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

10 long-term strategies to save money and improve TCO

Use your power wisely. Use of an appropriate power supply to provide system components with adequate and regulated power levels can prevent possible damage to downstream system components. It can be expensive when excess power “fries” a delicate networking component. The sheer variety of system components in networked systems requires diverse power supply components to satisfy electrical current needs. Power supplies also contribute to system reliability in the form of uninterruptible power supplies (UPS), short circuit and overload protection, and fused or circuit breaker-protected outputs. And with the continued migration to IP systems infrastructure, the use of PoE greatly reduces costs. More on PoE can be found later in this article.

Protecting cameras in hostile environments. Video cameras have to keep functioning despite what goes on around them on the gaming floor, in back areas where cash is handled, offices, guest areas, parking lots — virtually everywhere in and around gaming facilities. Cameras enclosed by vandal-or bullet-proof dome housings can withstand whatever happens even in hostile environments. For cameras installed outdoors, the use of environmentally resistant domes can keep cameras operating dependably despite humidity, dust or other environmental challenges.

Dealing with changing cost structures. Often, when a user considers economic justification or return on investment (ROI), they do so in the context of yesterday’s technology paradigm rather that today’s (or tomorrow’s). Hardware and software innovation can transform cost considerations and strategies.

Here are some suggestions for end-users:

Reevaluate how you calculate TCO. If "cost per camera" was ever an effective measure of system expenses, it certainly isn’t so with networked systems. Network cameras may be more expensive than analog cameras, but the network infrastructure that supports the cameras can be less expensive. One reason is because existing networking infrastructure can enable a camera or any edge device to be installed inexpensively at any point along the network — thus saving the cost of running coaxial cable and providing localized power at the location. Networked systems can also use generic network equipment, to some degree, to minimize equipment expenditures compared to analog infrastructure, which was often proprietary. Taking a broad-based approach to assessing system costs can provide a better comparison when choosing between analog and IP-based systems. It is also helpful to look at the system’s ongoing costs over time.

Megapixel video can actually save money. Some IP cameras offer higher resolution in the range of millions of pixels. Megapixel cameras provide images with far more detail than their analog cousins. In fact, one megapixel camera can cover a larger area and take the place of several analog cameras or cameras that use mechanical pan-tilt-zoom. Users can electronically zoom in on any part of a megapixel image and have sufficient detail to see what is happening, whether in real-time or on stored/recorded video. At the same time, the larger image is still being recorded, so there is no risk of losing video evidence by missing an important event happening in one area because a camera is zoomed in or focused on a different area. The ability to use fewer cameras helps to offset the higher prices of megapixel cameras. Megapixel cameras also facilitate video analytics at a much higher level given their accuracy and detail. These factors alone can dramatically reduce system-wide equipment costs.

Centralization of power. PoE technology enables power to be transmitted along network cables to any edge device on the network; and low-voltage current travels along wire pairs that are part of the network connection. PoE eliminates the need to provide a separate power source, such as a wall-pluggable power adapter for each camera in an IP-based system and the need for the wall outlet itself. Instead, a centralized source provides power to many network nodes. PoE can save dollars when a system is installed, and centralized power sources can be monitored more easily to ensure continuous system operation. Centralized power also reduces the need to locate additional "closets" to contain power systems across a network. In addition, the use of uninterrupted power supplies (UPS) can also be applied more easily in a centralized system to ensure that cameras are always operating even in the event of a power failure or brownout.