By Mae Kowalke
The use of video surveillance as a public safety and security tool is growing. Partially, that’s because homeland security regulations and initiatives around the world are driving deployment. It’s also because high capacity wireless data networks have brought down the cost of infrastructure to the point where the ability to provide comprehensive coverage is practical and cost-effective.
However, it should be noted that the initial investment and operation and maintenance costs of video surveillance can be significant. This is highlighted by the fact that protection responsibility is shifting from police/military to infrastructure owners.
“In the US energy market, for example, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation-Critical Infrastructure Protection regulations require that utilities tightly control access to their most important infrastructure,” notes Sheridan Nye, Senior Analyst at Informa Telecoms and Media’s Enterprise Verticals practice, in a LifeTalk article, “Is Video Surveillance Worth the Investment?”
Since the security benefits of video surveillance can be significant, companies and organizations either voluntarily looking to deploy this technology, or those compelled to do so by regulations, are considering a variety of strategies to justify the expense and achieve cost savings. One of these is to look at indirect cost savings that can be viewed as return on investment (ROI) for capital expenditures on security network infrastructure.
For video surveillance systems, Nye notes, ROI is usually indirect, and comes from multiple sources. He further states that, “Protecting assets … has a direct impact on insurance premiums as well as meeting regulatory requirements.”
In the U.K., video surveillance is being embraced to counter metal theft, which is a big problem. Copper, which fetches a high (and rising) price, is especially appealing to thieves. The rail industry in the U.K. alone lost £43 million worth of metal in the last three years, and companies are spending at least £12 million each year on security to prevent metal theft.
Although video surveillance may not be able to prevent this theft in the first place, items like pipes and cables can be visibly marked to be traceable if stolen. In fact, situational awareness, public safety officials being able to deploy pervasive video surveillance and potential bad actors knowing it is present, is also a deterrent to potential thieves.
As potentially useful as video surveillance can be for security, it’s especially difficult for public safety agencies to afford the technology, since there have been major funding cuts in the past several years due to the recession. Often, video surveillance is only an option if the cost is shared with other organizations.
“Video is an example of a service that can be shared between the transport service and the police or other agencies like the ambulance service,” Nye points out. This is why being able to leverage the deployment of LTE is so critical since they dramatically cut the costs of deploying a wired-based video surveillance network and can be share by multiple parties.
In addition, complementary technology, such as motion detectors, can also reduce the cost of operating video surveillance systems. Compressing video to lower quality when precise imagery isn’t necessary can also help by boosting efficiency and network capacity.
The most recent issue of LifeTalk which features multiple articles on the issues and value of deploying a comprehensive video surveillance capability is worth a read. It includes a variety of perspective as well as information about the differences between U.K. and U.S. markets, projections for deployment growth along with features on partnering and what the Sao Paulo Militar are doing in Brazil .