Across the globe, municipalities are implementing information and communication technologies that allow them to better manage the complexity of life in their specific community. Among the most prevalent technologies is video surveillance, which is being used for myriad applications ranging from policing streets and schools to medical facilities, public parks, sports venues, and transportation hubs. A robust video management software (VMS) solution at the heart of the surveillance system can help "smart cities" comprehensively monitor multiple locations, increasing operational efficiency, the dissemination of information to the public, and the overall quality of government services and citizen welfare.
VMS is the unifying foundation of a powerful municipal surveillance system, bringing together not only otherwise isolated video systems onto a single management platform, but also other security and nonsecurity systems. A VMS solution installed in a centralized command center allows multiple authorized viewers to simultaneously view live and recorded video with control over any number of cameras installed across the entire surveillance network. Advanced VMS systems allow video to be pushed from one operator to another, making collaboration easy and seamless.
1. Application Flexibility
Communities grow and expand, crime hotspots shift, and surveillance needs and goals change. Municipalities often implement video surveillance to address these changing public safety concerns and other needs. But as the systems are used, new opportunities arise for municipalities to apply surveillance for other applications, potentially saving costly expenditures. For instance, businesses in the community may elect to share video feeds from their cameras with police departments to improve safety and speed up investigations. Advanced VMS systems allow law enforcement to bring video feeds from multiple disparate businesses into their VMS as part of a managed system, without the need for individual logins.
2. System Integration
VMS solutions based on an open architecture platform can integrate with a variety of other technologies such as license plate recognition systems, access control, facial recognition, time and attendance, and visitor management. What may have started out as a video surveillance implementation can transform into a more comprehensive end-to-end solution, thanks to a large menu of available options.
Increasingly, open-platform VMS solutions function as the main platform for integrated security systems. These systems enable connecting and collecting, processing, and analyzing a wealth of information to detect abnormal behaviors or incidents based on established policies. Systems can also be programmed to alert predetermined personnel—such as law enforcement—to take action if necessary.
While monitoring tens or even hundreds of cameras is an exhausting and expensive task for a human operator, it is easily handled by a VMS system. Intelligent and sophisticated technology filters the most important information and combines alerts to create meaningful events. Relevant video is pushed to fixed or mobile devices, and critical alerts can be sent to specified authorities in certain situations, such as an object being left behind.
4. Mobile Applications
Advanced VMS solutions can compress large video files to manageable sizes, enabling them to deliver full-motion, HD streams of live or recorded video to mobile users without compromising image quality. This allows users to access surveillance images in real-time from a tablet, smartphone, PC, or laptop with a standard web interface. Meaningful alerts can be pushed to the mobile devices, resulting in collaborative and public safety advantages. Additionally, mobile devices can be used to stream video back to the command center to provide onsite situational awareness.
Maintenance costs often depend on the amount of time required for a technician to address an issue. Often there is a minimum charge associated with on-site maintenance, so even a simple fix can be expensive. With newer VMS solutions, technicians can remotely access systems to diagnose or even correct an issue without the need to schedule an on-site call. These solutions also include auto-update capabilities to ensure that users will always be running the most current and secure version without the need for an on-site visit.
The challenges municipalities face in deploying widespread video surveillance solutions can be daunting, but thanks to the advanced capabilities of modern VMS solutions, they are not insurmountable. The ability of these VMS solutions to expand the functionality of surveillance beyond security delivers even greater value. This allows municipalities to more easily justify video surveillance systems, even within their traditionally tight budgets.
Ken LaMarca is vice president of sales and marketing at OnSSI.