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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

How Cheap are CCTVs?

That is the fashion for this month with people like local council and schools clamouring to install a CCTV system to eliminate crime; never mind if the people watching the screens will also be playing games on their handphones or chatting online - the crooks will not know that and the sign "Area Under CCTV Protection" will deter most petty criminals.

I read that a council will be spending RM3.9m for a system with 34 cameras. Doing a rough calculation, the cost of each camera plus all related equipment comes to an average of RM114,706.

Now that looks like a camera that is encrusted with precious stones and gold-plated as gold has reached its all-time high.

So I decided to take a look at CCTV systems and you can learn a lot from this site.

For really cheap solutions, one can purchase a 4-camera wireless set-up for less than RM1000 so that means each camera integrated into the system comes at RM250.

Now one cannot imagine that such a system would be suitable for outdoors and the reliability would also be suspect but nowadays, such technology is becoming cheaper and even industrial high quality systems do not cost an arm and a leg.

So what do you think a quality system should cost?
TEN Times the home system?
How about FIFTY Times?

This site has a price indication of the products used to set up a CCTV system so anyone can develop a reasonable estimate.

That looks reasonable.
50 x RM250 = RM12,500 for each camera as part of the integrated system.

So it looks like we are paying 10 times more than what would be obtained with a proper tender system. Somehow it looks similar to the horrors reported in the Auditor-General's annual reports.

In the haste to award such generous contracts I wonder if anyone has pondered of the benefits of all these systems being able to communicate with each other without other special equipment?

Graphics: Thanks to http://www.boschsecurity.us/index.html

1 comment:

yellowkingdom said...

Below is the comment I received from a friend with more than 20 years experience in installing CCTVs with a multi-naitonal firm in KL. I hope it will shed light on the subject matter. (Posted unedited)

The cost for a CCTV system can varies from RM100 to
RM50K for a one camera system setup. I understand the
writer's concern as why do they need to pay so much
when you can get it at a fraction of the price on the
open market.

First of all you need to understand the application,
quality and hidden cost in setting up the system
(nothing illegal).

In a home setup, you could purchase a cheap 4 camera
system (wired or wireless) ranging from RM400 to
RM600. To install it you will require to provide
power supply for the entire wired or wireless camera.
As for the wired camera system, you will need to lay
coaxial cable for the video signal from each camera to
the destination point which is the quad unit and a
video monitor. If you need to do recording, you will
need to replaced the quad unit with a basic 4 input
stand alone DVR (Digital Video Recorder). This will
add up your cost to about 1K for the monitor and DVR.
As for the coaxial cable and the power, it depends on
the length you need to lay. The picture quality coming
out from these systems is acceptable for home
application as the camera does not have the resolution
to look at finer details.

As for outdoor application, you will need to look in
details of the equipment used and implementation. It
looks simple but if you really study it, it will
involve a lot work and additional hardware. For an
example, you will need to erect a pole to install the
camera. The camera used for this setup will normally
cost from RM10K to RM20K. The reason behind is.

i) This camera needs to be waterproof for used in an
outdoor environment.

ii) You will need the pan and tilt feature in order to
change the view of the camera.

iii) It will come with a zoon lens ranging from 10 to
26 times.

iv) It have a built in feature where you can program
it to "tour" by itself

v) And the electronic to control the features are
built in the unit.

And the cost does not stop there. You will need.

i) To install a camera pole which will cost about 3K
to 5K.

ii) Lighting arrester on the pole which will cost
about 3K.

iii) Power to get the camera up and running. The cost
varies due to the distant of power source to the pole
and they have to use armed cable. Let's say the cost
may come out to 2K to 8K.

iv) Next step is how to send the signal back to base
(control centre). There are 2 common options
available. Firstly by fiber connection and by
wireless. Fiber option is more costly than wireless as
there are a lot work involve in the implementation.
The equipment cost will range from 10K onwards for one

v) Crane/skylift services for installation and
servicing the camera at the pole. Cost 500 per day ( 8
hours max.). To install a system plus testing on the
pole will need about 3 to 5 days. During warranty
should the camera fails, the cost will be beared by
the supplier.

And the list goes on. such as equipments at the
control centre. DVRs, monitors, application software,
data storage and maintenance cost to upkeep the

At the end of the day CCTV setup can dirt cheap to
very expensive and it all depends what you want out of

I think I will stop here for now.