Video Management Software Unifies Surveillance

Video Management Software Unifies Surveillance

As user needs for advanced video surveillance solutions increase, the market for video management software is gaining traction. A&S takes a look at today's technology developments, challenges and future trends.

Despite the global economic crisis, the video management software (VMS) market shows steady growth. IMS Research estimated the global VMS market for open and proprietary solutions was worth US$300 million in 2008.

"DVR/analog camera solutions continue to be cheaper than IP solutions," said Alastair Hayfield, Research Manager, Video Surveillance and VCA Group, IMS Research. "In verticals that are price sensitive (retail, for example), some users may choose to stick with DVRs and analog cameras for price reasons, particularly if the deployment and project is small. This may limit the penetration of VMS solutions into particular verticals and applications."

Francis Lachance, Product Manager at Genetec, predicted the global market would grow at a double-digit rate. EMEA and the Americas will each exceed $100 million, with Asia will account for 15 percent market share.

Other research predicts the network video surveillance market will exceed $5 billion by 2013. VMS will be a significant segment, with Asia to grow the most, said Justin Schorn, VP of Product Development at Aimetis.

Demand for video analytics, biometrics and perimeter control is increasing for emerging markets. "About 50 percent of large projects are requiring integration between video surveillance, access control and alarms management," said David Ella, CTO at G4S Technology. Promising applications include critical infrastructure, transportation, large retail, banks, health care and education.

Technology Developments
Through customizable SDKs, VMS providers can integrate third-party hardware and software. Physical security information management (PSIM) software integrates disparate physical security devices into one intelligent system that delivers real-time situation awareness, situation management, video management and security policy enforcement, said David Fowler, Senior VP of Marketing and Product Development at VidSys.

Integration with third-party systems requires open-platform software that has well-documented SDKs and APIs. "If the partners do not have the expertise for working with the APIs, consultancy services are offered to assist our partners," said Eric Fullerton, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer at Milestone Systems.

Third-party providers may need to add integration modules to their software. A fully documented SDK, sample code and ready-made functional modules must be supplied by VMS companies, said Pertti Woitsch, VP of Marketing at Mirasys.

An ultimate purpose of integration is ease of use. "To facilitate an operator's task, it is important that the data brought from the other systems is displayed in the VMS as if it originally was a part of the application," Lachance said.

"The system should also be able to search in the video archive database — by area of interest or time period — and create a secure export of material evidence to pass on to police or other authorities," Fullerton said.

However, even if a SDK is backward compatible and offers a good set of functionalities, it is always a challenge to integrate two separate systems. "The information is not always perfectly synchronized between the two systems as they each have their own database," Lachance said. A unified system with a single platform and database can prevent such problems.

Video analytics are a trend for VMS. LPR, object recognition, traffic monitoring and face recognition are some popular features, said Aluisio Figueiredo, COO at Intelligent Security Systems. Market research forecasts the LPR market for security and law enforcement will grow 30 percent annually over the next five years.

"We see that video analytics provides an opportunity to further integrate advanced technologies into an all-in-one solution to satisfy the high-profile markets," said Giulio Fedel, Technical Manager at SYAC.

"Analytics increases the value of VMS by enabling more efficient management," Fullerton said. "While seamless integration with video analytics is ideal, it requires overcoming technical challenges."

Loss of intelligent functions can occur when the VMS is not integrated with third-party analytics. "In many cases, the video analytics system does little more than send a notification to the VMS to inform that a significant event has occurred," Schorn said. "The true intelligence that the analytics provide cannot be reached through the VMS."

Intelligent functions, such as cover-, defocus- or contortion-checks, lost and found and speed dome auto tracking features, are in demand, said Gregor Schnitzler, Technical Director at ABUS Security-Center.

Selection Criteria
User friendliness is a universal VMS criterion. "Especially for large projects where the management system is complex, it is essential that the software still remains user-friendly and easy to handle," said Norbert Niggemann, Director for Software Development at Dallmeier electronic.

Apart from knowing the overall system requirements, there are no fixed guidelines for management software. "Users very often make the mistake of choosing the VMS without considering how they will integrate into the alarms and events that are taking place on other existing systems, like access control and intruder alarms," Ella said.

Network bandwidth, server, workstation performance and system's architectural limits determine the suitable hardware for VMS, said Roman Ryltsov, Lead Developer at A&H Software House.

Flexibility, scalability and integration capabilities are required to provide a future-proof solution, said Eli Gorovici, President and CEO at DVTel.

Users should consider if the solution supports third-party integration with access control, fire detection, intrusion and other existing IT installations, Fedel said.

Customers prefer tailored modular and scalable solutions. "The systems should be able to be bridged with technologies from adjacent industries and be cost-effective — they should integrate the benefits of existing installations and allow subsequent expansion," Fedel said.

Management software demands effective integration. "Network-wide visibility and resource control is the key to a strong service delivery environment," Gorovici said.

"Choosing VMS from vendors who can provide focused project-specific developments or have broad range of configuration options is important to system integrators since it is rare in large projects that one customer will have the same operational needs as another," said David Aindow, Business Development Director at Synectic Systems.

"The biggest hindrance for the implementation of new solutions is the economy," said Fullerton. "Other challenges include the lack of universal standards and education in the VMS market."

Other vendors agreed VMS had limited interoperability. "ONVIF and PSIA will shortly give us standards for connecting to network cameras, but the lack of a standard for metadata holds us back," Ella said.

Open standards ensure device compatibility. "When supporting all the network cameras with ONVIF and PSIA protocols, we cover more than 95 percent of the network cameras in the market," said Vincent Chen, Assistant VP of the Product Marketing Division at GeoVision.

Different compression formats pose another challenge. "While H.264 seemed to provide a standard that manufacturers can all follows, there are still many variants of the standard that makes it quite difficult," Ella said.

Rules and Regulations
Each country has different standards, rules and regulations, primarily about privacy. "In Europe, the CENELEC norms (EN 50132- series) state the basic requirements and application guidelines for video surveillance," Woitsch said.

British video monitoring is regulated. "Each country has additional local regulations, such as in the U.K., Home Office and ICO data protection guidelines apply to VMS as with all video surveillance," Woitsch said.

Future Trends
Centralized control will become a trend. "There will be more developments of sophisticated solutions that integrate multiple systems such as video, access control, HVAC and building automation," Hayfield said. He predicted increased adoption of technologies from the IT world, such as cloud computing.

"The industry is developing and we are seeing constant movement in technology and requirements," Ryltsov said. "Over the next few years, the amount of data systems can manage will increase, which can be managed more effectively."

Analysis on the edge will be a trend, as it distributes processor loading across the system. With the requirement for video analytics, higher image resolution will become standard, Chen said.

This means that the communication and support among system designers, networking specialists, integrators, manufacturers and end users are important, Gorovici said.

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