As integration becomes more of a reality instead of a dream, more security providers offer management solution to tie all products together on a system. A&S talks to Asia's surveillance hardware vendors about their shift toward video management software and what challenges they overcame to achieve integration.
The majority of the world's security products are made in Asia, making it a manufacturing hotspot. However, Asian manufacturers are moving beyond pure hardware by offering more integrated solutions for users. Smarter hardware is now bundled with management software, usually for DVRs, but also with more complex solutions for video management coming on the market. This unifies hardware products to work together more efficiently.
While video management is the most common integration for Asian manufacturers, some solutions also integrate other systems, such as access control or intrusion alarms. As vendors expand their offerings, integration plays a larger role.
Integration at Work
While integrating products is common, the extent of integration has a wide range. Qtum, a Korean surveillance provider, focuses on video management solutions for DVRs, instead of controlling cameras and video servers.
¨The unique points are a smart display which pops up as full single channel when events happen, such as (detecting) motion or an alarm,〃 said Gyu Yong Lee, President of Qtum.
For GSP Systems , a Korean manufacturer, its integrated solution also focuses on video management solutions. The GSP CMS functions include an e-map, live monitoring, recording, remote searching and an event log at the same time, said Steven Lee, President and CEO of GSP Systems. The solution can display up to 500 channels on five screens.
Kguard CMS 2000 is a Web-based central security management solution. It can be integrated with Kguard DVRs, stand-alone DVR systems and IP surveillance systems, said Falcon Ko, Marketing Manager of Kguard. ¨CMS 2000 supports multiple security solution integration and a two-way audio feature that further allows users to efficiently manage and control surveillance activity.〃
EverFocus Electronics offers the PowerCon 4.x video management software, which is backwards compatible with all EverFocus surveillance products.
¨Currently, PowerCon 4.x focuses on most diverse CCTV security systems,〃 said Ingo Jansen, R&D Manager for EverFocus Electronics. ¨However, the integration of access control systems is (in) process and further security systems might also be integrated in future, depending on market demands.〃
Other security companies already offer integration beyond video systems, such as Taiwanese vendor AVerMedia. ¨The AVerDigi Series DVR is an open platform, which can be integrated with access control and video management systems, so the CM 3000 (software) can be integrated with the AVerDiGi DVR too,〃 said Stanley Cheng, Product Manager for AVerMedia.
The CM 3000's functions include alarm notification for remote events, making situational awareness possible. ¨Take access control as an example,〃 Cheng said. ¨If unauthorized access occurs at a remote site and a remote DVR triggers an alarm, then the CM 3000 would receive the alarm and send corresponding alarm notifications.〃
Intrusion systems are also managed by GeoVision's GV-CMS (Central Monitoring Station) solution, said George Tai, Chairman and CEO of the Taiwanese surveillance manufacturer. ¨GV-CMS can be integrated with security equipment such as Input/Output devices, sensors, alarms, detectors.〃 It also supports e-mail and text message services, with 19 different event alerts.
For surveillance, the GeoVision solution governs video systems, integrating cameras, IP cameras, PTZ controls, DVRs and video servers. ¨Users can set up an IP matrix that allows the operator to monitor up to 3,840 cameras with 40 matrix views in networked security rooms, mainly for TV wall control,〃 Tai said.
Instek Digital, another Taiwanese player, boasts open architecture software that operates on any hardware, regardless of vendor. ¨MatriVideo Command Centers provide extraordinary real time video image performance for effortless security monitoring by utilizing intuitive interface tools for managing enterprise level video surveillance systems,〃 said Sara Lin, Business Development Director for Instek Digital.
Its search tools track data and classify video feeds on a centralized system, Lin said. ¨An embedded Advanced Smart Search function makes video more accessible and understandable to the operator.〃 Its platform can integrate with third-party analytics, such as ObjectVideo or SmartConnect point-of-sale software.
Delivering Tailored Solutions
Remote monitoring makes Kguard's solution useful in a variety of applications, Ko said. ¨Kguard's CMS 2000 solution is especially tailored for settings like a nationwide retail business, banks, and corporate and international enterprises.〃
Keeping an eye on remote areas is also a target for Instek's solutions. It is suited for ¨remote management and monitoring by means of distributed geographic security locations,〃 Lin said. Applications which require seamless video streams while preserving superior image quality in live or playback modes are a good fit for the solution. Users keeping an eye on the bottom line can also deploy the solution to reduce tasks for security personnel to ¨streamline the workflow and personnel tasks.〃
While making separate products talk to each other is the ultimate goal of integration, it is easier said than done. More integration is ahead for some vendors.
Qtum plans to expand from DVR management to integrating network cameras and video servers, Lee said. Aside from technical issues, more education is required as well. ¨Good product training for customers is one of the key factors for successful installation,〃 Tai said.
Part of that education includes raising awareness for integrated solutions, Lin said. ¨Equipment buying decisions are now being shifted to the IT departments, so demonstrating technical features, in a non-diluted user friendly fashion, is difficult,〃 she said. ¨Many system integrators have basic IP awareness, and many come from the legacy analog era, so a demonstrated proficiency in selling our IP products with clear understanding of the capabilities is a challenge.〃
Tai added that support for third-party IP cameras was required. ¨GeoVision has own brand IP cameras; however, we understand some customers may have already been using IP cameras from other manufacturers,〃 he said. ¨Thus we are continuing to develop newer and more powerful functions to be able to integrate with different IP cameras.〃
AVerMedia also sees interoperability as a challenge to overcome for integrated systems. ¨Different DVR products sometimes can't provide the same functions for CMS due to different platforms (PC-based or embedded systems), so there have to be many slight modifications whenever you want to support a new product, even if they are produced by us,〃 Cheng said.
A part of interoperability includes integration for legacy products. ¨One of the challenges in developing integrated solutions is certainly to include the backwards compatibility (for) previous products,〃 Jansen said. ¨At the same time, the ease of use must be guaranteed, as the integration of comprehensive functionality must not result in operating difficulties.〃
Whether to offer an open or proprietary solution presents vendors with a thorny choice. ¨There are considerable debates about the pros and cons of open platform software,〃 Lin said. ¨There is little doubt that open platform software gives buyers the freedom to source from multiple manufacturers for specific applications at lower prices. However, there is hidden drawback of open platform software, which is heterogeneity.〃
This can be seen in surveillance standards for network cameras. ¨The lack of real market standard results in limited interoperability among cameras and for open platform software,〃 Lin said. ¨To integrate the maximum number of IP cameras, most of open platform software vendors will sacrifice some unique (and most of time, advanced) functions of the cameras to achieve a unified platform. On the other hand, some 'single vendors' provide total solutions, yet have difficulty coping with dynamic market trends and fail to deliver more advanced products in a timely way.〃 Proprietary solutions can limit user choices when they want to scale up their previous hardware investment.
Thus, designing a truly integrated solution requires vendors to understand user needs and respond to them. ¨To design good CMS, a real world environment is crucial,〃 Cheng said. ¨We have get out of lab and contact with our users to make sure we are going in the right direction.〃