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Mobile Command Vehicle - Solutions For Integrating Video?

 Our officers have a command vehicle that appears to have come with a couple axis cameras attached to a dvr. There are some axis decoders that i believe output video to a tv for situational viewing. 

Somewhere along the line I believe the dvr failed or was disconnected and someone placed a link directly to the cameras on the desktops of the onboard laptops. I hear many complaints every time the truck is deployed and the browser based viewing/control always seems to have a problem whether it be plugins or privileges etc. 

I'm trying to clean things up and provide a better solution and am looking for advice. The truck has a 4g router with a vpn tunnel back to "home base" where I have a data center and house our Genetec servers and storage among other resources.  

My first instinct is to add the cameras to Genetec as officers are already familiar with the interface and user management might be easier that way. I'm concerned about bandwidth and the flow of traffic when requesting video or what the experience might be like when/if connectivity is lost or questionable. 

 

I can see benefit in having the video available remotely while the truck is deployed and being able to go back and review video from a scene etc. 

 

any suggestions?

Replace dvr? mini genetec box federated? add to genetec as if they were "local" ? 

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Hello UE1

I do a lot of work in this type of arena with agencies whether cameras be a mobile command, portable or remote surveillance system.  I would split this into two different areas of focus: the video management and the communications.

Video Management:

I don’t have much direct experience with Genetec however we typically use other VMS (Milestone, IPConfigure, ViewCommander, etc) and I suspect the capabilities are similar.

Fundamentally when relying on unreliable connectivity for video I always recommend edge recording or buffering at a minimum.  This would be my baseline requirement as at a minimum local users need access and your agency is going to want records of the video for future review. The enterprise VMS platforms in my experience aren’t necessarily well suited to video that isn’t always connected to the network and needs to be later invested or added to the database.  If you are set in Genetec  I would look at some type of standalone server appliance running a version of Genetec that can hopefully run on its own but still provide access via your main centeralized servers if a path exists.  In Milestone this would be something like a slave server, federated sometimes requires synchronized connections that can be a problem if the unit goes offline. Also you’d need to look at ‘appliance’ based NVR units that can handle the mobile environment and hard start/stop upon lower loss.  We build our own devices for this type of application.

If you aren’t stuck on Genetec I can make further recommendations a couple of other approaches that are very user friendly and more suited to this type of environment.

 

Communications:

I would recommend a couple of approaches here.  

You could employ a generic bonded cellular solution (requires a field unit and a drop in unit in your network) to provide both more reliable connectivity, increase coverage, and bandwidth.  There are now some decent solutions from companies like pep link that are an investment but won’t break the bank.

You could implement a solution based LiveU or Wowza to bring video back in a more internally broadcasted manner.  This would provide a different type of bonding specifically built for video.  I know of agencies that do this today and it works very well.  In addition you can bring other feeds into the interface for remote viewing and recording in a portable scenario (say cell phone video) as well as feed Drone video into this type of solution.

Or you could stay with your current config but add a mobile VPN product like NetMotion which is designed specifically for your sporadic connection situation.  This would manage connections and ease the burden on servers and remote users trying to renegotiate WAN based connectivity continuously.

 

As you can see - a lot to work through here and we are happy to provide consulting or design work for this type of a project.  If interested or you'd like more detail please reach out to me.

 

Thanks!

Chris

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Good information Chris. Any of your customers participating in FirstNet? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6pd4zMBKccM&feature=youtu.be

 

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Not yet for anything high bandwidth like video. A number of the dedicated cell modems are still in a "FirstNet ready" mode so we're early on.  Some of my customers have however asked us to provide our portability solution for more generalized data/voip connections using FirstNet however.

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Let's assume the goal is to make this as functional for the officers in the Command Vehicle. If they are comfortable with Genetec (or any VMS client), you should work towards having them in a client experience that they can be effective with. As you mentioned, this will also have the benefit of user management/auditing/account control. Hopefully, that means no more sticky-note password notes.

If the solution is to add the cameras to Genetec, you have a few options.

  1. Standalone Genetec system in the Vehicle (Federated to primary Genetec)
  2. Genetec Archiver in the Vehicle that is connected to primary Genetec Directory
  3. Cameras connecting directly to existing central Genetec Archiver
  4. Cameras connected to Stratocast (Federated to primary Genetec)

With options 1 or 2 the cameras would stream to the local hardware, and then direct to the client PC in the vehicle, with no additional latency added by 4G or wireless connections, which could be critical for PTZ control. With Axis PTZs connected to Genetec, you can define 5 different stream qualities for a camera to the Archiver and Clients (they can be independent). If you want further bandwidth control, if officers in the vehicle used the Genetec web client, there are additional limits/controls there.

For option 2, Genetec offers an Archiver offload feature which can move video from the remote archiver to your central servers. I would recommend looking at this for data security/video retention safety purposes.

With option 3, connecting the cameras to an existing Archiver would result in less hardware, and save on buying an additional Genetec base license of option 1, however, I would not recommend this because they are then relying on, and dealing with wireless for critical/emergency video streaming.

Option 4 is another that I wouldn't recommend, but is technically feasible, and I mostly bring it up because Genetec may offer it as a solution. I would avoid this due to the reasons listed above.

Chris mentioned other key things to keep in mind including power considerations, UPS backup, and hardware that can stand the environmental abuse.

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Excellent information Sean!

I would add to this a reminder to the OP that offloading any significant amount of video to your centralized server over cellular is going to eat your data plan alive.  This is another good reason for bonded cell, which can make it more reasonable when aggregated.  None of this is to mention total bandwidth and the time involved for moving the video, depending on the total being generated by your cameras and their configurations.

Alternatively a wifi triggered offload, compression solution or physically transferring video storage drives would be preferable here - especially if you would be data capped or charged crazy overage fees.

 

Thanks

Chris

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