VMS for city surveillance: What's required

VMS for city surveillance: What's required

In order to keep cities safe, operators and law enforcement officials rely on video surveillance to detect and deal with theft, assaults, gang violence, drug dealing, and other criminal activities. Since the number of cameras and sensors deployed throughout the city can be overwhelmingly large, a good video management software (VMS) solution is needed to support these edge devices as well as present the data generated in a way that’s meaningful and understandable to operators.

That said, below is a list of features that are needed for the VMS to work effectively in city surveillance.


When deploying a city surveillance project, chances are the user will add more cameras over time. Scalability, therefore, is important. “Systems have to be scalable to a large amount of cameras and devices. Scaling should be easy, so new cameras and servers should be added efficiently and easily,” said Andreas Conrad, Head of Product Management and Marketing at SeeTec.


Since VMS manages not just video but also data from access control, intrusion alarms, and other systems across different vendors and brands, it must enable interoperability between these devices. That makes an open platform critical. “Open platform is definitely the preference for a lot of end users because they can go shopping for the best products and get exactly what they want from wherever they want to get it,” said Mark Ross, Director of Cathexis.

It is also important to note that the VMS should be flexible enough to work with existing systems. “Most cities will have some kind of legacy edge devices or wiring infrastructure in place. To allow cities to continue to capitalize on their ROI for what they already paid for these legacy systems, integrators will always be asked to ‘work with as much of what is already in place’. The VMS system must be flexible and open enough to accommodate these expectations,” said Pervez Siddiqui, Director of Strategic Markets at Genetec.


Keeping the user interface simple so that even operators lacking IT skills can learn the software in a short time is important. “The way we think about this is simple: the main client applications, for example desktop, web, and mobile – should be instantly usable the first time a user sees the software,” said Tony Luce, Director of Marketing and Business Development at Network Optix. “Advanced features should be reserved for admins, and standard user features should really focus on three things: viewing video streams, responding to system notifications, and finding the video they are searching for quickly.”


With the camera count surpassing thousands, it’s difficult for operators to constantly monitor that many video feeds. This is where intelligence comes in. “With systems becoming larger and larger it is inevitable to find ways to detect relevant events beyond classical staff-based watching of video streams,” said Conrad. “The integration of video intelligence plays a major role here. Here we see a trend of vertical analytics arising. So a VMS should not only provide built-in or static analytics functionalities, but provide an interface to interact with new and additional types of analytics.”

Reliability and Other Features

A failover mechanism is needed so if the main recording device fails, the VMS will prompt another device to take over. “Continuous live recording must be sustained no matter what type of interruption or failure occurs,” said Jan van Rosenstil, Product Manager for VMS at Bosch Security Systems. “If the video recording manager fails, then cameras record independently. If the primary storage fails, then secondary storage starts. If the network is down for IP camera, then the SD card saves recording.”

Maintainability and updating of the system is another important feature. “The VMS should allow operators to apply updates across the entirety of the system,” said Luce. The company’s one-click system-wide update technology applies updates to all devices in the system with just one click, thus sparing integrators the effort to go to each site individually to do the update.

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