How to design a video surveillance solution

Seven fundamental questions you should be asking as you design for surveillance

  • Local Viewing directly from the DVR, NVR or servers is ideal for monitoring small facilities on site. This lets the video management system double as a viewing station, saving you the cost of setting up or using a PC. This approach is most common in retailers, banks and small businesses.

  • Remote PC Viewing is the most common way of viewing surveillance video. In this approach, standard PCs are used to view live and recorded video.  Either a proprietary application is installed on the PC or a web browser is used. Most remote PC viewing is done with an installed application as it provides the greatest functionality. However, as web applications mature, more providers are offering powerful web viewing. The advantage of watching surveillance video using a web browser is that you do not have to install nor worry about upgrading a client.

  • Mobile Viewing allows security operators in the field to immediately check surveillance video. As responders and roving guards are common in security, mobile viewing has great potential. Though mobile clients have been available for at least 5 years, they have never become mainstream due to implementation challenges with PDAs/phones. Renewed interest and optimism has emerged with the introduction of the Apple iPhone. Learn more about how Apple's iPhone is impacting mobile viewing.

  • Video Wall Viewing is ideal for large security operation centers that have hundreds or thousands of cameras under their jurisdiction.  Video walls provide very large screens so that a group of people can simultaneously watch.  This is especially critical when dealing with emergencies.  Video walls generally have abilities to switch between feeds and to automatically display feeds from locations where alarms have been triggered.

7. Integrating Video with Other Systems

Many organizations use surveillance video by itself, simply pulling up the video management systems' client application to watch applications.  However, for larger organizations and those with more significant security concerns, this is an inefficient and poor manner to perform security operations.  Instead, these organizations prefer an approach similar to the military's common operational picture (COP) where numerous security systems all display on a singular interface.  Three ways exist to deliver such integration with video surveillance:

  • Access Control as Hub: Most organizations have electronic/IP access control systems. These systems have been designed for many years to integrate with other security systems such as intrusion detection and video surveillance. This is the most way to integrate video surveillance and relatively inexpensive ($10,000 - $50,000 USD). However, access control systems are often limited in the number and depth of integration they support.

  • PSIM as Hub: In the last few years, manufacturers now provide specialized applications whose sole purpose is to aggregate information from security systems (like video surveillance) and provide the most relevant information and optimal response policies. These applications tend to be far more expensive (($100,000 - $1,000,000 USD) yet support a far wider range of security manufacturers and offer more sophisticated features.

  • Video Managemenet System as Hub: Increasingly, video management systems are adding in support for other security systems and security management features. If you only need limited integration, your existing video management system may provide an inexpensive (yet limited) solution.

Learn more about options for integrating video with other systems.


If you feel comfortable with the key decisions to be made, you may want to start examining what companies provide the best products for your need.

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