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Specialist IP Camera Store Since 2004 - Supply, Install, Support

 

A network camera is a camera that can be connected to an IP network. It is therefore also, interchangeably, called an IP camera. Like all IP devices on an IP network a network camera is IP addressable and needs to be assigned an IP address to be accessible via the network that it is on.

This makes it possible to view a network camera from anywhere, locally as well as remotely and on-the-go via a smartphone.

Similarly, a network camera can also send video images from anywhere to anywhere, and it can send alerts to computers and smartphones to warn about intrusions or unwanted events. Also, video captured by a network camera can be stored anywhere, including on the camera itself using an SD card, or on a recorder, computer or server connected to the network, locally or remotely, or indeed the camera footage can be stored in the cloud.

Whereas in the past a network camera would just capture and distribute video images, today's network cameras are increasingly becoming powerful processing units that enable AI-driven video analytics on the camera, meaning that cameras can recognise objects and scenarios without human involvement, and as such, can warm about certain threat events or situations.

To find out about the types of network cameras we offer please see our IP camera range.

 

Video management is the umbrella term used for software and hardware products that are designed for handling the video data it receives from IP cameras. Its core functions include live video display, camera control, video recording and storage, video search, retrieval and playback. Most video management systems have configurable on-screen camera layouts, user management features and can be accessed locally, remotely and via smart devices with all key features at the user’s fingertips.

Beyond its core functionality video management systems may also offer RAID configurations, back up storage (hot or cold), multi-site installation, centralised management, hybrid installations, intelligent video analytics and forensic search capabilities.

Video management products typically include:

Be aware that some video management products may be open platform, offering wide and deep camera support for maximum flexibility and scalability, whilst other products may be less open or end-to-end only. Contact us if you need advice.

 

Video management software, generally known in the industry as VMS, are software products designed for installation on, predominantly, Windows-based servers or computers. With video management software installed a server or computer will effectively become a video recording and video management device, handling the video streams incoming from the cameras, record and store the video data, enabling the user access to live and recorded footage and execute tasks such as evidence search, playback and video export for investigative purposes and evidence gathering. In day to day language the combination of IP cameras and video management software installed on a server, or computer, is generally referred to as an IP-based CCTV system.

Beyond core functionality video management software platforms tend to offer a host of additional features that enhance the usability and effectiveness of the ‘CCTV system’ as a whole. So VMS products can offer multi-site installation with central system management, granular user access authorisation for close data protection controls, data back-ups, and an ever-increasing AI-driven intelligent feature-set enabling the system to warn you pro-actively about safety concerns, security breaches and threat situations.

Video management software platforms generally are easily scalable, allowing for cameras to be added as your business grows. Available software updates enable you to keep your system up-to-date and protected against cyber risks.

Be aware that on one hand there are ‘open platform' video management softwares that offer flexibility and allow many different camera makes and models to be used on the system. On the other hand there are VMS products that are less open or fully 'end-to-end', which tend to be the VMS products offered by the camera manufacturers.

We offer one of the world's leading open platform video management softwares called Milestone XProtect and we also offer end-to-end VMS products for customers who prefer a single vendor solution.

Find out more about the VMS products we offer.

 

A network video recorder, also commonly called an NVR, is a video recording and management device that is connected to an IP network (also referred to as a computer network).

The core functionality of an NVR is to take in the video streams from IP security cameras that are connected to the network. As the central device in the camera system it gives users access (locally, remotely or via mobiles) to the live cameras, handles recording and storage of CCTV footage, and facilitates for users to find video evidence. It enables playback and saving of the required video data for investigations and evidence gathering. These days NVRs tend to be made up of a server with embedded recording software, allowing for easy installation and a low maintenance requirement over time.

In addition to its core functions, NVRs are increasingly benefitting from more advanced features, including the use of intelligent video analytics. Combined with IP cameras of the same brand, NVRs can offer powerful AI-driven video analytics that can help with the recognition and detection of safety concerns, security breaches and potential threat situations. It can pro-actively warn of such scenarios so that humans can intervene and respond to a situation in good time. Furthermore, it can also enable 'forensic search' which allows operators to search video data on specific details, making finding the required footage much easier and quicker, regardless of the amount of data stored in the system. This means that investigations can be conducted quickly, even whilst an event is still unfolding, so that swift intervention can be coordinated.

NVRs come with a pre-determined, maximum number of channels, so it is important to estimate how many cameras eventually may be added on the system. Although some NVRs can be added together to form one system, it does not tend to be a cost attractive method of expanding a system over time. Initial system design and planning is therefore recommended.

We have a select portfolio of NVRs from a number of leading CCTV manufacturers. Find out more about the NVRs we offer.

 

Cloud CCTV is a generic term we use for cloud-based platforms that enable video management. There is currently no single, industry-wide adopted word or phrase that is used for cloud-based video management systems. Others may use phrases such as Cloud VMS, Video Surveillance as Service (VSaaS), or cloud security systems.

It is important to recognise that the Cloud CCTV market is a fragmented, fast-growing market, with many offerings that can differ significantly in terms of openness, compatibility, system set up, cybersecurity, system features, costs, and contract terms and conditions. Therefore, it is recommended to act with care and be well-informed when deciding on a cloud CCTV system. Contact us for advice if you need help.

At its core a Cloud CCTV platform takes in the video streams from IP cameras assigned to your cloud account. You can then simply access the live cameras as well as recorded footage by logging into your cloud account and take control from there.

In general, the pros and cons of a Cloud CCTV platform can be summarised as follows:

Pros:

  • Very easy to get set up and started
  • Very low to no maintenance as all updates are made by the cloud platform provider
  • Good cybersecurity (but not always)
  • No initial capital expenditure (though not always), but cost spread over time, and pay for what you use
  • Easy to scale up and add cameras (to a point, and providing you have the local upload bandwidth capacity required)
  • Ability to centralise the CCTV management in multi-site businesses in a neat and simple manner
  • Access to additional video analytics capabilities (with some platforms)

Cons:

  • Cloud storage can be relatively expensive (but cost-effective cloud set ups are available)
  • Limited to a small number of cameras on a site, depending on upload bandwidth capacity available. (Currently in the UK, a typical cloud-based CCTV system would not exceed much more than ten cameras on a site)
  • Cloud CCTV platforms are a different paradigm from network video recorders (NVRs) and video management software (VMS) and will require for users to accept a different user experience

Cloud CCTV systems are typically best suited to smaller systems, say up to ten cameras, and can be a particularly good fit for business with multiple small sites who have a need to monitor and maintain CCTV control across the business. This can be achieved via a simple, always available login, for the responsible, authorised managers.

Find out more and see our Cloud CCTV offering.

 

Video Analytics in camera systems are part of the wider AI evolution that has been ongoing in the big tech industry.

In simple terms, video analytics are AI-based algorithms that have been pre-trained on image data sets. As a result, these video analytics algorithms can recognise objects, behaviour, colour, patterns and scenarios that it has been exposed to during training. The training of a video analytics algorithm is done by the creator of the algorithm. When the algorithms are made available in a camera system, the system will be enabled to deliver the benefits of being able 'to recognise'.

It is important to note that video analytics algorithms can be deployed in different parts of a CCTV system. The algorithm may be installed on the cameras itself (also called edge-based analytics), it be may be on the server running the video management software (referred to as server-based analytics), it may be available within a network video recorder (NVR-based analytics), or the algorithm may be deployed in the cloud (cloud-based analytics).

The benefits of CCTV systems now being able 'to recognise' is a real game changer. Examples are to accurately and reliably detect humans and vehicles, and classify them, without receiving any false alerts from environmental noise within a scene. Systems with video analytics can now alert based on anomalies and patterns, and as such raise awareness of a situation that may be unfolding and may need intervention before it is too late. Video analytics also enable forensic searches in stored video data, by using specific search details the operator will find the required video evidence much faster, even whilst the event may still be unfolding so that immediate intervention may be coordinated. Video analytics can also be used to automate systems, and trigger a set of actions when a certain condition or situation has been recognised. Overall, the main benefit of video analytics is that it enables us to create safer environments and more efficient businesses.

For video analytics to work well and deliver those benefits care needs to be taken at the system design and planning stage. There are compatibility and interoperability aspects to be taken into consideration, as well as long-term support availability. There is also some overpromising marketing material from manufacturers, so it is recommended to check or take advice before you buy.

Contact us for advice.

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