Video Surveillance Software: Why You Should Consider an Intelligent VMS

August 05, 2021

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Key Takeaways

Today’s video surveillance software helps businesses gain actionable insights from security camera footage. By using the power of artificial intelligence (AI) and other smart technologies, an intelligent video management system (IVMS) can help you improve safety and security while enabling proactive action that drives efficiency.

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Video surveillance in business settings is not a new concept. However, its primary function used to be limited to security. But just as security cameras have evolved over the years—providing sharper, high-quality footage—video surveillance software has also taken leaps forward. This has opened the door for security systems to provide value beyond preventing theft. Today’s systems give businesses increased site visibility and actionable insights, helping them save time and improve safety and productivity.

This is due to computer software’s innate ability to analyze and process data. When paired with advanced technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), businesses can extract valuable information through camera footage, proactively solving business problems. Real-time video analytics enhanced with AI is no longer a “nice to have;'' it’s quickly becoming an integral part of business operations, with its overall market expected to grow to $9 billion by 2023.

There are many different factors to consider when choosing the best video surveillance software and security camera system for your business or organization. This guide will walk you through the key features and benefits to consider when evaluating video surveillance software solutions—including why you should consider an intelligent video management system (IVMS).

What is video surveillance software?

Video surveillance software allows end-users to view and interact with video footage. With video surveillance software, you can manage camera and recording settings, view multiple camera feeds at once, and set up alerts for motion detection. Businesses use this software to connect multiple camera streams across business and industrial operations. It’s useful for analyzing footage to investigate incidents, improve safety, and increase efficiency.

Surveillance software is only one part of a security camera system. You also need:

  • Cameras: Today, analog cameras are generally considered outdated technology for a commercial security camera system, since they offer such low-resolution footage. Today, IP cameras are used to capture high definition footage. 

  • Recorders and storage: Traditionally, camera systems used digital video recorders (DVRs) or on-premise network video recorders (NVRs), storing videos on a hard drive. Cloud NVRs enable you to store video footage in the cloud, so it’s accessible remotely.

  • Connectivity: To become a network, the cameras need to be linked together with recorders and software. Power over Ethernet (PoE) cameras are a type of IP camera that can use an Ethernet cable for both power and network access, making them easy and flexible to install at scale. This convergence of devices connected to the internet, collecting and sharing data (in this case, video data) is known as the Internet of Things (IoT). Or when used in a specific industrial application, IIoT.

Video surveillance software is sometimes called a video management system (VMS). When a VMS includes advanced technology such as artificial intelligence (AI), it’s called an intelligent video management system (IVMS). With an IVMS, traditional video management features get upgraded with powerful AI functionality and intelligent search tools. For example, you might need to review hours of footage to find a key moment of captured footage with older camera systems. But with an IVMS, you can easily search camera streams by date, people detected, and more—saving time and increasing operational efficiency.

What features should you look for in video surveillance software?

Today’s video management software looks very different from the CCTV systems deployed widely in the 1980s. There are a wide range of features to enhance live views and historical footage. Here are a few key software features to look for in a video surveillance system:

Modern user interface

When built on a cloud platform, modern software offers web-based access. This eliminates the need to be on-site to view camera footage—a pain point of older camera systems. Instead, through remote access, users can view video streams through any device with a web browser.

Video surveillance software itself is a lot more user-friendly than it used to be, making it easier to navigate and use. Look for drag-and-drop features to easily make customizations, giving you both high-level visualizations and granular looks at data for troubleshooting. Also, check for user permissions so you can limit who views videos and recording settings to help you save bandwidth.

Ability to export and share clips

When an incident happens, it’s imperative to export and share video clips with internal stakeholders or local authorities. For example, if someone experiences an injury on-site, you may need to export and share clips with your safety and legal teams or insurance companies to cover treatment. If your video software solution is cloud-based, you’ll also want the ability to save the exported footage to your cloud library, so you have indefinite access.

Built-in artificial intelligence (AI)

AI is what sets an IVMS apart from a traditional VMS. AI is used for detecting motion, people, and clothing in video monitoring. For example, you could set up your camera system to send a real-time alert when it detects motion in a certain area of your site like a stockroom or a loading dock.

Intelligent search tools

Before video surveillance software had search functionality, you’d have to sift through hours of video recordings to find what you needed. Now, with intelligent search features powered by AI, searching through videos becomes much more streamlined. Look for an IVMS that allows you to filter through footage by parameters such as date, time, people detected, and more.

Proactive real-time alerts

Imagine if your camera system sent you an SMS alert notifying you that a production line had stopped. Today's intelligent video surveillance software can do exactly that. For example, using AI to recognize inactivity, your IVMS could trigger a workflow to send you a notification so you can investigate why production has stopped. Real-time alerts help you respond faster to incidents from anywhere. Look for customizable alerts that can be triggered by detections like activity, people, or clothing. 

Third-party camera integration

If you already have security cameras installed, look for camera software that can integrate with your existing infrastructure. You don’t have to rip-and-replace the cameras your business has already invested in. Instead, your existing infrastructure should benefit from your new software without another large upfront investment.

Accessible technical support

Look for a security solutions provider who can support you at every step of your customer journey. You’ll want to partner with a vendor that offers both robust support options and advice for maximizing your investment. Find out if the provider uses channels you and your employees prefer, whether that’s a technical knowledge base, self-help videos and tutorials, online case submissions, or live 24/7 support.

What are the benefits of an intelligent video management system (IVMS)?

While a traditional video management system is a versatile tool, the added layer of intelligence offered by an IVMS can help you extract even more value out of your camera system. An IVMS brings even more context to worksite visibility, enabling you to investigate issues quickly, automate workflows, and boost efficiency. 

For example, if there’s an incident at a worksite, your teams need to be able to take action fast. In these critical moments, it’s inefficient to sort through multiple camera feeds and hours of playback to find an exact moment of footage you need. An IVMS with AI features and intelligent search tools enables your teams to respond to changing situations faster. 

An IVMS offers three main benefits over traditional IP video surveillance software:

1. Find important footage faster 

AI can detect the smallest motion onscreen or the presence of a person even if they’re not fully visible. When this type of motion detector is combined with AI-driven search tools, an IVMS can help you find specific footage fast based on certain parameters. For example, you might search footage on a specific date but flagging only the people not wearing safety vests. You might have spent hours manually combing through footage doing this before, whereas it only takes a few minutes using intelligent features. Combining intelligent detection and search functionality helps find the exact footage you’re looking for quickly.

2. Easily and accurately answer security and safety questions

Intelligent video surveillance software can help you answer questions like, “Who was the last person to rack this pallet?” or “How was this piece of equipment damaged?” You could also answer these questions with traditional VMS, but intelligent search tools enable you to find answers in minutes vs. hours or days by searching for motion or people within a specific area of a camera stream. By accurately answering these questions, site managers can correct behavior or put training programs in place. 

Metal distributor O’Neal Steel learned how valuable intelligent search tools are in helping them answer questions fast and streamline incident investigations. Previous video surveillance systems they had tried only created frustration. When site managers needed to investigate an incident, they’d discover the surveillance camera they needed was offline with no warning or notification. Even when cameras were working properly, they still spent hours navigating their system and finding specific camera streams or moments in time. 

By implementing Samsara’s Site Visibility solution, site managers have streamlined their investigations and spend less time sifting through footage using intelligent search tools. When there is an incident, they can use the IVMS’ AI-powered people detection to find the right footage within minutes. Once found, they can easily export a clip or share a link to the footage with their safety team, enabling everyone to respond faster. “It’s very easy for authorized users to uncover the story quickly, no matter where they are, and share with relevant stakeholders,” said CTO Sateesh Donti. “The team used to spend a lot of time sifting through video footage to investigate incidents. Now, it takes 30 seconds.”

3. Take proactive action with intelligent, customizable alerts

In addition to the intelligent search tools offered by an IVMS, you can also configure proactive notifications when an incident occurs. For example, you can set up real-time alerts to notify you when people or motion are detected after-hours, allowing you to investigate suspicious activity, even from home via your mobile device. You can also detect when people are in restricted locations like offices or server rooms. Detection and alerts aren’t limited to people. You could also set up alerts for inactivity on a machine line, notifying you if a piece of equipment goes offline.

How Logistics Warehouse increased efficiency with Site Visibility

Logistics Warehouse offers transportation, product manipulation, and warehousing services. They take pride in offering customers quality services with exceptional efficiency. Ronnie Robertson, Logistic Warehouse’s President, previously spent five minutes a day at warehouse packing stations with workers to better understand workflows, seeing where the company could improve processes. However, his presence impacted employee behavior and didn’t always present an accurate view of production line operations.

Now, using Samsara’s video surveillance solution, Site Visibility, to gain a holistic view of his factory, Robertson can review current processes anytime and identify new workflows. Best of all, he can review operations from anywhere via a web dashboard or mobile app. In one use case, Robertson set up Inactivity Alerts to identify inefficiencies. When cameras detect unplanned pauses on the production line, the IVMS automatically triggers a real-time alert so supervisors can investigate. By decreasing unplanned pauses, they produce 45% more each day—increasing their profit margins by 8%. “We kept finding new things to look at with the cameras, new insights and things to improve,” said Robertson. “The system just makes sense. We’re already seeing major improvements in efficiency.”

Try Samsara’s intelligent video surveillance software and cameras for free

Samsara’s Site Visibility solution is a reliable, flexible security camera system that captures high-quality footage. Our cloud NVR allows customers remote access to footage anytime, from anywhere. Our intelligent VMS offering brings powerful AI to any third-party IP security camera for enhanced worksite visibility. Our advanced video surveillance software makes it possible to search for specific incidents faster and spend less time monitoring footage using intelligent detections and alerting. With Samsara’s Site Visibility solution, you can:

  • Monitor all locations remotely with cloud-based technology.

  • Gain actionable insights with AI-enhanced camera streams. 

  • Use intelligent search tools to spend less time investigating incidents.

  • Integrate existing, third-party camera infrastructure.

  • Track your fleet, equipment, sites, and more via a single dashboard via Samsara’s Connected Operations Platform.

Want to learn more about how Samsara can benefit your on-site operations? Get in touch with our team today to learn more or get a free trial.

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