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When is the right time to relook the investment into your CCTV systems?

This is not a blog post about running, but as most people can relate to something physical, I am going to use running as an analogy;


Roger Bannister was the first human to run a sub 4 minute mile almost 70 years ago on May the 6th 1954 with a time of 3m59.4s. Fifty years later in 2004 Eliud Kipchoge ran a personal best mile of 3m50.4s. In 2022 Kipchoge strung together 26 miles in a row at an average pace of 4m33s. Read on to discover why I am sharing this analogy with you.

Now, I neither profess nor pretend to be a domain specialist in the CCTV arena, but I can tell you that this industry has created a lot of really, really smart hardware and software systems and achieved unprecedented things in the video surveillance space. What’s more, these amazing things have been achieved within the constraints of the limited toolsets, hardware capabilities, network topology and speeds, as well as the development platforms available to them. Frugal and very clever engineers have built super-efficient software at assembly language level to eke the most from what they were given to work with. That generation of technologists can take a bow, you have done yourselves and the industry proud.

The technology game is moving forward at such a rate that it is difficult, even for those at the leading, and sometimes bleeding, edge to keep up with the constant breakthroughs that continually increase the cadence of the technological revolution. This rapid evolution has happened and continues to happen in all areas of the ecosystem – hardware, software and networks – making for a very fluid and dynamic environment in which to operate.

Many of the leading legacy CCTV systems on the market were designed when the technology was still in its infancy, and system designers had limited resources and knowledge to develop a comprehensive solution. As a result, these systems have very complex architectures and often rely on multiple proprietary software applications, hardware components, and protocols that make the system highly complex to configure and maintain. This complexity can lead to additional costs, downtime, and require very specialised technical expertise to operate, maintain and enhance.
Legacy systems are often inflexible and cannot be easily integrated with newer technologies, such as the rapidly exploding AI platforms, Internet of Things (IoT) devices and cloud-based services and hardware platforms. This makes it difficult to keep pace with and leverage technological advancements.
All of this proprietary infrastructure, software and personnel make adapting to technological change and scaling systems to meet the needs of growing organisations even tougher, potentially leading to additional expenses in purchasing and maintaining multiple systems. Additionally stakeholders are presented with the more significant risk of tie-in to one single, or a limited number of vendors which, in an already risk averse and highly competitive environment, is problematic for decision makers.

However, by contrast, modern CCTV systems are agile and modular by design and aim to simplify processes by leveraging pre-existing building blocks, thereby keeping things simple and working with the lowest common denominator.

So, here’s where I left off on my analogy (and you’ll now see why the above was important to read first). Think of Bannister running around a cinder track in canvas shoes bought from a home industry and trying to keep up with Kipchoge running on a tartan track wearing the latest in track shoes that have had billions of dollars of research behind them. You get the picture…. Not exactly a fair race.

Modern CCTV systems can provide numerous benefits to users in terms of simplifying the configuration and maintenance process as well as offering agility and being able to quickly leverage innovations in the industry as they happen.

A modern system often relies on open standards and protocols, making it easier to integrate with other technologies and systems. This means that users can add new cameras or sensors to their system with ease, or benefit from improved functionality and service by integrating or connecting to other cloud-based services.

Additionally, modern systems have no technical debt and leverage the combined years of improvements that the industry has achieved and standardised. A simplified user interface reduces the need for specialised technical expertise, which can save organisations time and money in training and retaining qualified staff.

Furthermore, modern systems are designed to work with the lowest common denominator, meaning that they are designed to work with any camera or sensor that meets the standard requirements – so users can still leverage their investment in their CCTV hardware by bringing new functionality to older equipment and increasing their longevity and improving ROI. This also simplifies the process of adding new cameras and sensors, making it easy for users to expand their systems as their needs grow.

Furthermore, there are a multitude of new and granular opensource and proprietary modules providing new functionality that brings the opportunity to leapfrog competition by being first to market with previously unimagined features.

For many years all manner of scientists and expert coaches believed it was physically impossible for the human body to survive the stresses needed to be able to achieve the magical goal of a sub 2 hour marathon. Each generation of coaches and runners have built on what their predecessors had learnt through trial and error in the areas of training, rest, race preparation, diet and nutrition, clothing and footwear.
Eliud Kipchoge ran the first sub 2 hour marathon on 12th October 2019 with a time of 1h59m40s. Afterwards he said; “It is a great feeling to make history in sport after Sir Roger Bannister [set the first sub-four-minute mile] in 1954. I am the happiest man in the world to be the first human to run under two hours and I can tell people that no human is limited. I expect more people all over the world to run under two hours after today.”

For me the takeaway here is that today’s top athletes are the giants on whose shoulders future generations will stand to achieve their own records.

Similarly, today’s modern CCTV systems stand on the shoulders of the legacy systems that achieved outstanding technical milestones and breakthroughs that we now take for granted.

Finally, something to always bear in mind is that today’s leading-edge solutions will inevitably become tomorrow’s legacy systems, unless they are constantly updated to keep abreast of industry trends.

Our pledge at Refraime, is to keep our constantly evolving and improving platform up-to-date with industry trends and innovations. Hold us to it.