Cost allocation for surveillance and security in today’s gaming economy

10 long-term strategies to save money and improve TCO

As the gaming industry feels the woes of the world economy, mission-critical operations like surveillance and security have come under scrutiny as management looks at every expense to reduce overhead. Fortunately, professional security systems are making the long-overdue leap towards networked infrastructure and changing the way systems are managed — including both the initial costs of installation and the ongoing expense of system operation.

It is apparent that the technologies that drive surveillance and security in the gaming industry have transformed during the last decade — and with the changes come opportunities and challenges. Evaluating how new IP-based networked technologies are different vs. analog systems can lead you to discover more efficient ways to deploy video and security systems on an integrated platform — and actually save you money over the long haul.

The big picture, "Total Cost of Ownership" (TCO), is changing just as drastically and rapidly with the shift in technology paradigms, resulting in systems that actually reduce costs while improving performance.

For example, there are technical issues related to making equipment last longer, which lowers TCO. Concerns stem from the use of computer hard drives instead of magnetic tape, from leveraging IT networks instead of coaxial cable, and from how power is supplied to system components. Another issue being addressed is how to protect expensive cameras in hostile or environmentally challenging environments.

Beyond hardware and software requirements, underlying economic issues also relate to the cost structure of evolving technologies. Too often, users fixate on the price per camera rather than considering broader system costs and/or they fail to consider more economically efficient innovations such as megapixel imaging. There are also economic windfalls to be gained from strategic use of power supply systems including Power-over-Ethernet (PoE), and the benefits related to network storage (i.e., centralized vs. distributed).

Major components in TCO are equipment dependability and longevity. Here are some considerations that can boost equipment life and ensure continuous operation in the age of IP-based video systems:

Heat kills hard drives. The change from magnetic tape-based recording to hard-disk storage in a digital video recorder (DVR) or network video recorder (NVR) brings with it a new enemy to system dependability and longevity: heat. Users expect years of service from these expensive technologies; and environmental monitoring can boost longevity. High-speed hard drives in DVRs and NVRs can generate a considerable amount of heat, which is the top cause of component failure and/or shortened life span. Typically, these devices include cooling fans to minimize the impact, but an important and sometimes missing system component is a heat-sensing device to provide real-time monitoring of environmental conditions. IP-enabled heat sensors provide immediate notification when the temperature reaches a specified level and issues alarm notification. Almost as important, they enable the tracking of even slightly elevated temperatures over time, a condition that has a definite detrimental effect on DVR/NVR product life.
Is your network self-healing? Because video surveillance is so important to gaming environments, networks that carry digital video signals and data need to be as robust and resilient as possible. So-called "self-healing" networks can ensure system fault tolerance by providing alternative transmission paths for video and data signals in case of a network problem. For example, SONET (Synchronous Optical Network) ring architecture enables network traffic to be routed in a clockwise or counter-clockwise direction within a ring in order to restore connectivity in case of a network element failure. Mesh network topology is an approach that provides multiple redundant interconnections between network nodes to provide alternate communication paths if any cable or node fails. These approaches make networked video systems more reliable and adaptable in real-time to ensure continuous system operation.

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