January 17, 2011
Software for IP Cameras
NVR or VMS Software systems
Remember the old days when we used DVRs (Digital Video Recorders). Life was kind of simple. Just connect the cameras to the back of the unit and away you went. Now we have network attached IP cameras and we use NVRs (Network Video Recorders). The NVR system has a lot more capability than the older DVR systems. There are more choices, and more things to consider before purchasing.
To add to the confusion, some people think that an NVR is just the software and others think it is a complete system box thatís similar to the DVR. Well, yes there are complete systems available that make it easy for people who are familiar with DVRs. We call this an NVR System. To further complicate things some people call the software that runs in the computer, Video Management Software or VMS. No matter the name, itís the same thing. The system consists of a computer plus the special IP Camera video recording software. Some NVR systems use a special operating system (like Linux) but most use the Windows operating system. Usually you can get just the NVR software and use your own computer. Hereís a review of how to select the best software for your application.
It is best to decide on the software before selecting your IP cameras. You always need to check that the software supports the IP cameras you plan to use. NVR software is primarily used to record the video, but there are three major applications.
1) Real-time video monitoring
2) Recording Video
3) Automated notification of alarm conditions
Real-time Monitoring: This is the first way video cameras were used. This requires security people to sit in front of computer screens that display the video from a number of cameras. For example, they watch to see if people are shoplifting or in an area they donít belong. The best software for this application makes it easy to see a few cameras at the same time. You have to be careful not to overwhelm the security person with too many cameras. You can also automatically step through a few different camera views. This is usually referred to as a carousel view. In this case you have to be careful that you donít miss something when the viewer is looking at one of the other cameras. The software makes it easy to view the cameras and to record the video manually when required.
Recording Video: This is the most common reason to use NVR software. In this application you are not concerned about real-time events but are more interested in catching the bad guys after the fact. The security people review the video only after the crime has been committed. Software that provides the recording must be reliable, meaning that the software and computer doesnít crash, and the data is there when you need it. Unfortunately, you really canít tell how reliable a product is from the specifications, and even from a short demonstration or evaluation period. You have to rely on what other peoples experience has been, or trust the person selling the software.
When recording video, it is best to record the video only when motion is detected. This dramatically reduces the video storage required in the computer. Some software relies on the camera to detect the motion, while other software does the detection at the computer. There is a running debate on which is the better approach. If the camera does the detection then there is less bandwidth used on the network and the computer doesnít have to be as powerful. On the other hand it gets more complicated if you have many different types of cameras so the centralized motion detection is easier to use. You get more consistant and sometimes more powerful features when using the NVR software.Automated notification of alarm conditions: This is a great feature if you have one person monioring many cameras. It is also very helpful if you want to be notified that there's someone at the door. When an alarm condition is detected the video from the camera automatically appears on a designated personís screen. This type of application requires less people to provide security. You can use only one person to monitor hundreds of cameras since they are notified only when something happens. For example, if a person enters a restricted area, the motion detection is triggered and the security person is notified with an alarm sound and the video pops into one of the video windows on his computer screen.
Besides recording the video, a nice feature is to be able to review video from multiple IP cameras at the same time. This way you can track people as they move from one location to another. Itís also nice to have features that help you find when an object was removed. For example, if you know a laptop was removed sometime in the last couple of days, it is difficult to review all the video so itís better if the software can pinpoint when it was removed.
There are more advance notifications available. Features include letting you know when someone leaves a package in a crowd, or a car stops in a no stopping area, etc. Again this reduces the number of people required to assure safety and security. In some cases these automated systems provide more reliable notification than a person. After all a security person could be looking at the wrong video or become distracted when the suitcase with the explosives is left in the crowded airport.
Need help deciding on the right NVR or VMS software, just contact us for help. We can be reached at 914-944-3425 or 800-431-1658 (in the USA), or use or contact form.