Compatibility is Critical: A Look at IP Camera-to-VMS Integration

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In recent years, Video Surveillance Systems have evolved from analog-based solutions to IP-based solutions using IP cameras and a Video Management System (VMS). Whether deploying entirely new IP-based systems, expanding existing systems with new IP cameras, or upgrading the VMS software to obtain new functionality, the compatibility between the IP camera and the VMS has become a critical component.

IP cameras with megapixel resolution and advanced capabilities such as analytics, varying and low light level compensation, motion detection and edge recording require firmware which runs on the cameras. Such complex functionality in cameras has made it more essential than ever when deploying IP-based video surveillance solutions to verify compatibility, and, in many cases, test in advance of field deployment to ensure that all applicable functions are working between the firmware of the cameras and the current version of the VMS.

Failure to verify camera-to-VMS compatibility can have far-reaching and costly consequences. Adverse effects may include erratic system behavior, limited to no functionality, or, in the worst case scenario, having to replace recently installed cameras with compatible versions. Advance testing and verification help avoid both frustration and expense.

Manufacturers and representatives in the security industry are striving to arrive at a standard method and protocol with which the cameras integrate with the VMS. The Open Network Video Interface Forum (ONVIF) is a leader in this approach. However, versions of the standard are evolving and the specifics of how manufacturers adopt or conform to the standard may vary. Adding to the confusion, VMS providers are tasked with keeping track of the myriad IP cameras available in the marketplace, as well as with the constant evolution of the cameras’ capabilities, and ultimately, the firmware versions running on the cameras. For example, a VMS provider may test and, verify a particular camera running a specified version of firmware only to find that, by the time the camera ships or is actually deployed, it is running either a newer or older version of firmware.

With rapid advances in technology and the manufacturers’ frenzy to keep up, the burden falls on the integrator. Until a truly universal standard is achieved, it remains the job of the integrator to test and verify camera-to-VMS compatibility and to make appropriate upgrades or downgrades to the firmware version on the cameras or the VMS version. The verification of this compatibility prior to field deployment ensures a more efficient and effective system deployment and, ultimately, a satisfied client experience.

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