Must-know: How to choose the right combination of VMS and VCA

Must-know: How to choose the right combination of VMS and VCA

As video content analytics (VCA) becomes ubiquitous, end users are faced with more and more options regarding their choice of systems. Should they opt for an open platform or choose a bundled solution? What are the implications of different technologies used in VCA? a&s looks at several issues that can help choose the right system.

End users today can choose between vendors that offer their own VMS and proprietary video analytics or a VMS vendor that integrates third party analytics. “There are credible arguments for either option but the devil is in the details,” explains Dr. Sadiye Guler, Founder and CEO of Massachusetts-based intuVision.

“For systems integrators and users, having a combined VMS and VCA solution - if nothing else - is convenient. On the other hand, having the flexibility to choose the most suitable VCA product for requirements at hand is only possible if a VMS system can integrate with multiple third party VCAs; we all know there is no silver-bullet VCA solution that suits every application,” added Guler.

OPEN PLATFORM ADVANTAGES
An open platform VMS allows for a mix-and-match approach to best answer end-user needs.

“Best of breed approaches offer more flexibility and there are many specialized VCA solutions available. VCA providers often have profound knowledge of vertical applications and offer adaptations of their VCA solutions for larger installations,” said Joacim Tullberg, Product Manager for Video Management Systems at Axis Communications.

“By choosing an independent, open platform VMS that integrates with multiple third-party video analytics, customers have many more options available than one single vendor with their own VMS and VCA could ever have - the open platform VMS even allows video analytics from multiple vendors to be used together, for example, license plate recognition (LPR) and face recognition. Another example: I have seen some customers request smoke or flame detection capabilities,” said Reinier Tuinzing, Strategic Alliances Manager for the Americas at Milestone Systems.

Furthermore as new technologies and algorithms are developed, an open platform allows the end customer to remove one analytics vendor and replace with another that better meets their needs over time and as new innovations come to market. An open platform VMS also enables integration with multiple third-party systems like laser perimeter detection and access control software, along with the video analytics. The opportunity for end users is that they have many vendors with many capabilities to choose from.

When selecting a vendor, the end user must be very specific about what they want to do with the analytics. “For instance, what do you want to do with the LPR? Are you going to connect to the regional motor vehicle database or the national database; will you build your own database for a home owner association, or are you looking to build your own database for a hotel; is this for cars running at speed or in a parking lot; will the cameras be situated on a pole or at bumper level? All the factors will help you to select the right vendor,” added Tuinzing.

Users who buy from two vendors need to review the level and quality of the integration between the two systems. They should also explore the track record of the two vendors working together by looking at reference customers, and verify the companies' support models.

For example, “at Verint, we provide a solution from one of the best VCA suppliers, and at the same time, we take full responsibility over the integration and the pre-/post-sale support, in effect supplying a one-stop shop for our customers,” said Guy Shahmoon, Senior Director of Product Management at Verint Systems.

PROS AND CONS OF CLOSED PLATFORM SOLUTIONS
Most VMS are designed to work with their own VCA and/or third party software, however there are some advantages when the customer uses VCA from the same vendor, such as: deeper integration and a lower total cost of ownership, explained Doron Girmonsky, Head of Technology and Innovation for Security Group at NICE Systems.

When coming from the same vendor, VMS and VCA integration is more profound. More information can be used since the solution has the “internals” of the analytics, such as object parameters (size, directions, etc.), common routes, etc. From a cost perspective, the analytics can run on the same server as the VMS and does not require additional servers. Having less servers is an important cost saving factor, added Girmonsky.

The advantage for a VMS vendor who integrates with third-party VCA is that each developer is specialized in their respective field. However, full integration is not guaranteed, especially when new features and updates are introduced. Having multiple vendors in the solution poses a challenge when identifying the source of problems, stated Maor Mishkin, Product Champion of Video Analytics at DVTel. On the other hand, a potential downside of closed solutions would be that the VMS or VCA could not be switched if either had a problem, added Mishkin.

“Users who buy a solution from one vendor with proprietary VCA must make sure that the analytics solution is comprehensive and supports many types of rules, is easy to install and calibrate (this is a key factor), and provides accurate results. Customers should ensure that the company intends to continue to develop and support analytics as part of their core technology offering,” detailed Shahmoon.

End users should always seek out the combination that works best for their specific application and environment. For example, video analytics designed for perimeter security needs are very different than those that are ideal for the retail environment. When it comes to video analytics, there is no one-size-fits-all solution, so it is important for users to work closely with their integration partners to select a solution that works well for their unique needs. Also, users should feel free to evaluate various systems to ensure their chosen analytics solution is highly reliable, summarized Mishkin.

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