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The true cost of a security system: Beyond the cameras and installation

Steven Kenny, Architect and Engineering Program Manager – EMEA, Axis Communication
Steven Kenny, Architect and Engineering Program Manager – EMEA, Axis Communication

Investing in a security system is a crucial step in protecting your property and ensuring the safety of your business. However, you need to consider more than just the upfront camera, storage, and installation costs.

Take the time to think about how the system will be used and the associated costs. In the Middle East, extreme weather conditions such as sandstorms and high humidity can impact the lifespan of surveillance equipment, leading to higher maintenance costs if equipment isn’t built to withstand this. What’s more, the type of cameras and devices used can impact future expenses, including power consumption and maintenance costs.

By considering the total cost of ownership when choosing a new security system, you can make an informed decision that takes into account both the upfront and long-term costs of owning and operating the system. This will ensure that you have a comprehensive security solution that provides protection for years to come.

Mapping out the bigger picture costs

When buying a surveillance system, consider your requirements and budget to narrow your options. Many people focus solely on the cameras, but you should think about the system as a whole, including energy use and storage needs. What are the costs associated with operating, monitoring, and maintaining the cameras? These costs can often exceed the cost of the cameras and should be factored into your purchasing decision. The security system will need to support your needs for the foreseeable future, so it’s important to make a well-informed decision.

When evaluating a new surveillance system, you should factor in the cost of storing the footage that’s recorded. Legislation typically requires potential evidence to be stored for a month, but in some cases, this can be extended up to 180 days. Carefully analyse the storage costs associated with each camera model to avoid being surprised by the significant server and electricity expenses later on. Cheaper cameras may have larger storage requirements that can end up costing more in the long run, and compressing video footage to save on storage could compromise the quality of the evidence. To accurately forecast the full cost of a security system, include indirect costs like monitoring, maintenance, and electricity use. Opting for cheaper cameras at the start could result in higher indirect costs; choosing higher-quality cameras can lead to long-term savings that can be reinvested in your business.

By considering how your initial decision on which type of camera to buy can impact the chain of future costs, you can shift the purchasing decision into an investment. And achieving this can be as simple as asking yourself a few questions:

  • What camera functionality do I require?
  • How much storage will I need if I purchase those cameras?
  • How much electricity will be required to run the system in the long run?
  • How do the technologies these cameras offer affect the total costs?

Looking beyond the camera price tag

When buying a security system, decisions often come down to the cost of just the cameras, storage, and installation, yet taking this approach can leave the end user with major challenges ahead. Making the right choice based on the bigger picture can mean a slightly higher initial outlay, but it pays off in the long run.

Taking the time to ask the right questions at the outset – and finding partners who are open to answering those questions and helping you calculate the long-term costs – allows you to avoid any nasty surprises in future electricity, storage, operational or maintenance costs. It will also ensure that you end up with the right security system for your specific requirements.

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