5 Questions To Ask When Investing in a Video Management System (VMS)

● Jun 13, 2021

Video management is the most important tool and can make or break the success of your video surveillance deployment. With new technology coming out everyday, understanding your options and aligning them with your needs is no easy task. As security experts with 15+ designing custom security solutions, here are the 5 most important questions you should ask yourself when selecting a video surveillance management platform.

Municipalities, law enforcement agencies, and educational institutions are continuing to invest in video surveillance and monitoring to ensure public safety. The roll-out of IP-based cameras and reasonably-priced reliable wireless networks has led to a revolution in networked cameras. Not to mention, city-wide coordination and management of surveillance hardware. It takes a strong video management system (VMS) to manage all of the raw footage and data from these cameras

Video management is the most important tool and can make or break the success of your video surveillance deployment. In our experience, we’ve witnessed how difficult it can be for a new security admin to implement this new technology. These admins are often challenged to find a new VMS solution, despite their lack of understanding of all of the intricacies involved in choosing a platform.

The 5 most important questions you should ask when investing in a VMS:

1. How easy is it to use for the system managers?

The key function of a VMS is to manage the behavior of the surveillance cameras. For example, which cameras work together, where the cameras should point when an event happens, and who can see data from specific groups.

Look for a VMS that enables the following:

  • camera grouping
  • user rights grouping (who can look at which cameras and which footage from those cameras)
  • system-wide monitoring from “every pane of glass”
  • a robust rules engine that allows you to customize your data and access rules as needed

The right platform will save you hundreds of hours of work over less expensive and robust systems.

2. How easy is the VMS to use for end-users located in the operations center and out in the field?

Once you’ve deployed your VMS successfully, successful large-scale adoption of the platform will largely depend on the ease of use for the end-user, both in the operations center and out in the field.

A few questions that will help you understand the usability of your VMS are:

  • Is it a clean interface clean and free of distractions?
    Users of the VMS need to be focusing on the images coming through, not on distractions delivered by the VMS.
  • How many system resources does the VMS use on end-user devices?
    You’ll want a fast and light interface that uses low system resources on portable devices that have limited memory. Your VMS needs to have flexible camera viewing so that your end users can get the best possible angles. Additionally, it should have multiscreen support.
  • Is it intelligent and optimized for workflow?
    A great VMS will have an intelligent, optimized workflow built-in. The benefit? An optimized work-flow makes it easy to find, retrieve, export, and handoff video when needed.

3. How easy is it to use in collecting “chain-of-evidence” video footage?

The end goal of most video surveillance footage is to use that footage for prosecutor purposes. However, “Chain-of-evidence” laws are complex and require that the gathering and distribution of video footage must adhere to strict guidelines.

To abide by the strict chain-of-evidence guidelines, your VMS should give you the ability to:

  • Encrypt exported video
  • Digitally sign the exported video for tracking purposes
  • Export your video into a priority format with an embedded player and lock down the original video once it’s been exported. Granular user rights, proprietary formatting, and “lockdowns” help to keep video pure and out of the reach of others to reduces mass distribution (i.e. YouTube) of crucial evidence.

4. Is it an Open Platform VMS?

After several years, VMS solutions are now becoming commonplace. Most people understand them and there are some true market leaders. People are finally understanding that video camera networks combined with VMS can bring to the table so many more things than simply recording video and spending hours culling through all of that content.

Add-on applications have become increasingly more popular because of their ability to transform a once complex and primarily reactive tool to an easy-to-use, proactive crime-fighting solution.

Integrating with numerous camera manufacturers, device manufacturers, and 3rd party applications such as Hawkeye, Briefcam, Agent VI, and The Boring Toolbox have made things like gun-fire detection, license plate recognition, and sifting through hours of video in less than 10 minutes a possibility.

However, in order for these applications to be useful, your VMS must be an open-platform with open APIs. If your VMS cannot easily integrate with other solutions, your surveillance network applications will be limited.

5. What are your VMS scalability needs?

Finally, question the migration path of your VMS. Most initial deployments of a video surveillance network are small and limited in scope. Because of this, you may only want to pay for an entry-level VMS solution. Which is fine, initially. But as your number of networked devices expand, applications grow, and users increase, you will inevitably need to upgrade your VMS.

“The explosion of new IP Cameras, IoT devices, access control, audio devices and more is driving intense new scalability requirements for video surveillance systems. And the mainstreaming of Full HD resolution (1080P) and 15fps and higher recording is being exacerbated by a seemingly endless march towards longer and longer mandated retention times.” (arxys)

Scaling up from a single all-in-one appliance with a handful of cameras to a distributed system with hundreds of cameras that require exponentially higher bandwidth and processing rate is not an easy task and can cost you time, money, and even employees.

Make sure that the video management system you invest in today can sustain your success and scale with your company as it grows.

There are several VMS solutions available on the market today.

Continental Computers has helped many cities, schools, local law enforcement agencies, and large agencies create surveillance clouds as well as more complex distributed deployments using the Milestone XProtect software.

In the process of implementing or upgrading your video surveillance management platform?

Contact us today to speak with an expert about which options best suit your needs.


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