VMS firms put cameras on the go

New technologies allow phones to access VMS systems, even allow cell phones to become security cameras


The big news out of the video management software (VMS) industry at the 2012 ASIS show wasn’t how many new many camera vendors could be supported or what the new GUI map interface was. Instead the most thrilling thing to see on the show floor from the video management companies was how they are embracing the mobile phone revolution.

Video surveillance has long departed from the realm of “closed circuit television”, where if you wanted to watch the video streams, you needed to be in the same room as the monitors, tape recorders and matrix switchers. Today there’s nothing “closed” about video surveillance, and at the ASIS tradeshow, visits to booths of companies like Milestone and Genetec will show you how open the concept of video surveillance has become.

Both firms have historically been known for supporting hundreds and thousands of video surveillance cameras and even technologies like license plate recognition analytics, but what was dramatic at ASIS was their support of the mobile device environment. That support was dramatic at two levels, not only in terms of phones being used for remote access, but also in terms of phones pushing video back to the VMS.

Both firms were allowing phones to become mobile client access points for the video surveillance management systems, giving users on-the-go access. It’s something that many said they expect to see offered very soon from other VMS vendors.

That’s a profound change for the industry. On-the-go for the most part has meant installing a dedicated piece of software on the end-user’s laptop; only recently had that even changed to delivering web access to the VMS via a browser window.

But taking advantage of mobile devices doesn’t mean only using mobile phones for viewing and playing back recorded video. Instead, what you’ll find at ASIS 2012 is that Genetec and Milestone Systems now allow their systems to receive video pushed in real-time from mobile phones. The model is that the end-user, standing on scene with their iPhone or Android, can take advantage of the phone’s video capabilities and make that handheld device a surveillance camera, allowing that video evidence to be captured by the phone’s video sensor and uploaded over the cellular network or over a Wi-Fi network to Milestone’s XProtect or Genetec’s Security Center to be captured and entered into the evidence archive.

At this point, moving video from mobile phones still comes across as bleeding edge, but with so many of today’s security professionals already carrying smartphones, companies like Genetec and Milestone are recognizing that there are millions of would-be surveillance cameras out there, just waiting in pockets, masqueraded as cell phones. And while this may be bleeding edge, it’s further proof that video surveillance isn’t about a “closed circuit” at all.