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Managing cutting-edge recording devices

It seems there are always new things to talk about in the security industry, especially in the video surveillance segment. With all the different established and emerging manufacturers, there is always developing technology being released. But sometimes a new feature or product that generates a lot of buzz, still requires additional development from the system architecture side for the solution to be optimal in real-world situations.


June 1, 2011
By Rob Colman


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Recent releases of edge-recording capabilities from some IP camera and encoder manufacturers are one such situation. This feature offers users the ability to record directly on the camera by either using a built-in hard drive, a USB stick, or most common, an SD card (the same off-the-shelf technology you would use in a consumer camera). Although appealing and very interesting to some, the edge-recording feature which has been released for a while is rarely used. To really take advantage of this new hardware feature you need VMS software to manage it. Especially because of the limited recording capacity of the SD card, it is important that the VMS can transfer the video recording off the camera to a more standard form of media, such as a computer server or networked video recorder (NVR). This ability from a VMS is sometimes known as “video trickling” as the user is removing the video off in increments based on a schedule or on specific events. More and more, VMS manufacturers are incorporating this feature into their systems to offer users more flexibility in applications and more reliability in preserving archived video. Here are a few different applications that an integrator can apply to their projects using a VMS with a video trickling feature.

In the case of scheduling, this type of application could be used when there is a small subset of cameras on a remote building that is part of a larger system. Instead of having to put a server or NVR in the remote building, the cameras can handle the recording and could be scheduled to offload the video to a central sever at a designated time. For example, all cameras offload at midnight to minimize bandwidth impact on the corporate network. In terms of using the recording based on event, it could be any type of event that the VMS is able to handle, such as motion detection, a video analytic event, dry contact, etc. This again could be used to optimize bandwidth efficiency by recording megapixel or HD on the edge and only send higher quality image back to the NVR based on these events. 

In terms of practical applications, I see this type of technology being used primarily in three types of projects; first, high-security installations where the user is looking for another level of redundancy for recordings by having the edge-recording on the camera in parallel with the NVR; secondly, for a situation where the network connectivity between the camera and the host NVR server is limited; and thirdly, for a small camera count situation where the customer is using edge recording locally instead of a NVR. This third example could also be used for companies wanting to offer managed/hosted video services for end-users. Small installations of three or five cameras could be installed with no local recording server to manage, and just a host server at central monitoring station. 

Ultimately, in order to really benefit from emerging technology, more powerful edge devices need to be backed by other supporting technology. It is one thing to have a camera with the ability to record locally, but it is useless unless you have a VMS that can manage the recording.


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