As anyone shopping around for a video management system (VMS) can tell you, the options to consider can seem endless. Most major video surveillance vendors - and dozens of smaller firms - offer systems with features ranging from the simplest of camera/DVR selection to full-scale integration with access control, intrusion and building management systems as well a host of other niche functions that allow the VMS solution to function as a command-and-control application. Even at the most basic levels, VMSs have seen advancements in several areas that have greatly improved their functionality, storage and user experience.
Despite the explosive growth of the IP camera market over the past few years, end-users with DVRs and analog cameras still represent a significant majority of the market. While undoubtedly interested in the high-resolution images offered by megapixel cameras, these users need the ability to view, control and manage recorded video from existing DVRs and analog cameras as well as NVRs and IP cameras - without requiring separate systems for each. These users also need a robust and reliable platform that can maximize their existing analog infrastructure while remaining a viable technology many years into the future.
These requirements have borne new VMS solutions that bring together recorded video from DVRs and NVRs and associated analog and IP video streams into one cohesive user interface. This eliminates the multiple systems, screens, monitors and workstations that many users are forced to toggle between in order to navigate within the different environments.
Precious time can be lost when a user needs to switch between multiple screens to find the cause of a motion alarm. A unified interface offers a more comprehensive picture of the overall surveillance landscape as well as reduced costs in training, maintenance and software updates.
Another significant benefit of unifying these different environments is the ability to perform forensic searches using new streaming-based technology. This approach has many advantages over older, clip-based technologies, including dramatically faster search results using metadata and more immediate access to a range of cameras, DVRs and NVRs during a forensic investigation.
Using streaming technology, systems can build an ongoing database of the video metadata, which enables motion-based searches for vehicles, people, objects or other anomalous events. This provides huge benefits over clip-based technologies that rely on a more traditional frame-by-frame review of the video.
Consider the following example: A security officer is investigating a tripwire alarm triggered at 10:30 a.m. In order to provide context to the incident, a clip-based system prepares a clip with 30 seconds on either side of the alarm for download - the only problem is that the perpetrator tripped the alarm and then ducked behind a tree for the next 40 seconds. In this scenario, the only way to properly determine the outcome of the incident would be to continually download clips until the clip with the right information is located. Until the operator has searched exhaustively and then located the incident on video, the security department can never be certain that enough clips have been downloaded to make a conclusive determination. And, depending on your network speed, each video clip can take an average of one minute to download for review.
Using a streaming-based approach, the VMS event management system can take the user instantly to the camera in question, where the user can simultaneously watch live and recorded video, making it possible to instantly rewind an image and switch back and forth from live and recorded video.
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