When choosing to invest in radar surveillance technology for your critical infrastructure sites, it is common to compare several solutions prior to selecting the best one for your site. Of course, one of the major factors to consider is all of the costs that go into a radar deployment. While some radar products and providers seem to be cheaper at first glance, it’s important to understand all associated or hidden costs that could impact budgets prior to making an investment.
The list below not only can help you foresee hidden costs, it can also help you to know questions to ask as you move forward evaluating radar options:
Many manufacturers offer pilots, proof-of-concept (POC) testing, or extended demonstrations of their solutions at customer sites to help customers decide if the manufacturer’s product is a good fit. Deciding if a product is a good fit shouldn’t come with a hefty price tag. After all, if the product doesn’t work the way you anticipated, you don’t want to have already invested a chunk of your budget in a system you don’t want. Be sure to understand what costs are associated with a pilot prior to agreeing.
- Infrastructure/ Hardware
One hidden cost that applies to almost all radar deployments is the infrastructure for mounting, powering, and networking the radar. Many times, it is possible to use existing infrastructure for a deployment. But what about times when a new pole or other structure must be put in place for the radar to provide optimal coverage? The cost of putting a pole in the ground, installing conduit, and running power and Ethernet or fiber can be very costly – often dwarfing the cost of the radar itself. And the more radar units being deployed, the greater the overall project cost is going to be. Infrastructure costs can sneak up on your quickly, so take that into consideration when thinking through your use of radar from the different vendors.
- Integration of Third-Party Software
Integrating with third-party software such as a VMS, PSIM, ACS, and others usually come at extra costs for most providers. Being able to integrate radar data into another software platform (or vice versa) can be time-consuming and costly – but there are great benefits to having all of your software and data integrated into one system. Ask the radar providers you are considering what the integration and software licensing costs will be to have the data integrated together to function how you would find it most valuable for your application.
- Classification Capabilities
The ability of a radar to detect and track targets is phenomenal. But shouldn’t a system be capable of going beyond just detection and tracking – to provide you with real-time intelligence on targets? This is where radar target classification is so important, as it’s a state-of-the-art capability that uses target characteristics (being collected in real time) to help reduce false and nuisance alarm rates. But for many radar providers, classification capabilities only come as an added expense. If you want to be able to differentiate among people, animals, vehicles, aircrafts, drones, etc., you should be prepared for additional costs unless your radar vendor of choice provides target classification as an out-of-the-box feature. So unless you want to get hit with the costs of custom development to get classification, be sure to ask what is considered custom and what is already included in the system prior to committing to a radar offering.
- Integration with Responsive and Deterrent Systems
Integrating multiple “layers of security” with a radar, such as cameras, lights, or audio capability, is a great way to bring real-time responsive and deterrent capabilities to your security operations. In essence, the radar provides long-range detection and tracking information, which can then be used to instigate these other systems to respond to or deter intruders. Traditionally, integration with these other systems is an added expense for radar and other product providers. If you’re desiring a layered security approach, you need to understand the cost of integrating and configuring these other systems with radar to make sure everything functions as one solution for the best possible security of your sites.
Support and warranties are additional costs when implementing advanced systems like radar, but they tend to be worth the investment. It’s always important to understand the long-term cost associated with your system. Some support and/or warranty agreements are required, while others are not. Regardless, make sure the long-term costs are clear prior to making a purchasing decision.
- Licensing Fees
Licensing fees are another cost often associated with radar systems – whether it’s a software license for the sensor technology, a license for third-party camera, or software integrations, etc. Sometimes licensing fees are one-time costs, while others must be renewed annually for software updates and other features. Does the vendor charge these ongoing fees, which drive up total cost of ownership, and what are those fees?
So bear in mind that the initial cost estimate for a radar system can be just the tip of the iceberg for the total cost of a functioning system. Don’t be caught off-guard by hidden costs. Know what the real, total investment will be. When reviewing cost estimates and quotes, always ask to make sure that all costs are accounted for upfront – avoid surprises that you might only learn about during or after installation. We hope the above list will help you to know the right questions to ask and understand the total cost of investment when making a decision about purchasing a radar that’s right for your sites and applications.