systems incorporating heavy use of ML to identify objects, changes in the environment and advanced analytics. ML is fast becoming a standard design feature being built into modern camera security systems allowing people and vehicle analytics whilst introducing other aspects such as tampering detection, POI identification and smart sharing capabilities – all from the cloud.

We encourage you to discuss your system requirements with us so we can provide some additional insights in your surveillance solution, we offer obligation free trials of the latest hybrid-cloud managed solutions and can arrange a live demo.