Blog | November 6, 2012

If You Think IP Cameras Are Too Expensive, Read This

By Mike Monocello, editor-in-chief, Business Solutions magazine
Follow Me On Twitter @monocello

I hear it all the time from integrators and VARs: "IP cameras are too expensive for my customers." If you're only comparing the cost of one camera to another, that might be true. But as an integrator, you know that one piece of equipment does not make a total solution. This definitely holds true in the video surveillance world.

If you're thinking about getting into IP cameras, please don't let the apparent high cost of IP dissuade you from making the leap. I picked up some very valuable information on this topic yesterday during day 1 of the Mobotix partner conference in Las Vegas.

A typical video surveillance solution would include video cameras, wiring, storage, a server, and video management software (VMS) to play back video and perform analytics. Each of those items would appear as a separate line item, with their own cost to your customer.

Here's how today's latest IP solutions (from Mobotix in this case) challenge the above model and pricing structure:

1. Mobotix touts a decentralized model -- basically, recording, notifications, VMS, and storage is done at each camera on the edge of the network. More specifically, each camera is basically its own computer, storing video to a memory card. Bandwidth is reduced because the camera is doing all the work. Only when video is remotely called up does the network see any real activity. I should point out that other manufacturers are beginning to offer similar functionality.

2. Mobotix' MXControl Center VMS is free. No license fees, and unlimited users and cameras. If you're new to, or unfamiliar with VMS, licenses and number of connections is how those companies make money. Mobotix integrators can lower the cost of their solutions with free VMS.

3. Then there's analytics. Many VMS vendors provide analytics. Some are provided as add-ons. Mobotix builds in functionality like heat mapping, people counting, and (something new to them) activity sensing which helps lower the likelihood of false alarms from movement. Again, free.

4. Additionally, Mobotix offers hemispheric cameras. That is, a centrally mounted camera in a ceiling can provide 360 degree views of a room. Being in Vegas for the partner conference, we counted 13 dome cameras in the one room we were in. Those 13 cameras conceivably could have been replaced with 1 camera with 360 degree capabilities, lowering the cost of the solution. Megapixel camera manufacturers make similar claims. In some applications, a single megapixel camera can cover an area that it would take 8 or more traditional analog cameras to cover.

5. Finally, there are some associated cost savings. By decreasing the number of cameras, the amount of cabling can be reduced, which also drops the cost of the solution. By having a decentralized approach, you don't have to buy a server. Then there's the energy savings from all the equipment you didn't have to install.

As I sat listening to the Mobotix presentations, it struck me that you might be holding back on IP camera adoption because of things that you don't know. Don't let that be the end to your story. Do some research, speak with your distribution partners, and learn the realities of IP cameras -- both the true cost of ownership and the exciting capabilities. Only then can you make a truly informed decision.

Now, I hope all that didn't come across as a commercial for Mobotix. That's not my intent. Rather, I want you see that while on the surface you could simply look at the cost of an IP camera and think "too expensive for my customers," when really, after you consider all that you get with the camera, the total cost of the solution is lower than you'd expect. Take a closer look at other manufacturers and I'm sure you'll find other ways that the cost of an IP solution can be reduced.

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