How to Upgrade Your Security Without Spending a Fortune

By Mike Dunn

Keeping costs down is a major concern for every security team. Luckily, with recent technology developments, you don’t need to replace your entire security system to improve it. In fact, integrating smaller technology add-ons is a more effective way to boost your security, while controlling the costs.

Integrating Video Analytics into an Older Camera System

Video analytics are a great way to make your security better and more efficient. And believe it or not, in many cases the video analytics now on the market will work with the camera system you currently have. Even if you have an analog or a hybrid DVR, there are still many ways to add newer technologies to it. You can add internet protocol (IP) encoders to your analog cameras and get the analog stream needed for modern analytics today. For example, let’s say you have a camera with a great shot of your store’s register area. You can encode just that analog camera and add an analytic for measuring line queuing times. This can give you a better understanding of your store without having to add a server or additional cameras.

Increasing Security Coverage with Add-On Devices

Let’s say you have a camera system that works well, but you don’t have coverage in an area where you now need it. It is an area you were not concerned about before, but now you really need help. So, what do you do? You can add a camera or speaker in that one particular spot without overhauling the entire system. If it is only for an event or temporary need, you can consider adding a mobile surveillance equipment on a rented or leased basis. You can then choose to connect the new equipment into your existing system, or you can choose to keep it completely separate.

Loading Analytics “On the Edge”

If you have a newer camera system, adding video analytics can be a breeze. This can dramatically improve your alarm notification, pattern or traffic flow analysis, video searching or even remote monitoring. Typically, you can add video analytics to a DVR or an existing server. For some advanced analytics a dedicated server may be needed. But in the best-case scenarios, you can actually load the analytics “on the edge,” meaning load the analytics directly onto the camera with no other equipment needed. This is similar to adding an app to your smartphone. Though IP cameras were first designed primarily for recording video, many of them can now do so much more than just provide high quality footage. They have enough processing power to run both the video and analytics on board without having to buy additional hardware. This is a great way to save on costs while still upgrading your security system. And because IP devices are connected to your network, they can all easily talk to each other and be integrated in one system, making installation and management much simpler.

Adding Remote Monitoring

Most monitoring centers can handle feeds from older DVRs and video management systems (VMS). Even a really antiquated closed-off system or an old analog system can easily be connected to a remote monitoring center with video encoders. Adding these devices will take analog signal and convert it to a digital video feed so you can bring your entire system up on the network. Once it is there, you will have multiple options on how to get your video feed to a remote monitoring center wherever it may be located. This in itself can add security to your locations 24/7. To reduce false alarms with your monitoring center, you can integrate video analytics into your security system in the various ways mentioned earlier.

If you have existing speakers or audio devices, you can most likely use them as well. Just like with video encoders and decoders, there are audio encoders and decoders. By adding these small devices, your remote monitoring center can have the ability to directly address potential intruders at your locations in real time, and prevent incidents without involving the police or on-site security. This is called a voice-down: discouraging and chasing off unwanted visitors just by using audio announcements. If you don’t have a speaker at a location, you can keep your analog camera and just add an IP speaker so you can communicate through your existing system in a new way.

Reducing Costs Without Losing Coverage

Sometimes a brand new system is absolutely needed. Equipment ages, maintenance problems become more frequent, and costs start to go up to just keep the system running. Then there are the new advances in technology that make systems obsolete by offering answers to security problems that couldn’t be solved just a few years ago. When this is the case, and it’s time to get a whole new system, it’s best to pick one that uses open, non-proprietary technology that will allow for easy additions and upgrades in the future. Because one day, even that shiny new system will become outdated, but open architecture can prolong its usefulness and save you money long-term.

Fortunately, in most cases, you don’t actually have to completely rip-out and replace everything you have. Upgrading parts of your system can be an effective way to improve it gradually. Replacing the DVR with a hybrid NVR, or encoding an analog camera, or adding IP equipment are all feasible and cost effective ways to get more mileage out of the system you have.


Mike Dunn is the CTO of Prosegur USA, the American subsidiary of one of the largest security companies in the world. In his role, he leads the research, testing and deployment of new security solutions for retail, gaming, government, banking, transportation and other industries. Mike is a big believer in open platform approach to technology, and places great emphasis on partnering with best-in-class solution providers.

He has 15 years of industry experience, encompassing computer technology, networking, IP video and access control. Prior to joining Prosegur USA, Mike was vice president of business development at BSI, which was acquired by Prosegur. He also held previous positions with Axis and Honeywell.