Should You Go for Green Video Surveillance?

By John Honovich, Published Sep 07, 2009, 08:00pm EDT

Aimetis joins the chorus of manufacuters praising the benefits of green, energy efficient video surveillance. In Aimetis new whitepaper, they make the most complete case yet [link no longer available].

The main problem is that the economics -- hard cost reduction -- is weak. Secondly, this only works for video surveillance deployments where the end user actually pays for the electricity usage.

Aimetis essentially makes ever pitch in the book:

  • Remote monitoring reduces carbon dioxide emissions. I am sure it does but the reason remote monitoring is a huge benefit (for both DVRs and IP video) is the labor and travel cost savings. 
  • Virtualization reduces hardware footprint: Applicable for email and other general application servers but not for video surveillance where the servers tend to run to capacity most of the time.
  • IP video software reduces energy costs of running multiple DVRs. Aimetis provides an example of 70 cameras and 4 DVRs being replaced by 1 server, saving $1,000 per year. Even assuming everything Aimetis says is accurate, that's a few thousand dollars of saving for a systems that cost at least $50,000 USD. In percentage terms, it's not huge. Worse, if that server now requires racks of encoders to support legacy analog cameras, power consumption will almost certainly be worse. Finally, IP cameras usually require more power than their analog counterparts. Even if it's only 2 watts more for a 70 camera system, that's the equivalent of an extra PC.
  • Video analytics reduce energy consumption of storage by reducing outdoor storage use by up to 50%. This one makes a lot of sense but primarily because of the hard cost reduction of storage. It's cutting tens of thousands of up-front storage costs that will drive the deal.
The reality is green technology and environmental conservation is hot. Because of that, vendors will want to tap into this hype. And some end users may be responsive, if not for economic than for personal reasons. However, the ROI is questionable.

Finally, this is a non-starter for any end user who does not pay for electricity costs directly. This is a common situation, especially when security is purchasing the system. I have never had a security manager highlight energy consumption as a major cost or issue in selecting systems. While I am sure some do, it's unlikely that this is generally a major concern.

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