How to Manage Surveillance Video

How to Manage Surveillance Video

Video management software helps with efficient monitoring, transmission and storage of IP surveillance video. Here's how to evaluate, purchase and implement VMS.

DVR vendors still don't support the breadth of cameras that VMS-based systems do, Honovich says. They might support two to five manufacturers versus leading VMS vendors, which support up to 50. "The DVR folks have a ways to go to catch up," he says. At the same time, over the next 18 months, the distinction between these manufacturers will largely disappear, Honovich says. He sees DVR companies broadening their IP camera support and selling software-only systems, either independently or through acquisitions, while VMS vendors will offer DVR/NVR appliances to appeal to organizations with smaller camera deployments.

Already, he says, hybrid DVR vendors offer enterprise-level functionality, such as centralized management and third-party system support that, in some cases, is superior to VMS vendors, especially in the area of access control. "IP players will say they're more open, but I'd ask them to prove that," he says.

VMS Dos and Don'ts

DO investigate the level of support for third-party systems. VMS systems can integrate with a wide range of third-party systems, including access control, video analytics, building automation and alarm management systems. Companies should investigate not just whether the VMS integrates with the systems it needs, but also the level of integration, which varies widely, says Brian Carle, product manager at Salient Systems, in a blog entry on the IP Video Market portal.

At a basic level, the VMS can receive and act on alarm events from the third-party system, he says. For example, when a person enters a building, an access control system could trigger the video management system to verify that the image of the person captured from video matches the ID card/system. At a more sophisticated level, he says, you'd be able to configure the third-party system through the VMS interface.

DON'T get stuck on a particular vendor until you know which cameras they support. Whereas DVRs support almost any analog camera, such is not the case with IP video software, which needs specific drivers for each camera type. "Some support only one brand, while others support 500," Honovich says. "You can decide you really want to use a particular IP camera but then realize it's only supported by five software vendors in the market."

DON'T forget user authentication and authorization. A big benefit of VMS systems is that you can centrally manage an unlimited number of devices. But you also need to consider how you're going to centrally manage the users accessing the system, especially if they're geographically dispersed. One way is to ensure the system integrates with the directory services you're already using, such as Microsoft Active Directory Support. "If you're already using that for PCs, you can integrate your video surveillance system with that so they're both using the same user name and password," Honovich says. Plus, you can keep logs of video-watching behavior in a database.

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