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Customizing can be the answer to security challenges

Software-based video management solutions have become a big part of the security industry in the last five years.

October 12, 2011  By  Rob Colman

Video software has been around in the industry for more than 15 years, but typically it was bundled or embedded as DVR and it was usually not possible to upgrade, modify or customize the software.

These types of limitations still exist with certain entry-level VMSs and network video recorders. The reason they still exist is for small applications where an end user simply wants to record a couple of cameras and look at the archive periodically. These types of products are low cost and relatively easy to set up, as the options are limited. But for enterprise-class security applications, such as higher education, critical infrastructure, property management, transportation, big box retail, etc., there are now VMS vendors that offer the ability to customize the software for security challenges that don’t necessarily fit in the “off-the-shelf” category.

It is important to make the distinction between the various types of customization. It should not mean a small or big manufacturer creating completely custom software to meet an end-user application. A customer could end up with a unique and costly product and potential future developments would only be burdened by the one end user.

Similar to customizing a car, the main functions should exist; maybe you want to add a car DVD player for the kids. For VMS, you want a product that meets 90 per cent of the needs with the “off-the-shelf” functionality, but perhaps you want to be able to integrate a unique building automation system. For modifying a car, you have the option of getting the manufacturer to do it for you or a mechanic or yourself. Similarly, a good enterprise-class VMS manufacturer should offer the three options for customization: the end user themselves, the security integrator or the actual manufacturer.


Again, not all VMS manufacturers are equal, so if you are interested in a custom application, you should inquire if their software development kit (SDK) was designed to do the type of customization you are interested in. For example, if the SDK has the framework to easily bring in third-party events to index with video, such as access control, video analytics or point-of-sales, the customization should be relatively painless. It is important to look out for the forward compatibility of the SDK, meaning that any custom integration is forward compatible with future versions of the VMS.

Beyond integrations, other types of customization may include modifying interface layouts or simplifying processes. For example, an HTML web page with a button that simultaneously starts recording a camera and sending out an email warning of a security threat.

Sometimes it seems that there is that “one feature” that the end user has categorized as a “must have” that does not seem to be available” off-the-shelf.” The ability to customize software can often be the answer. By consulting an enterprise-class VMS manufacturer to develop a strategy that is cost effective and forward compatible, you can most probably fulfill your clients’ needs.

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