Evaluating a Security Purchase Before You Write the Check

Issues to consider when upgrading video or access control systems


The type and extent of evaluating projects or equipment purchases prior to writing a check depends on the complexity and size of the security upgrade. The more complex the project or equipment purchase, the more effort that is needed to properly scope, design, select qualified vendors/suppliers and provide the needed contract documents to mitigate additional expenses. There are cases where the level of evaluation can be less intensive, but should still be thorough based on the size of the check. The larger the check, the more thorough the evaluation must be.
Like all decisions and evaluations in security, there are many aspects to consider. There is not one simple, easy-to-follow formula that will ensure a successful electronic security upgrade. Since this topic can cover every possible electronic security system function, I will look at situations that apply to the CCTV and access control electronic system functions to discuss the appropriate technical evaluations that should be considered before the check is written. The various situations will provide some concepts that can be applied to different electronic security purchases and projects.

CCTV System Upgrades
The first example involves an expansion of an existing CCTV system. In this example, we will assume that the existing system is:
1. Based on the technology we want to use when we expand; and
2. The basic front-end components are large enough to handle the expansion.
This purchase is primarily a large camera order, which is not overly complex, but will require a large check to be written.
We may be interested in a different camera from what is already being used and/or we may have other special issues that could include low-light outdoor applications, interior applications or applications where sunlight has a negative affect on using a CCTV camera. For example, a dock door facing east or west that causes sun glare when it is opened, or applications where the rising and/or setting sun causes glare problems.
No matter what the special issues are, there are some evaluation steps that can be taken to ensure the desired results before writing the check.
In this scenario, a different type or model camera might need to be purchased. Some of the basic evaluation issues would include the typical concerns for the desired CCTV applications, including lens, light level, technology, location, environmental issues and cost considerations.
Other than these typical considerations, an additional evaluation step should be taken — that is, the potential supplier should be asked to provide a sample of the actual camera that would be purchased so that it can be installed and tested in the location of concern. This enables the end-user to live with and totally understand, for a period of time, what their results will be when they purchase the additional cameras of the same type.
Obviously, the number of special-issue areas, different camera model numbers needed and any installation of loaned cameras from the supplier’s standpoint will depend on the size of the check. Most suppliers will be eager to help you with the needed camera or cameras (prior to purchase) based on the size of the project.

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