The Power of Proper Video Surveillance Design
When meeting with prospective clients, I often hear statements about how rarely their video surveillance solution gets used. On one hand that’s a great thing as there are very few issues that require video footage backup in their place of business. On the contrary, however, what is the point of an investment into something that is rarely or never used. Video surveillance is much more than a security tool that should be used when an incident occurred. The statement of “we rarely use our cameras” tells us that the previous solution was either poorly designed or is a product with poorly designed software that is not user-friendly. Another reason for a client rarely using their system is a lack of training on the system. Without the knowledge of how to log into the system or how to export video, the system cannot be used correctly and will be ignored over time.
Video Surveillance Solutions are an Investment
Whether it is an upgrade to an existing video surveillance solution or a brand new setup, it’s an investment for your business. When deciding on a video surveillance solution, the cost is usually a deciding factor, but functionality should be on the forefront. Unfortunately, the functionality of most security solutions is overlooked because most companies will not provide demos of the products they are quoting. In the end, all your have to go off, is a price and a part number, which allows you to see the product online, but not in person. We have an entire post dedicated to the importance of having a product demo before deciding on a quote, as it all ties into the investment you are about to make.
Video Surveillance solutions are much more than just a deterrent and video footage to refer to when something happened. Video surveillance can allow anyone within your organization to view the cameras of any of your locations. This ultimately factors into project management, but also accountability of the employees, delivery companies, and quality control of any of the locations from the press of a button. Additionally, our Milestone XProtect video surveillance solutions allow for the integration of other platforms, such as access control or alarm systems, as well as panic buttons. The video surveillance solution that was initially never used just became your central platform for all of your security solutions in all of your buildings. The importance with that, however, is the proper design, an easy to use software and most of all training for the users of the software.
The design is crucial for video surveillance applications. If a camera is placed in the wrong spot, it may be obstructed by something and will be rendered ineffective. When designing a video surveillance system, it should be more than unpacking the cameras from a box and mounting them. Lens calculations, bandwidth calculations and server requirements should all be taken into account before even considering mounting a camera. The effect of choppy or grainy video are detrimental to the effectiveness of a system, but will also deal a blow to everyone wanting to use the system. A surveillance solution will have to include properly mounted and placed cameras, a network built to support the streaming of video and a server capable of recording the video and supplying it to the user. If one of these is lacking, the solution is doomed to fail.
Accessing the system
The make it or break it document is the supported viewing methods list. Without the right medium to view the cameras from a smartphone, laptop or tablet, it will not be used. The unfortunate truth is that many solutions have restrictions for viewing. Some lower-end embedded NVR’s, for example, cannot be viewed through any other browser than Internet Explorer. Other recording solutions will come with a free app that crashes on start-up, and the list goes on. The right solution for any business should include an app that will run on both smartphones and tablets, while also offering software for laptops or desktops. Cross-platform compatibility between iOS and Android is also extremely important, and the experience within the app should ultimately stay the same, regardless of platform. Now, even if there is an app for all devices available, most smartphone apps will be restricted on their functionality, which is why a demo is crucial. If the app only allows for viewing the cameras, but not playback, for example, that’s a major problem, and no price should be low enough for that to look attractive. Having a video surveillance solution that can offer a full range of viewing options and a full-featured software for all devices will help improve the video surveillance experience. Ultimately your investment will be worth every cent when these requirements are met.
Easy, yet powerful Software
Some people hear software, and they just give up, based on the word. The unfortunate issue is that many software solutions are unnecessarily complicated and often lack features that many users are looking for. Video surveillance software is unfortunately no different. In many cases, software is built as an after-thought. Many manufacturers are primarily camera focused and have to offer a recording solution for the cameras to be used. At that point, a functional software will be created, not something that is full-featured. Additionally, that software may also have some undiscovered flaws because the cameras are the primary focus.
It is important for any video surveillance application to have a piece of software that will be easy to use, but yet powerful enough to accommodate the location’s requirements. More advanced Video Management Software (VMS), such as Milestone’s XProtect, will allow for all of that. Milestone’s software and even their Husky NVR lineup do carry a higher price, than most entry-level NVR’s, but after using the software for about five minutes the price will no longer be the main focus of the video surveillance application. Milestone offers software for all platforms with their Milestone Mobile and Milestone Smart Client offerings. The Milestone VMS and their Husky NVRs also allow for features that most video surveillance applications can only dream off. Ultimately, a fully-fledged VMS is always worth it, simply because the system will actually be used. And for the higher price tag, we do offer financing options.
So, what is the point of more powerful software when there is no training for it, no matter how easy to use it is? A lack of training is an issue that we regularly hear of. Integrators simply do not take the time to spend with the client after a full installation. The result is that either YouTube has to provide all the necessary information, which is less than ideal, or the solution collects dust. Training is an important aspect of any new technology implementation, that’s why we always factor an hour or two into our quotes. If more training is required, we will spend that additional time on site as well, simply to ensure that everyone is comfortable using the new system. Without a certain comfort with technology, things can either go very wrong, or it will never be used, because the login was lost a long time ago.
We are always ready to support and help our clients. Whether the question is very basic or an advanced question, we can help and are more than happy to do so. With every solution we offer, we encourage our clients to ask questions from the day we meet them to discuss their project. Our goal is to ensure that they are as excited about technology as we are, and trust me, we love what we do.
With the rise of integrated solutions, where access control and alarm systems can be tied to the video surveillance platform, management of an entire corporation has never been easier. It also encourages the use of the surveillance system, by offering more information, more easily accessible to the end-user. It is extremely easy to view every single event that has happened across all the platforms and follow it up with video footage and details, with the click of a button or the touch of a screen. Of course, a connected platform like the one we are describing will still need to abide by the other criteria set forth above to become useful and to actually be used. With access to such vast information, and the ease that it comes with, a connected infrastructure usually does not need much convincing for it to be used effectively.
A video surveillance system should never be something that is only used in the worst case scenario. Instead, it should be an everyday tool that will make day to day operations easier by being able to see everything at all times. Ultimately, deciding on a video surveillance solution should not be solely based on price, but on the products and the look and feel of the software. Get a demo for everything that you are considering, and the one that works for you will be the one to choose. It is important to have an open software that will allow the add-on of additional features and cameras later on. With a solution such as Milestone XProtect, features can be added at any time.
Whether you currently have a system or not, we can provide you with the most important part, options. We can sit down with you and discuss the options you have for your upgrade or new install. Additionally, we can and will provide demos for the different software and hardware offerings we have. If you ever catch yourself thinking:” We never use that surveillance system anyway,” then the time has come to call us. We are ready to help at 1 (844) 230-2730 or email at [email protected]