Service / Maintenance Contracts Guide

Author: Ethan Ace, Published on Oct 20, 2011

To keep any surveillance system up and running, regular maintenance needs to be performed. However, it is often unclear what should be in included, how often it should be done and how much should be charged. This is especially true of IP surveillance, with its added complexities: switches, servers, wireless access points, etc. As such, integrators normally offer maintenance contracts for these systems, which can included a wide variety of services. In this note, we provide recommendations on common services, options and costs.

Replacing Broken Equipment

The first, and potentially most important article to be covered in any service contract is break/fix response. Response times vary between integrators and end users, with quicker response times, or 24/7 response driving contract price higher. Most commonly, next business day response is written into service contracts. However, times may vary, such as during the next scheduled preventative maintenance visit, or next business day, or four hours, and any variations in between.

In some contracts, certain items are covered under one response time, and others under a longer response time. A second monitor failing on a secondary workstation may be replaced during the next maintenance visit, while a critical camera covering the main entrance may require same-day replacement. This is all dependant on the criticality of the customer and their system, the maintenance budget, and negotiations with the integrator.

Camera Maintenance

As for preventative maintenance, the first item that usually comes to mind is camera maintenance. If the cameras fail, the systems are incapacitated. There are a few tasks involved in this:

  • Cleaning: Typically, multiple times per year, the integrator will clean cameras. This usually involves at least cleaning domes and lenses, as well as blowing out camera enclosures, so they are free of dust. The frequency of this depends on climate, but is normally no less than twice per year. Rainy areas may need to do it more often, to avoid excessive water marks on domes, while drier areas may hardly need cleaning.
  • Field of View/PTZ Preset Checks: The cameras current fields of view should be checked and compared with the initial installation. If they have drifted, whether through a housing that wasn't quite mounted properly, or via the mechanism of a PTZ, they're readjusted if the FOV is no longer sufficient. In some cases, upon customer request, the FOV may be changed slightly during maintenance visits. Relocating cameras is normally outside the scope of the agreement, however.
  • Firmware Updates: Camera firmware updates are a matter of preference. Most users prefer, and we agree, to leave firmware alone unless there is a definite reason to upgrade it, such as bugfixes for a specific issue. The risk is that the new firmware will be incompatible or create new issues with the existing production system. If the camera is performing as expected, be careful about doing firmware upgrades. Manufacturers may disagree with this but they also can rarely guarantee that there will not be unexpected side effects.

PC Maintenance

The servers and workstations in the system are normally checked on a regular basis as well. As far as physical maintenance, this usually amounts to simple tasks: opening the case of the PC and blowing out dust, making sure power cords are secured, etc. On the software side, log files are reviewed and checked for any unexpected errors or indications of poor health.

Software parameters such as retention times and motion recording settings can deeply affect how much video is stored on a customer's system. These settings should be checked to make sure the customer's desired or required retention periods are being met. Addition of cameras, unaccounted for motion, or other factors may result in these times not being met, leaving customers without archived video. In some cases, this can leave them liable, or in violation of legal regulations.

At a minimum, for typical customers, this should be done during regular maintenance about twice per year. This ensures that they're getting the retention period they paid for and expect. Certain customers with more stringent requirements, such as municipalities and especially casinos, may check their storage more often, as there is more risk of legal liability or violation of regulations.

Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox
Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox

Patches and Updates

Most service contracts also include upgrading the system to the most current client and sever software versions. This is normally not done immediately when they are released, but instead on a scheduled basis, during the next maintenance visit. Some users prefer not to upgrade unless necessary, following the old adage, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." In these cases, new versions are only applied if a desired feature not previously present is not supported, or camera models which the customer wants to use are added.

Wireless Maintenance

In wireless systems, there are a few tasks which should be performed regularly. First, any outdoor cable connections should be checked for damage, wear, or rust, and reterminated and taped if necessary. Second, antenna alignment should be checked, and corrected if necessary. Drift over time can potentially greatly reduce throughput in wireless systems, so this is key.

Refresher Training

One often overlooked task that may be included is refresher training for operators and maintenance staff. This may be essential, depending on the organization. Companies with frequent turnover or shift changes, for example if a guard service operates the surveillance system, may especially want to include this to give new staff a formal training session. Even long-term users may benefit from a refresher course, or even simply a Q&A with the integrator, to discuss challenges or different ways of performing tasks.

Service Contract Cost

Given the various services which may or may not be performed, either based on preference or necessity, service contract prices can vary widely. VMS software maintenance agreements may especially cause variance if these upgrades are included in the contract. Installation of a large quantity of outdoor cameras and/or wireless APs will also add cost, if bucket trucks or lifts are required. All factors considered, however, industry standard annual pricing is between 8 to 12% of the system's initial installed cost (e.g., if the system cost $100,000 to install, annual service costs would likely be in the $10,000 range.

Comments : PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Winter 2019 IP Networking Course on Dec 18, 2018
[Tomorrow, Thursday Dec. 20th is the last day to save $50] This is the only networking course designed specifically for video surveillance...
The 2019 Video Surveillance Industry Guide on Dec 10, 2018
The 300 page, 2019 Video Surveillance Industry Guide, covers the key events and the future of the video surveillance market, is now available,...
Multi-Factor Access Control Authentication Guide on Dec 10, 2018
Can a stranger use your credentials? One of the oldest problems facing access control is making credentials as easy to use as keys, but restricting...
HID Product Configurator Examined on Nov 26, 2018
HID is widely used. However, figuring out all the different configurations of features for a final credential or reader part number can be a real...
Axis Bad Marketing - Panoramic Commercial on Nov 23, 2018
Axis is bad at marketing. Recall last month - Axis: "No One Wants To Buy A Camera" and, more generally their 2018 production introductions. But...
French Government Threatens School with $1.7M Fine For “Excessive Video Surveillance” on Nov 14, 2018
The French government has notified a high-profile Paris coding academy that it risks a fine of up to 1.5 million euros (about $1.7m) if it...
Ubiquiti Protect Video Surveillance Profile on Nov 07, 2018
Ubiquiti has now been in the video surveillance market for 7 years (see our first coverage back in 2011). In that time, the company's revenue has...
Directory Of Video Doorbells on Nov 06, 2018
Video doorbells are one of the fastest growing categories in video surveillance, especially among residences. The optimal placement of these...
HID: Stop Selling Cracked 125 kHz Credentials on Nov 05, 2018
HID should stop selling cracked 125 kHz access control credentials, that have been long cracked and can easily be copied by cheap cloners sold on...
Solar-Powered, Smart-Phone-Based Access Kit (VIZPin) Examined on Nov 02, 2018
Cloud-based access control company VIZPin is releasing a solar-powered and smart phone based access control system for gates and other remote...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Dahua USA Sales Team Cuts - 'Strategic Right Sizing' on Dec 18, 2018
Dahua USA finishes a tumultuous year in which it acquired the Flir SMB business, was subject to the US government ban, terminated and restructured...
This Brooklyn Storefont Sells Millions In Uniview And Hikvision on Dec 18, 2018
Looking at their Brooklyn headquarters for this "CCTV Manufacturer", it is not much: Inside, it is not better: However, this company is one...
ACRE-Acquired Open Options Access Company Profile on Dec 17, 2018
Who is the company ACRE is acquiring? In this note, we examine Open Options line for best customer fit, key features, pricing, and main...
Open Options Acquired By ACRE on Dec 17, 2018
ACRE is doing deals again. A year after they sold Mercury, they are buying another access control company - Open Options. In this note, we...
8MP / 4K Fixed Lens Camera Shootout - Dahua, Hikvision, TVT, Uniview on Dec 17, 2018
8MP / 4K fixed lens models are now common in lower cost lines, with nearly every Chinese brand and their OEMs now offering multiple options. To...
Network Cable Shootout - Belden, Commscope, Hikvision, Honeywell, NavePoint CCA, Windy City Wire on Dec 17, 2018
Every IP camera install needs UTP cabling. But how much of a difference is there between dirt cheap generic cables found online and the bigger,...
Hikvision Government Parent Holds Communist Party Congress on Dec 17, 2018
The Communist Party committee of Hikvision’s government parent, CETHIK, held a Party Congress earlier this month where senior executives, including...
Imperial Capital Security Investor Conference 2018 Review - ADT, Resideo, Alarm.com, Arlo, Eagle Eye, ACRE, More on Dec 14, 2018
Imperial Capital Security Investor Conference is an event matching industry executives with financiers that frequently leads to future funding...
Cisco Meraki New Cameras and AI Analytics on Dec 14, 2018
Meraki has released their second generation of video surveillance with 3 new cameras, AI-based video analytics, and 2 cloud-based storage...
Foolish Strategy: OEMing Facial Recognition on Dec 13, 2018
Almost as 'hot' as face recognition marketing right now is OEMing facial recognition. Last year, they were a who's who of company's with...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact