Upgrade Or Replace

Comments Off on Upgrade Or Replace

With technology rapidly advancing in the develoment of CCTV security systems, the debate over whether or not to maintain, upgrade or replace aging electronic security systems rages on. Should you maintain the status quo by performing maintenance and repairs? Upgrade a system (or portions thereof)? Or just chuck it all and replace it?

This is not simply a technical question. For many it encompasses all areas of a security operation and requires consideration of a number of factors.

This article is not about building or adding on to a system. Instead, it discusses the three most important factors that you should consider when making a decision on the future of your CCTV security system:

  • Functionality – is everything working as required?
  • Features – does your operation require specific features?
  • Future – does your system have the capacity to grow to accomodate future needs?


Systems that are not functioning properly may be unreliable or of insufficient quality for the application. This includes:

  • Poor image quality on CCTV footage;
  • Dated export software, that restricts the viewing of CCTV footage;
  • Ambiguous representations of date and time.

An important question to ask is, "Can it be repaired cost effectively?" Surprisingly, that question isn’t always as simple as it sounds. A system can be unreliable because of the application, hardware or installation. If it is either of the first two, you’re often better off replacing it. If the equipment isn’t right for your application, it will never be reliable. If the equipment isn’t up to the task, same answer. If the installation is at fault, you need to do some more investigating before making a decision.

You’re better off remedying some types of problems before you rip out a system and replace it with one that performs equally poorly. These can include: the wrong type of wire was pulled, the equipment was not terminated properly, power or thermal issues, or one of a host of installation-related gremlins.

Another question that should be asked is whether or not the CCTV equipment is approaching the end of its serviceable life. We usually think of this being age-related (monitors, for example, have a finite operating life that is often exceeded), but there are two other reasons that come to mind. The first is whether the product still exists or is supported by the manufacturer.

The other end-of-life issue occurs when a technology is rendered obsolete and will shortly lack even basic market support. The best example of this is the multiplexer/VCR combination, which provides poor quality, low frame rate images and is subject to a host of problems that go unnoticed until there is a problem. The worst time to find out that the heads were worn on the VCRs, the tapes had not been changed or a power glitch had stopped the VCR is when there’s an incident at your facility.

Newer technology has surpassed the realm of "nice to have" – the alternatives are so superior to tape – and has become a necessity. Other examples include DVRs that use operating systems no longer supported by the manufacturer (Microsoft®, for example, has announced the end of the road for Windows™2000) or technologies that consume more space, power and cooling than their more modern counterparts (CRT monitors, for example).

If your facility is still hanging on to a type of technology like this, there had better be a plan in place to ensure replacement – along with a strongly written letter in a file to cover yourself when inevitable problems arise.

The next installment of this article will appear in a fortnight, and encompasses the Features and Future aspects of your CCTV system.

Comments are closed