Seeing the Big Picture
Build a strong case for ROI when considering new technologies
- By Scott Schafer
- Apr 01, 2010
Megapixel IP cameras and systems
can have a profound
impact on security solution
purchases because they can significantly
improve return on investment and
A convincing business case for purchasing
new security imaging technology
cannot be created unless you
know what you're buying. Knowledge
of new and emerging technologies is
the security professional's best tool to
separate hype from reality. Megapixel
camera technology provides the most
superior imaging quality, and better
images make for better systems. Making
smart technology choices can help
a company leverage the benefits of innovation
while still minimizing costs.
Taking the economy into consideration,
companies need to be careful
about how they spend money. The tightening
of corporate spending patterns
extends beyond the residual impact of
the recent economic downturn. An ongoing
trend toward leanness is affecting
expenditures that are expected to provide
ROI. Security professionals are well
aware that all capital expenditures face
incredible scrutiny at the corporate level.
Quite simply, the value of a purchase is
more important than the price.
The Case for Megapixel Cameras
Megapixel IP cameras on IP recording
platforms are extremely cost effective.
Fewer megapixel cameras are required
to cover the same physical area, and
resolution and picture quality are greatly
improved over standard-resolution
cameras. Using fewer cameras offers
the additional cost-saving benefit of reduced
cables, camera housings, lenses,
NVR licensing fees and NVR systems,
and installation expenditures.
Even before factoring in the value
of megapixel imaging, IP security systems
already offer several benefits that
can help make a case for strong ROI.
Standardized IT-based components.
IP video systems are created using the
same building blocks—servers, network
switches and digital storage—that make
up the IT industry. Competition among
suppliers of industry-standard systems
tends to lower prices and increase technology
advances. Product functionality
is enhanced even as the prices come
down. There also is a broader choice of
sources for new equipment and technology
Ability to use existing infrastructure.
For new installations, cabling costs can
be significantly lower if the IP system
uses existing Ethernet infrastructure.
For example, existing fiber-optic cables
can be leveraged for networked systems.
More importantly, the video security
network architecture, design and
support can be identical to the network
that is deployed for other IT and networking
Software flexibility. Because the
brains of IP video systems are in the
software, it is much easier to update
or upgrade a system. Software can be
updated over the Internet, and updating
both firmware and software is more
efficient and less expensive than physically
Smarter systems. Paying operators
to watch a display of 10 to 500 cameras
for hours is expensive and impractical.
Expecting the operator to be monitoring
the correct camera at the precise
time to enact PTZ mechanical functionality
is wishful thinking. Viewing
the stored megapixel image and being
able to electronically PTZ the image to
extract the information needed is much
more practical and economical. Forensic,
stored data and images can be more
easily retrieved through more sophisticated
network video platforms.
Technology that combines analytics
with digital imaging is capable of sensing
a change in a video frame and then
alerting a human operator only in case
of a rules-based alarm.
Fewer cables. The basic structure of
an Ethernet network contributes to lowered
cabling costs because a camera can
connect to the nearest network node, as
opposed to using a coax cable to connect
to a centralized recorder. Cat-5 cabling
used in IP networks is less expensive
than coaxial, weighs less and has a faster
transmission speed. Because it is a part
of the company's standard IT architecture,
the IT department is more accepting
of Ethernet cabling over coax cable.
Power over Ethernet. Connections
can be simplified by using PoE technology
for IP systems. The camera is powered
by the same cable as the network
connection, eliminating the need for a
separate power source to the camera.
For non-PoE implementations, separate
electrical wiring and installation
When evaluating the numbers for
a new 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. Users may
react to the price of single components
and dismiss a new technology as too
expensive without considering how the
extra expense will be offset by added
functionality and other system cost savings.
For megapixel cameras, factors
helping to offset a higher price include
the need for fewer cameras, a decrease in
infrastructure and installation costs, the
elimination of mechanical PTZ devices
and a reduction in operations staff.
Megapixel video camera technology
provides clear images that can be
enlarged so the security team and law
enforcement can see all the necessary
details. The security professional's task
is to quantify that value, demonstrate
to management the financial impact of
being able to solve a case or thwart a
fraudulent liability lawsuit. Megapixel
video is a valuable tool for achieving
these goals. The precise value of the
added performance and functionality is
dependent on each application and specifi
c to each end-user company.
A challenge for security professionals
is to demonstrate the value to their
company's executives using management
and security metrics. Knowledge
is vital—both of the technologies and their capabilities and how they can
impact the company's profitability.
Superior Images: Worth the Cost
When dealing with corporate spending
constraints, security professionals
should consider the initial cost and
ongoing expenses of new technology.
Above all, one should focus on the value
technology can bring to the enterprise,
for example, by protecting corporate
assets, improving loss prevention,
defending against expensive liability
lawsuits and making simple security
operations more efficient.
Even with tight budgets, certain
methods can help demonstrate and assign
value to the benefits of new technologies,
especially megapixel video.
The system integrator also can help
his or her customer build a credible
business case. Here's how:
Demonstrate the value of using
megapixel IP solutions. Show how
other organizations have benefitted
from megapixel technology solutions.
Look for ways that traditional video
has failed and explain how megapixel
video is better. We have all seen analog
recordings of poor crime scene videos.
With megapixel video camera resolutions
being up to 30 times greater,
details can be more easily discerned.
Additionally, one can zoom in after
an event and further enhance those
details, which is a challenge for analog
and low-definition cameras.
Be specific about cost savings. Create
a spreadsheet comparing costs of a
system using megapixel cameras versus
standard IP and analog cameras. Focus
on the specific financial impact of using
fewer cameras or eliminating PTZ.
Factor in all the costs, including infrastructure
savings, reducing the number
of components—such as cameras
and cabling—installation and support
savings, and operator savings. Provide
a case that translates the technology
benefits into operational advantages
for the company.
Become a trusted partner and consultant.
Providing real service and value
will convince your decision makers that
you want to meet their specific business
needs. Trust will be your reward.
Emphasize better image resolution.
The quality of a megapixel image is a
great selling tool for the technology.
Viewing live and recorded megapixel
images is one of the best ways to make
a strong case for the new system.
Better Days Ahead
When the economy recovers, there
will be huge opportunities to apply
IP-based megapixel video products
to new projects. And even during
times of economic challenges, there
are still significant opportunities for
IP-based megapixel video products to
make security systems more effective
If we learn how to communicate
a measurable return on investment to
companies and our clients, it will empower
us to take the industry to the
next level. Choosing megapixel imaging
technology can profoundly expand
the functionality and ROI opportunity
of any IP-based