Many companies worry about the cost of remote video surveillance (CCTV) and alarm monitoring, so we asked a monitoring expert to take a look at the myths surrounding these services and provide some hard facts that might make you look at this in a different light.
Demystifying the expense of CCTV monitoring
Chris has many years of CCTV monitoring experience gained in the retail and logistics sectors, and he provided some much needed insight into the costs and how much you should expect to spend.
In this guest blog, Chris will look at:
- What is CCTV monitoring?
- How does CCTV monitoring work?
- How much does CCTV monitoring cost?
CCTV monitoring is used as a cost-effective alternative to a member of staff on site, such as manned guarding from a security guard service. Let’s compare the myths with the facts around CCTV monitoring.
What is CCTV monitoring?
“CCTV monitoring is just paying for a security guard to sit at home watching your CCTV instead of having them on site, which makes it more expensive because you can’t get them to do anything else.”
This is easily the main myth I hear around CCTV monitoring and when remote CCTV access first came out, it may certainly have been the case! But let’s compare this to what a modern CCTV monitoring solution currently provides;
CCTV monitoring is used by a Security Operations Centre (SOC) to conduct a range of activities, including;
- Responding to alarms generated by the cameras on premises
- Responding to alarms generated by other systems, such as fire doors and intruder alarms, to visually verify what has happened
- Running scheduled “remote guard tours”, which is a virtual version of a security guard patrol
- Conducting health and safety checks, such as making sure a fire door isn’t obstructed or that dangerous equipment hasn’t been left accessible to unauthorised members of staff.
All these activities are either programmed on a schedule or are driven by an alarm, therefore you’re only paying for when an alarm is actually activated, making it a very productive and cost-effective solution.
How does CCTV monitoring work?
"Very similar to the previous point, the main myth around CCTV Monitoring is centred around “a security guard sitting and watching a huge bank of screens, like this;
And whilst you’ll see a video wall (the big screen in the background) in most Security Operations Centre’s – it’s more of a broad overview unit as opposed to a functional unit".
Modern CCTV Monitoring is 100% driven by schedules and alarms.
Alarms can be generated through a range of devices and analytics that really broaden the use of CCTV;
- Traditional alarms, such as intruder / panic / fire
- Environmental alarms, such as refrigeration / flood / carbon monoxide
- Basic CCTV analytics, such as motion detection / line crossing
- Advanced CCTV analytics, such as loitering / tailgating / queue / object removal / unattended baggage
There are also specific types of cameras that drive alarms that sit outside this list, such as thermal, people counting and facial recognition.
You can also define schedules, where a Security Operations Centre will check single or a series of cameras at a pre-defined frequency, looking for anything out of the ordinary, such as vandalism, doors left open, equipment or stock left in wrong locations.
Overall, this makes CCTV Monitoring a very diverse service that can be used in scenarios outside of security.
How much does CCTV monitoring cost?
“CCTV Monitoring is very expensive – I may as well pay for a security guard to be on site, at least they are there already to respond to any alarms!”
CCTV Monitoring is a highly cost-effective alternative to static guarding, particularly when paired up with a keyholding & alarm response service.
Let’s have a look at some of the costs associated with CCTV Monitoring and compare them to traditional static/manned guarding;
Depending on your provider and the sector you operate in, manned guarding can cost anywhere between £11 - £15 an hour, with most companies requiring you to have a minimum of eight hour shifts before committing a member of staff. This would cost you from £88/day for an eight hour shift, or £264 for the entire 24-hour day.
These costs mount up quite quickly, let’s look at some scenarios;
- One Security guard on duty overnight, eight hour shifts, seven days a week - £32,032 per year minimum
- One Security guard on duty for evenings and weekends, eight hour shifts Monday to Friday and 24 hours a day on Saturday and Sunday - £50,336 per year minimum
- One Security guard on duty covering 24 hours a day, seven days a week - £96,096 per year minimum.
Quite expensive, right? Let’s compare this to CCTV monitoring;
Your monitoring provider may offer several different options when it comes to CCTV Monitoring, but the two main routes are visually verified or camera activated. There’s also the option for scheduled activities, such as guard tours.
Visually verified CCTV monitoring
The entry level option for CCTV Monitoring is visually verified – all the activity is driven by an external device, such as an intruder alarm, meaning the activation counts are quite low.
Depending on the size of your system, this can cost anywhere from £250 - £600 per year.
Camera activated CCTV monitoring
The next level of CCTV monitoring is camera activated – the activity is now driven by the analytics on each camera, which can be as basic as line crossing, or in the more advanced range with loitering or unattended baggage. A few additional factors come in to play when pricing this – size of system, type of analytics used and volume of activations.
Depending on your setup, this can range from £600 to £3,000 per year
Bespoke monitoring activity
The top level of CCTV monitoring - we’ve already covered a few of these already, such as guard tours, but it can be used to blend several services together, such as camera activated CCTV monitoring with a guard tour every eight hours to check all the external doors, plus remote audio challenge when a risk is identified.
Sounds very expensive right? Wrong.
- Your standard camera activated ranges from £600 - £3,000 per year
- Each Guard Tour costs £2 per six cameras. Based on a building with ten external doors and £4 per Guard Tour, this would cost £4,380 per year
- Audio Challenge depends on how many “true” activations a site will have, but this generally ranges from £200 - £800 per year
All in, this would cost a customer between £5,180 and £8,180 per year, for 24/7 coverage. When comparing this to the manned guard pricing, it’s up to £90,916 per year cheaper to have CCTV Monitoring! That’s a 95% cost reduction!
CCTV monitoring wrap-up
The perception of CCTV monitoring has always been that of a cost-prohibitive service. However, in recent years it has become more accessible and is now certainly a strong alternative to traditional manned guarding.
Pairing this up with a Keyholding and Alarm Response Provider can certainly make it the modern alternative to the traditional manned guarding model, which remains unchanged since the 1800s.