End users should consider the cost of an
entire surveillance system rather than the
cost of a single megapixel camera
There is a misconception in the security industry that megapixel cameras are more expensive than conventional surveillance cameras. However, to understand real value, it's important to focus not on the price of a single camera but on the overall surveillance system cost. Looking at the cost holistically and contrasting it with the benefits will clearly demonstrate the cost-effectiveness and ROI of a megapixel surveillance system, states Scott Schafer, Executive Vice President of Arecont Vision.

Megapixel cameras provide superior performance and imaging capabilities versus analogue and standard definition IP cameras. Megapixel cameras are also field-proven to deliver the most cost-effective video surveillance solutions. In comparison, analogue and standard definition IP cameras may be lower priced than megapixel cameras, but these cameras are far more expensive if you evaluate costs system-wide. The truth is that analogue and standard IP cameras provide a weak value proposition and a poor return on investment (ROI).

Purchasing results, not just cameras

When end user customers buy surveillance cameras, what they are really purchasing is the ability to view video that effectively achieves the goals of the application. They need video cameras that provide facial identification, recognise license plates and capture numbers from shipping crates. End users also need video cameras that capture images of activity in retail stores, bank branches, company or government facilities or at borders, airports or ports. They are purchasing the capabilities and the functionality that the cameras can provide. When you consider the price of analogue or VGA cameras compared to their functionality, megapixel cameras provide much more value for money than lower-resolution security cameras.

Megapixel cameras provide a
stronge value proposition and
a better return on investment
compared to analogue cameras

Megapixel cameras do a better job of capturing more information than standard-resolution cameras, and that superior performance translates into ROI in a number of ways. If you consider the concept of “pixels per metre” (meaning a certain number of pixels are required to depict one meter of a scene for a specific application), it's clear that more pixels equate to being able to view larger areas. For example, where ten standard-resolution cameras might have previously been required to cover a parking lot, the same application can now be served using three or four strategically-positioned 3 megapixel surveillance cameras, or even a single megapixel panoramic camera, depending on the application requirements.

More resolution for your money

Using estimated pricing and number of pixels as a quantitative measure of resolution, it's easy to demonstrate that megapixel cameras provide more resolution for your money compared to analogue or VGA cameras. Understanding the relationship between resolution and money spent makes it simple to evaluate which number of cameras are appropriate for a given application. Based on “pixels per metre”, you know how many pixels you need to view a certain area. Comparing resolution with set up costs makes it clearer which camera (or group of cameras) can provide that needed number of pixels most cost-effectively.

Surveillance System cost vs. camera cost

cost value chart
Consider the relationship between
money and resolution when
choosing between IP and
analogue cameras

When analysing the numbers on a new surveillance system installation, it is helpful to take a broad view of overall system costs. The complete cost of the system is obviously a better measure than the price of a single component. The price of a single component is not a good reason to dismiss a new technology as too expensive without considering how the extra expense will be offset by added functionality and other system cost savings. In the case of megapixel cameras, beyond camera price, other factors include a decrease in installation costs by using fewer cameras, the elimination of mechanical pan-tilt-zoom (ptz) devices and a reduction in operations staff. Using fewer cameras to cover larger areas also translates into cost savings related to infrastructure, for example cables, mounts and housings, which makes it easy to reach an ROI.

In summary, analogue and standard definition VGA IP cameras provide the worst value and therefore are the most expensive security cameras you can buy. When considering the choice between conventional analogue and megapixel cameras, go for the best image quality and best price by choosing megapixel cameras as they deliver the best ROI.

Scott Schafer
Executive Vice President of
Arecont Vision
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Security at sea: where technology benefits marine environments
Security at sea: where technology benefits marine environments

The term ‘marine’ comes from the Latin mare, meaning sea or ocean, and marine habitats can be divided into two categories: coastal and open ocean. Video surveillance (VS) applications can cover both types of marine environment with system for ships, maritime ports, onshore and offshore installations, etc. We should want to further analyse VS for ships and try to explain the types of ships on which it can be used, the ways in which VS can be used on ships, the typical certifications in use and what features a camera station must have to be installed on a ship. Starting with ships that have a minimum tonnage, around the world we have: liquefied natural gas (LNG) tankers, passengers ships, chemical tankers, crude oil tankers, container ships, general cargo ships and bulk carriers.As the LNG market grows rapidly, the fleet of LNG carriers continues to experience tremendous growth, offering more opportunities for VS Video surveillance for all marine vessels An LNG carrier is a tank ship designed for transporting liquefied natural gas. As the LNG market grows rapidly, the fleet of LNG carriers continues to experience tremendous growth. A passenger ship is a merchant ship whose primary function is to carry passengers by sea. This category does not include cargo vessels which have accommodation for a limited number of passengers, but rather includes the likes of ferries, yachts, ocean liners and cruise ships. A chemical tanker is a type of tank ship designed to transport chemicals in bulk. These ships can also carry other types of sensitive cargo which require a high standard of tank cleaning, such as palm oil, vegetable oils, tallow, caustic soda and methanol.A chemical tanker is a type of tank ship designed to transport chemicals and other types of sensitive cargo, increasing the need for better security An oil tanker, also known as a petroleum tanker, is a merchant ship designed for the bulk transport of oil. There are two basic types of oil tankers: crude tankers and product tankers. Crude tankers move large quantities of unrefined crude oil from its point of extraction to refineries. Product tankers, generally much smaller, are designed to move refined products from refineries to points near consuming markets. Container ships are cargo ships that carry their entire load in truck-size intermodal containers: a technique called containerisation. They are a common means of commercial intermodal freight transport and now carry most seagoing non-bulk cargo. Today, about 90% of non-bulk cargo worldwide is transported by container. A cargo ship or freighter ship is any sort of ship or vessel that carries cargo, goods and materials from one port to another. Cargo ships are specially designed for the task, often being equipped with cranes and other mechanisms to load and unload, and come in all sizes. Bulk carriers make up 15%–17% of the world's merchant ships and they are specially designed to transport unpackaged bulk cargo such as grains, coal, ore and cement in its cargo holds. For all these ships the protection of vessels, cargo and crew is a priority, that’s why the adoption of VS technology plays a key part in terms of security and safety. Human error is regularly named as a major factor in ship accidents, and one way to avoid it is to aid seafarers by providing them with technology and equipment that is reliable and easy to use in all weather and sea conditions. Marine VS encompasses liquefied natural gas (LNG) tankers, passengers ships, chemical tankers, crude oil tankers, container ships, general cargo ships and bulk carriers Emergency security solutions on ship One of the most important applications for camera stations is during “docking”. Mooring is the securing or confining of a vessel in a particular location with a fixed or a floating object (jetty, pier, ship, barge, buoy, etc.) as various cargo operations are carried out. Docking is the final stage of mooring operations when the ship docks to the jetty. This is a very delicate operation and cameras are very helpful in making sure docking is done without accidents.'Man overboard’ is an emergency in which a person has fallen off a boat or ship into the water, and can happen at any time during the day or night Another important application for camera stations is the Man Overboard detection system (MOB). ‘Man overboard’ is an emergency in which a person has fallen off a boat or ship into the water. Man overboard events can happen at any time during the day or night, in all types of weather and sea conditions, and from almost any location on the ship, ranging from a few tens of feet above the water, to over 180 feet.  When these events occur, the immediate availability of important data is crucial. Accurate confirmation of the event including time of occurrence, location on the ship and location in the sea is critical. A proactive detection system must immediately and accurately detect man overboard events and provide prompt, actionable data to response personnel. A typical man overboard detection system can report a MOB event in under 1 second. VS on a vessel can also monitor the engine room at all times and provide a good view of people working on dock, machinery and stowed equipment. But what are the most important features that a camera station must have to work in one of the most aggressive environments in nature? Marine surveillance must operate in one of the most harsh environments in nature Ruggedised reliability in surveillance First of all, and perhaps it’s obvious, but it’s extremely important to have camera stations with amazing reliability. Housing units manufactured from AISI 316L stainless steel, passivated and electropolished, makes the cameras completely impervious to air, water, rusting and corrosion, therefore offering excellent weather protection and increased reliability. Housing units manufactured from AISI 316L stainless steel, passivated and electropolished, makes the cameras completely impervious to air, water, rusting and corrosion Sometimes ships also use cameras constructed entirely from technopolymer, which guarantees high impact resistance and superior protection from external weather agents. Keeping the camera glass clean at all times is another essential feature, and it can be done via a wiper/wash system that greatly reduces the need for maintenance. In the case of PTZ cameras, the best option would be a great pan and tilt speed (up to 100°/s). What is the operative temperature range for the cameras? Sea is everywhere and therefore ships go everywhere, from the Arctic Ocean to the Mediterranean, so we need cameras that have to be fully operational across a wide temperature range.  -40°C to +65°C covers almost all areas. Analogue or IP Cameras? Actually, both options can be used, especially for applications like docking where it’s important to avoid image delay (as can happen with IP cameras due to the natural latency of data communication over a network). Marine certifications Last but not least, the certifications: Certifications guarantee the quality and reliability of camera stations. There is no compromise! One important certification is the Lloyd’s Register Type Approval which subjects cameras to rigorous testing for performance, vibration (critical on ships), humidity, etc. The application field of the LR Type Approval is VS in public places (e.g. passenger ships), open decks, enclosed spaces that are subjected to heat generated from other equipment, and technical premises. Often, VS cameras used in specific areas of ships, such as hazardous areas, are required to have ATEX and IECEX certifications.

Government institutions should utilise VSaaS for an integrated video surveillance system
Government institutions should utilise VSaaS for an integrated video surveillance system

Video surveillance as a service (VSaaS) is not just for commercial organisations. Federal, state and local governments can also realise benefits from the technology—and use it to deliver an integrated video surveillance system that addresses some of their unique security needs. Video Surveillance as a Service (VSaaS) What is VSaaS? Simply stated, it’s a cloud-based video surveillance solution that is packaged and delivered as a service over the internet. The price varies depending on the features of your plan (i.e. number of cameras, amount of storage, software features, etc.), and you pay a monthly subscription price to use it. How does it work? Internet Protocol (IP) cameras are installed at site locations, and the video is captured and streamed to a service provider’s data center via an internet connection. The video management software (VMS) runs on backend infrastructure provided by the service provider’s cloud. All video processing is done in the cloud, and all that is required to view the footage is an internet-connected device and a web browser. Retail, health care, education, and transportation all benefit from the flexibility and architecture of VSaas Growing VSaaS providers Solution providers such as Axis Communications, Genetec, and G4S among many others offer VSaaS solutions, and the market is growing. According to IHS Markit, the market is expected to reach $2.3 billion in 2021. VSaaS is a solution with cross-industry appeal. Retail, health care, education, and transportation all benefit from the flexibility and architecture of the solution. But how does VSaaS address the surveillance needs of government institutions? Geographic coverage and access To protect cities and towns, law enforcement must watch over widespread geographic areas. Their work involves monitoring and policing many different neighborhoods, buildings, garages, parks, and walking paths—basically anywhere there is property or people to protect. They rely on video surveillance to help them keep these environments safe. But it’s more than local law enforcement officers who use video footage. From local city officials to federal and state law enforcement agencies, many other people, at times, need access to video footage captured by city surveillance cameras. Centralised remote monitoring How does VSaaS help? VSaaS enables the installation of cameras throughout cities and communities and stream footage to a central location via the Internet. Because the system is centralised, it eliminates the need to manage a lot of different standalone DVRs or NVRs, which enables organisations to monitor a large area from a remote command center. VSaaS enables the installation of cameras throughout cities and communities and stream footage to a central location via the Internet Plus, anyone with proper credentials can access the footage from an Internet-connected device—whether that be a smartphone, laptop, desktop, or tablet. That makes it easier for multiple agencies to work together, which in turn can improve communication and response time to incidents. Budget concerns and flexibility Tight budgets are normal in government. As a result, it’s often a challenge to procure capital for new technology purchases—and that sometimes leads to underfunded projects and difficulty upgrading old technology. VSaaS changes the expense model. It allows you to shift from a capital expenditure (CapEx) model, where large capital funding is required to purchase equipment, to an operational expenditure (OpEx) model, where the costs of the solution become an operating expense. Since the cameras, installation, storage, and software are packaged into a service, you don’t need a large capital outlay up front—you simply pay a predictable expense every month. VSaaS provides the capability for you to increase storage capacity when you need it Feature and storage capacity upgrade features VSaaS also makes it easier to upgrade old technology. When new technology becomes available, you can upgrade to it as part of the service. You no longer have to stick with old technology because of capital budget restrictions. Instead, you can upgrade to better cameras and management software features as they become available. The same is true for storage capacity. As camera resolution increases, the amount of data captured also increases. In addition, with the evolution of smart city technology and big data analytics, video data has become more valuable. As a result, there is a need not only to store more data but also to keep that data accessible for a longer period of time. VSaaS provides the capability for you to increase storage capacity when you need it. You can scale to accommodate growth, and since the storage is delivered as part of the service, you can leverage the “pay for use” model to manage your costs. On-premise storage or hybrid Where should surveillance video be stored? It’s an important question. After all, government entities must always comply with data privacy laws and handle data properly to ensure it can be used as evidence if needed. As a result, officials may prefer to be selective about where they store video data. In fact, the concern over regulatory requirements and security and privacy issues, according to Gartner, will lead governments to implement private cloud at twice the rate of public cloud through 2021. The provider’s ability to store large amounts of data cost-effectively makes VSaaS possible That’s not necessarily a show-stopper when it comes to video surveillance. Some VSaaS providers offer hybrid options. Plus, one of the things that makes VSaaS possible is the provider’s ability to store large amounts of data cost-effectively. Because service providers can manage their storage infrastructures economically, they can offer their service at an attractive price. Multi-tier storage infrastructure In a way, government institutions (as well as commercial organisations) can do the same thing. If a government entity—for example, a small municipality—wanted to store their data on-premise or implement a hybrid configuration, they could solve some of their video storage challenges by implementing a multi-tier storage infrastructure similar to what a VSaaS provider might use to provide the actual service. A multi-tier storage infrastructure uses different storage media—disk, object storage, tape, and cloud—and combines them to deliver the total capacity needed while balancing performance and cost. The diagram below is an illustration of a multi-tier infrastructure: As the diagram shows, storage capacity grows using lower cost forms of media as volume and long-term retention requirements change. Files are moved between tiers based on user-defined policies. When the policies are met, the files are moved to a lower cost tier. Some file systems allow for multiple copies be written at ingest which not only minimises the traffic of moving files across the network, but also provides much needed data protection through a second copy on a lower-cost tier. This scenario enables you to optimise the amount of high-performance media in your infrastructure and lower the long-term cost of retaining files. VSaaS offers many benefits for government institutions and commercial organisations alike Choice of implementations VSaaS offers many benefits for government institutions and commercial organisations alike. But not every implementation has the same needs or requirements. The good news is, when it comes to video surveillance solutions, you have options. You can leverage the benefits of VSaaS, in either a public cloud or hybrid scenario, depending on the service provider. Or if your needs dictate, you can achieve some of the same capacity and cost-saving benefits you would get from a VSaaS solution by implementing an on-premise solution based on a centralised VMS system and multi-tier storage. The choice is yours.

What are the most valuable features of cloud security?
What are the most valuable features of cloud security?

Cloud computing has been around since the turn of the millennium. Over the years, the concept of storing and accessing programs over the Internet (instead of using an on-premises computer system) has grown in almost every realm of business. Some might say the physical security industry has come late to the party, delayed in some instances by (misguided?) concerns about cybersecurity of cloud systems. The bandwidth needed to transfer video to the cloud has also been a challenge. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: What features of Cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) are the most valuable to the average user?