6 Reasons Why CCTV Security Systems are Vital for Your Business

Do we pay the price of keeping our facilities safe and secure? Do we have a good ROI when we spend our hard earned cash on CCTV monitoring of our facilities? How crucial is it to have our premises covered by a well-designed professionally installed security system?

One of the most cost effective ways to provide security in the workplace is with CCTV Security or Video Surveillance Systems. The highly advanced technology of modern security cameras allow businesses to lower cost and risk by protecting their assets with continuous and seamless monitoring of their facilities. These relatively inexpensive cameras have in the most part replaced expensive security guards while increasing the reliability and accountability to near 100% by providing real time remote video surveillance.

Here are six reasons why CCTV systems are crucial and extremely necessary for businesses today:

  1. Reduce Cost and Risk

CCTV security systems prove themselves as the best investment as soon as they are installed. Full view of your premises and real-time recording as well as remote online access by owner/manager lowers the risk and prevents costly incidents such as burglary, fire, vandalism, etc.

  1. Prevent and Deter Crime

Criminals target buildings and facilities when they see there is no monitoring or watchdog. The very presence of CCTV cameras on an installation is enough to deter potential criminals and prevent their action at the outset. Similarly, by the sight of a safety hazard, employees can take the necessary action to reduce the risk and alleviate the source in the shortest possible times.

  1. Fool-Proof Coverage

A well-designed CCTV infrastructure is practically impenetrable and can provide 100% coverage. Multiple cameras keeping an eye on each other’s blind spots in addition to keeping an eye on the most vulnerable areas of the property, full monitoring is not hampered by human errors such as the guard being on shut-eye or being busy with something else. Remote online access as well as recording of the events documents everything should it be needed by the police or judge.

  1. Keep Your Employees Honest

CCTV cameras on the outside prevent break-ins by outsiders, but if installed inside the facility to monitor sensitive materiel, goods, and assets, as well as vulnerable areas of a facility, it will prevent wrong doing by company employees. Even if something happens, the recorded video will prevent wrong accusation and lack of trust among all staff.

  1. Encourage Good Behavior

CCTV cameras help in creating discipline among employees and customers alike.  CCTV cameras encourage employees and buyers to be on their best behavior alike. It also gives customers a sense of security and safety as they know they are protected and gives them confidence in doing business with you.

  1. Prevent Safety Incidents

CCTV cameras can be installed in high-risk areas of a business facility or establishment. These high-risk and accident-prone areas include locations where fires can break out as well as locations where a potential danger to the building and personnel exist. Properly selected cameras can prevent potential damage because emergency measures can be taken immediately with careful monitoring.

  1. Assist Law Enforcement

CCTV recording of the scene of the crime, allow law enforcement agencies to use the footage and release photos and videos of the culprits to the public. A picture or a video record of the suspect can make a huge difference when it comes to making an arrest and getting dangerous criminals off the street.

So there you have it! We hope that we have enlightened you on the importance of CCTV Security Systems for your business. If you wish to know more about CCTV systems, check out our article on How to Select the Correct CCTV Camera to Use?

Which Telephony Solution Costs Less to Implement – VoIP or analog POTS?

Telephones have always been and will continue to be a part of any office, hotel, or any industrial infrastructure. Today, there are still many design requirements where you see requests for analog phone systems, arguing cost saving reasons.

So the question would be: What is the most cost effective solution for telephony systems – Voice over IP (VoIP), or analog Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS)?

If you’re thinking “Of course VoIP”, I’m afraid that’s not a fully accurate answer – there are also exceptions!

Below I briefly explained which of the two costs lower to implement:

What are the situations where VoIP systems cost less to implement?

There are many situations where VoIP systems are simply the better option for telephony when it comes to saving costs.

1) Scattered and Large Infrastructures

The cabling costs for an analog or VoIP telephony solution on very small offices might not differ much, but the difference would be immense if we’re talking about large building infrastructures with hundreds of phone sets. In a VoIP setup, the same LAN network can be used for VoIP telephones with no need for expansion with a separate cabling infrastructure. However, in an analog telephone solution, you would need to lay copper cables from the PABX to each single point that requires a telephone connection, raising the need for expensive multi-pair copper cables for the telephony backbone.

2) Where Scalability is Demanded

In analog systems, a pair of twisted copper wires should connect each phone to the PABX. It means scalability would need to be designed from the beginning by using multi-pair cables with enough spare pairs to allow for future expansion. Without adequate spares for expansion, the laying of new cables would be simply unavoidable. In VoIP systems, there would be no need for new cabling to accommodate expansions in the network backbone.

3) When a High Number of Phones are Needed

Analog PABXs need to include individual circuits for every extension, and as the number of extensions increase, they simply are much more expensive than VoIP PABXs. VoIP PABXs can be as small as a 1U rack server with no need for separate electronics.

VoIP systems of course come with many extra benefits in addition to costs savings – such as a long list of features not available on analog systems, full integration with computer and data networks, much easier maintenance, software upgradability, and much more.

Therefore except for very small offices with less than a handful of phones, I can’t think of any other scenario for proposing a full-analog POTS PABX anymore. But this is not the end of story!

What are the situations where analog systems cost less to implement?

Don’t be surprised! There are still many situations where an analog system can be a more appropriate solution for at least part of the telephony system of an infrastructure.

1) Distant Locations with no Means of Electricity

VoIP phones need to be powered on to work! This is usually done by getting the power from a POE (Power Over Ethernet) network switch over the same network cable that connects the phone to the switch. However, this limits the distance to no more than 100 meters or 300 feet. But in analog POTS phones, the power to the phone is provided over the twisted pair cable which can be extended for up 2 miles (3 km) or more. It is not a rare scenario in industrial infrastructures where the telephony system would need to be extended to some remote locations.

2) Hotlines and Emergency Phones

Analog phones are still commonly used in industries as hotlines / emergency phones – they are independent from any network infrastructure and hence would still work in cases of emergencies like power cuts and shutdown of electricity to the infrastructure network.

Both VoIP and analog each have their own strengths in specific situations, which allow you to save on costs when implementing the correct telephony system. Today, there are technologies that allow both VoIP and analog systems to interface with each other. FXS cards or ATA adapters are usually used to interface an analog phone system to the now very common VoIP PBXs.

The Challenges of Unified ELV Implementation

In my recent article 5 Reasons Why Integrated ELV Systems Reduce Costs, I tried to explain briefly how a well-designed integrated and IP-based unified ELV system considerably reduces construction costs.

However, like any other good thing, this comes with its own set of challenges to tackle!

Integrating complex ELV systems into a single LAN network requires high design experience and extremely good knowledge about integrated technologies.

The network designer who is responsible for the design of the unified ELV system must have an in-depth understanding of both the passive layer (cabling/containment) and the active layer (network switches and routers).

One of the main challenges in utilizing the same network for different systems is the calculation of the required bandwidth. This is especially important to ensure that audio/video related technologies such as CCTV (surveillance cameras), IPTV (TV system) and VoIP (telephone) – systems that highly depend on IP streaming techniques – are not jittered.

Some of the design considerations needed to achieve the best results are listed as follows:

  • Ensuring a proper network topology with correct IP plan that allows expandability
  • Ensuring the usage of correct network switches to achieve the needed bandwidth while controlling the costs
  • Determining the correct backbone media to use for future expansion
  • Ensuring proper network segregation by implementing Virtual LAN (VLAN) techniques
  • Implementing IGMP snooping for controlling IPTV multicasts
  • Ensuring backbone redundancy

Another challenge to tackle at the design level of a unified ELV system is selecting the right products to use. There are so many brands for so many systems that need to be integrated into a unified, IP-based solution – and due to the diversity of solutions, there is no single brand that even claims they can cover everything.

So it becomes absolutely critical to ensure that the right products from correct vendors are determined for each specific project, based on the project requirements as well as the priorities. It is also very important to ensure that the selected solutions can actually seamlessly blend into a single, unified solution.

5 Reasons Why Integrated ELV Systems Reduce Costs

In this article I want to quickly go over 5 reasons on why designing integrated ELV systems considerably reduces construction costs.

Unfortunately, many ELV designers still base their designs on traditional systems running on proprietary networks for various building management systems, as well as separate telephony, data and television networks each with their separate/multiple cabling systems.

This results to increased costs, limited functionality, and complex management.

The solution is a modern design based on integration of all ELV systems over an IP-based network.  This calls for a higher level of technical expertise and experience, and a good combination of networking and ELV knowledge. As you will see below, the results are higher efficiency at lower OPEX and CAPEX costs, and reduction in risks of delay:

1- Unified Cabling and Pathways

Unlike traditional solutions where each system would need to use its own cabling system and pathway (CAT6 for network, copper multi-core twisted pair for telephony, coaxial cable for TV systems, twisted cable for PAGA, control cable for ACS, …), in a modern IP-based ELV design, all systems mainly use the same common data network, hence considerably decreasing the costs on cabling and pathways.

Of course the installation of common cabling and pathways requires planning of the containment systems at the early stages of the project so that the optimum routes can be designed by experienced network designers.

2- Less Quality / Interference Problems

One of the key challenges of traditional analog designs especially for systems such as CCTV, telephony, and television is the complication during the design and installation to ensure that proper quality of audio and picture is obtained. Although things might look good on paper, in the course of installation and commissioning many unforeseen problems usually pop up, which cause further unexpected delays on project timelines and increase on forecasted costs.  Problems can arise such as grounding problems, quality issues of cables and connectors, and electrical and ground-loop noise which directly affect analog solutions. In IP based solutions, by implementing a digital/IP based backbone these issues are no longer a concern.

3- Lower Costs for Expandability

Most of traditional ELV systems are very limited on the available means of expandability over large compounds. For example, to expand a conventional analog telephony, CCTV, or public alert system over a medium-sized compound, kilometers or miles of cables need to be physically laid. This calls for expensive, multi-core copper cables that are both expensive and hard to lay. While on new IP based solutions, the network cloud consisting of all types of connection mediums such as much less expensive fiber cables or even microwave links can be used to seamlessly interconnect remote areas at a fraction of the costs of traditional solutions.

4- Easier Management and Troubleshooting

IP-based unified ELV solutions are by far easier to manage and troubleshoot, because the maintenance staff do not need to bother about multiple cabling systems and connections, and the cabling (called physical layer in data networks) is easily managed and checked. The overall needed experience and troubleshooting time required for maintaining the systems are also considerably lower and usually a single computer would be sufficient for managing and troubleshooting the all systems from a centralized location.

5- Capability for Remote Management

Unlike traditional analog solutions, IP-based systems can be remotely managed and reconfigured, with minimum physical changes required. This saves considerably on maintenance costs while bringing many new features and possibilities.

Other Benefits of Unified ELV Systems

Costs savings is not the only benefit of modern IP-based integrated ELV systems – there are more benefits such as:

  • Much more functionalities and features
  • Expandability with no need to redo the infrastructure
  • Software upgradability
  • Integration of different systems

In a future article I will explain the challenges of designing modern integrated ELV systems.

Why hiring a single ELV designer makes no sense

I constantly encounter job advertisements where a construction design company is looking to hire a single ELV designer to handle all their ELV works. Well, for those familiar with the industry, this simply causes a bitter smile – since there is no such magic!

This wrong perception is mainly because of a simplified comparison of ELV designs with electrical designs (maybe due to the “Extremely Low Voltage” terminology)! However, unlike electrical designs, where an electrical designer can very much do all the principle LV designs that is required for a building, in ELV we’re dealing with a very broad range of diverse technologies including but not limited to data, telephony, CCTV, ACS (Access Control System), PAGA (Public Alert and General Alarm), Fire Alarm, IDS (Intrusion Detection System), television systems, audio / video solution, and home automation.

Expecting a single engineer being able to properly cover all these technologies is like referring to the same doctor as your Dentist, Allergist, Physiologist, Psychiatrist and Cardiologist!

What is the correct Solution?

Proper ELV design calls for a team of designers who cover all the needed expertise to enable them to provide an appropriate solution through combined effort and teamwork. The actual number of designers in the team and their expertise is of course dependent on the complexity and scale of the project. However even for smallest solutions, below are the key members of an ELV design team:

  • Team Leader: the Team Leader should have a good general knowledge of all technologies and the needed capabilities to lead the team and to make sure the provided design covers all the specified criteria.
  • Network Engineer: IP Networking is the foundation of any modern ELV design. Proper design of the network infrastructure is therefore the fundamental necessity to guarantee a successful solution.
  • Safety and Security Engineer: a good engineer with sufficient expertise and experience in designing safety and security solutions including CCTV, ACS and Fire Alarm is a key member of any ELV design team.
  • Audio / Video Engineer: audio / video solutions are another part of most ELV designs which have their totally separate field of expertise and hence an audio / video expert is a key member of any ELV design team.