Upgrade Or Replace 2
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Identifying Essential Features
While your system may be working well and have sufficient capability for expansion, it may be lacking features that are needed to effectively run your department. This can range from remote access to video files and system control, to fault tolerance for recorded images and data.
You will also need to look into whether or not you require your CCTV system to perform tasks that your current product simply doesn’t allow. For example, if you are looking to allow limited access to your CCTV system during the peak holiday season to measure the length of the Santa line or find the car park with the most available spaces.
Even if your system does allow limited access, you may find that you are not not compliant with all government regulations, including some that are only on the drawing board.
In these cases, expansion or repair is usually not an option: replacement of the system, or at least a portion of the system, is required to achieve the desired results.
One caution comes to mind: security systems are very much “utility” type products. They were purchased to perform a specific task and, in many cases, they are still doing so reliably and effectively. If your needs haven’t changed, and reliability is not an issue, beware of rushing in to upgrade software or firmware simply because the manufacturer now offers a newer version.
The old saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” comes to mind, and the problem the manufacturer is solving may not apply in your application. They may have released a new version to solve one bug, but do you really want to be the one to discover the new bugs?
The Future May Hold the Answer
The final reason for performing the upgrade or replace analysis is to determine whether your CCTV systems can be expanded to the capacity you will need, and whether or not it will be cost effective to do so. Both sides of this question are equally important.
Often systems can be expanded, but if this pushes you up against the system maximums, the next round might not be possible. If that is the case, you may want to skip this expansion and replace the head-end with one that has more headroom.
In other cases, expansion of older systems is not cost effective. The older architecture may be expensive to incrementally scale, while a new system can offer greater capacity for less than expanding the old one. This is particularly true with older video matrix switches and some access control systems.
Look to preserve as much of the existing infrastructure as possible when making this decision. The cost of the head-end may not be prohibitive. However, any savings may be negated if all new cabling or other accessory devices are required. Manufacturers are moving more and more toward platform interoperability. You should be able to reuse a portion of your existing system or replace it in a later budget cycle.
Case in point: One CCTV system we are working with has called for a complete replacement. While we would like this to include everything, including eliminating oversized fixed camera housings and mounts in favour of sleek, miniaturised fixed dome cameras, the image quality is remarkably good, particularly the black-and-white cameras. So, we’ve decided to defer that portion of the system replacement to another year, focusing instead on upgrading system control and adding digital recording.