What's the Best Video Surveillance for a Hotel Chain?

Author: John Honovich, Published on Dec 14, 2009

What's the best video surveillance solution for a hotel chain? In the US alone, there are about 50,000 total hotel properties requiring safety and security solutions.

In this report, we examine the needs of an actual hotel chain and examine what solution would fit best. [Note: this is a real hotel. To protect their privacy, we are not disclosing their name or distinguishing details.]

Background of the Hotel

The hotel has over 100 locations across North America. They are a mid-scale hotel chain offering quality services at reasonable prices.

Like many mid-scale hotels, they have a central security department who investigates issues. However, they do not have on-site security operations at each hotel nor do they centrally monitor security systems on a continuous basis. The hotel has intrusion detection systems that are monitored by third party providers.

Current Systems

The hotel uses GE's SymSecure and StoreSafe DVRs at about half of their current properties. They currently use only analog cameras.

Their facilities have modest numbers of cameras with an average of 6 to 8 cameras and a maximum of 16 cameras. Cameras are primarily in the interior ground floor of the hotels.

Security / Losses

The hotel has low historical losses and moderate security risks.

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Like many hotels with LCD TVs, one of their most common concerns is the theft of those TVs.

Objectives

The hotel is planning to (1) expand the use of surveillance to more locations and (2) add in IP cameras. In doing so, the following elements are important:

  • Options to GE Security: The hotel has been tracking the sale of GE Security and are concerned about future path of GE Security products. Like many GE customers, they see that GE is slow in new product development. While they do not need to be on the cutting edge, they would prefer products that do not lag significantly.
  • Full Hybrid: The hotel would like to add IP but current GE DVRs are extremely limited in their 'hybrid' offerings (only GE cameras and only a few per appliance). New GE products may be released in the future but when and what they will support are important open questions.
  • Budget Conscious: Like many security departments, the hotel would like to keep future expenditures on DVRs consistent with previous purchases. Historically, the price for GE DVRs was approximately $5,000. The hotel wants a reliable way to access video but does not need lots of 'bells and whistles.'
  • Simplified Management: Since they have many locations and many employees accessing video, they would like to make it easy to do so. Specifically, having a single DVR supplier (GE) would maximize the chance of using a single client for all sites. If the hotel adds a new line of DVRs, this would increase the confusion and complexity of determining which sites require which viewing software.

Potential Options

I think 3 potential options are the most reasonable:

  • Continue with GE: The hotel can continue with GE DVRs. The upside is that it will not require any changes for their employee's use. It is unlikely that UTC will discontinue DVRs so worst case the hotel continues with lagging/average equipment. The downside is that they may be behind a few years in taking advantage of emerging technologies such as megapixel cameras.
  • Hybrid DVRs: There are a growing number of DVR manufacturers that offer broad IP camera support at low prices. Three options to consider: Exacq EL, 3xLogic and Avermedia (for background, see our overview of 3xLogic and tests results of Avermedia). All 3 offer broad megapixel support and centralized management capabilities at prices $5,000 (or considerably less).
  • Managed DVRs: Managed/hosted video would allow for simple access for any hotel employee from any location (inside or outside hotel properties). This is a growing trend that could benefit the hotel (see our comparison report on managed/hosted video). However, currently, managed provider offering an 8 to 16 channel hybrid solution is limited (see Envysion).

Likely Poor Fits

A number of commonly used offerings are likely to be poor fits for this hotel chain:

  • Software Only: The camera counts are low and the complexity of setting up PCs at each location is just not necessary. Plus, this would require separate encoder appliances for most VMS systems.
  • NVRs: Since so many cameras will be analog, 'pure' NVRs that require separate encoder appliances for analog cameras would be more costly and complex than hybrid DVRs. QNAP NVRs are a good example of this approach.
  • PSIM: The hotel does not need to automate complex workflows nor respond to regular emergencies. While the hotel would benefit from a single user interface for multiple DVR systems, the cost of even 'inexpensive' PSIMs ($30,000+) makes this difficult to justify.

What Do You Think?

Are there other options the hotel should consider? Are we missing key considerations?

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