In a recent blog we explored how easy it was to find the green credentials of the major IP camera brands we supply, in an aim to see “how green your IP camera really is”. It’s clear that most manufacturers are continuously looking at ways that they can be “greener” – from the materials they use through to their transportation options, but the end-user can make a difference too.
Recognising the impact your CCTV system can have on the environment is a challenge for everyone, but it’s worth remembering the additional benefit of reducing the energy consumption of your video surveillance system is a potential saving for your organisation.
Listed below are some tips on making your CCTV system more energy-efficient and greener.
Choose durable products
One of the first things you could look at is how durable your IP camera is. If you are deploying a camera outside in potentially harsh weather conditions, you should be using either an outdoor-ready camera or a model that has a weather-resistant casing. If the camera is being used in areas where tampering can be an issue, then the casing should also be vandal-resistant. In these scenarios, we recommend having at least an IP66-rated housing for water ingress and ideally, at least IK08-rated for impact resistance. Using a camera that’s robust enough for the conditions in which it’s being deployed will improve longevity and reliability. In turn, that means less repairs and maintenance resulting in improved sustainability and the total cost of ownership for the camera(s) over time.
Intelligent video analytics
Most modern IP cameras will come with some form of video motion detection (VMD) capabilities, which can be helpful for event-based recording, but the accuracy of basic VMD can vary from one brand to another. Small movements in the camera’s frame can trigger recording, meaning your storage will be filled up fairly quickly with redundant footage. If you’re using Network Attached Storage (NAS) this can soon add up, so if you can reduce unwanted recordings, there’s potential to reduce your video storage and the associated energy consumption.
Greater VMD accuracy can be achieved with more advanced cameras that incorporate video analytics, giving you the means to easily define what events are important to you. It will allow you to set detection lines and configure zones to ensure that only activity in those areas is recorded. In some cameras, analytics support special filters that will only detect objects of a certain size, reducing false alarms caused by small animals walking into frame. Some camera manufacturers such as Bosch and Mobotix put their analytics at the edge, meaning that your camera will process the footage at the point of capture for even greater efficiency.
Do you need built-in IR LEDs?
For people looking to record in areas that have diminished light, cameras with built-in IR LEDs are usually the most popular option to go with. But when you look at this choice from an energy-efficiency standpoint, perhaps other options should be considered. The IR LEDs do consume power and this should be considered as part of the total cost of ownership. In these scenarios if you want to keep energy usage and costs down, we recommend cameras that use low-light technology instead. These cameras have extreme light sensitivity, allowing them to capture what little light there is in a scene and produce full colour images. The levels of noise in these images do vary from one manufacturer to another but we’re seeing huge improvements in this technology as each new generation of cameras is released. It’s also important to note that with IR cameras, you are only provided with black and white images, while low-light cameras offer colour images which are better for identification.
Remote surveillance and monitoring
In some industries, where users are either based off-site or the nature of their job means they need to check on operations at different locations, traveling back and forth to respond to any security alarms can increase an already large carbon footprint. This is where having remote access can prove handy. Most brands provide a free mobile app that will allow you to view your camera feeds on-to-go, without unnecessary travel. For example, Axis has their Companion app and those running Milestone XProtect as part of their surveillance system can use the Milestone Mobile application. Some of the apps can also be integrated with video analytics (manufacturer dependent), letting you setup notifications if cameras pick up any movement. This allows you to verify any suspicious events before deciding to take further action.
Here are a few more things to consider for a greener CCTV system:-
- Use of Power-over-Ethernet – this will allow you to send both power and network connectivity across one cable. Resulting in lower costs, less downtime, easier maintenance and greater installation flexibility.
- Energy efficient cameras – picking cameras that use PoE and have minimal moving parts, e.g. Mobotix, will keep energy costs down and provide you with a longer lasting, more sustainable system.
- Multi-sensor cameras – for monitoring large open areas a PTZ camera is usually the go-to choice, but with extra motors to power, they can be very energy demanding. A multi-senor camera can give you wide area coverage with one stationary unit.
- Avoid built-in heaters – for locations where extreme weather is a factor, avoid cameras that have built-in heaters or blowers. The extra power needed to run these features can be staggering. Instead, look for cameras that have housings which are purpose-built for these conditions such as models from Mobotix.
- Decentralised system – in a decentralised system, recordings are stored at the edge (typically on SD card storage on board the cameras) – there’s no requirement to have centralised storage and this is where the energy savings are made. This approach of reducing the amount of energy consuming servers and storage devices was pioneered by Mobotix. In practical terms, unless your system is small or recordings only need to be retained for short periods, some form of centralised storage is usually needed but if you can keep that storage to a minimum, all the better.
Obviously, not all the suggestions above will be suitable for every installation, but they are definitely worth considering when upgrading or purchasing a new CCTV system. Introducing greener initiatives does not have to be a costly process, in fact by just incorporating some of the tips above and reviewing the major brands’ stance on the environment, you can have a more sustainable, energy-efficient system that not only helps reduce your carbon footprint, but will also cost less to run.