Surveillance Search Shootout

Author: Sarit Williams, Published on Oct 14, 2013

Searching for video is the most important function for many VMS users. While they may not have the time or interest to watch video live regularly, whenever an issue arises, they want to be able to quickly and accurately find the issue of interest.

In this report, we share our test results of using search capabilities for Avigilon, Exacq, Genetec, Milestone, Network Optix/DW and VideoInsight, as highlighted in the image below:

Key Differentiators

Searching revealed a number of important differentiators that separated the 'best' from the 'worst' in VMS searching, including:

  • Motion Search Speed / Pre-Indexing: Some VMSes were lighting quick in returning results while others took minutes even for searching a day's worth of video.
  • Thumbnail Capabilties: While most every VMS now has some form of thumbnails, the sophistication and power differed dramatically amongst VMSes.
  • Buffering: Some VMSes made the user wait while video was queued up while others played back instantly.
  • On a secondary level, differences in various UI controls / functions available, strengthened or weakened the VMSes.

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Key ***************

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Manufacturer ***************

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  • ***** ******* ******* *.*.**.*

Comments (8)

Sarit, from your findings and based on a previous report you did on the installation size of different VMS software and components in a previous report, would you say there is a correlation between how big the program installations are and/or the number of dependancies it uses versus it's playback performance and overall responsiveness?

Hi Luis,

No I wouldn't. The size of the install package is not indicative of search performance or overall performance. For example: Network Optix/DW and Exacq are similar in size, both use SQLite, include all prerequisites and were 2 of the smallest install packages. But as you can see in this report Network Optix/DW was much faster for searching and playback than Exacq.

Our #1 issue is remote search. Sometimes we want answers without a two-hour round trip. Our ADT system is adequate when on site, but despite advertisement, manuals, and tech support claims to the contrary, remote extraction has never functioned, even with direct tech support "assistance."

What I would hope is, each of these VMSs remote operation is indistinguishable from local operation, except for latency and throughput limits associated with external bandwidth limitations. Often our expectations are not met. What's your experience?

P.S. Why incognito? Although signs are posted on site, I feel it's best to avoid association of surveillance with the retail business. It's not our core competency, and anyone can raise a flag and adversely affect retail.

I wonder how many searches are "hey, what was that" based that ExacqReplay covers vs. "Something happened yesterday, let's find it" searches?

Hi John, we covered searching from the live view in the VMS live video shootout report (see the Instant Replay section of that).

Overall, I suspect there are more 'what happened yesterday' searches simply because overall most don't watch video live. However, a sizeable minority watch video live a lot and for them, I am sure instant replay is quite important.

Here's the complete section of Instant Replay from the Live Video Shootout:

Instant Replay

Sometimes, replaying the last few seconds or minutes of a camera's view is necessary for a speedy recap of an event. We identified how that's done from within each live view without having to access archived video. Other than timeline UI similarity in Avigilon, Genetec and OnSSI, each VMS implemented different variations. There are 4 ways to access replay mode:

  • Via pop-up: Exacq and Video Insight - With Exacq, a right click will allow either a layout (all cameras in the view) or a single camera replay to be accessed, though it does appear as a pop-up (which can be minimized or moved to another screen). Moreover, the replay times are 5 and 30 seconds plus 1, 5 and15 minutes. Video Insight offers a single camera's 30 second default pop-up that cannot be minimized, but can be moved to another screen. If viewing more than one camera, it requires the user to set client options (and specify the camera count:1/4/9). The layout will appear with the synchronized timeline at the bottom with no way of doing a single pane playback or hiding it to go back to just a live view- convoluted and inflexible)
  • Timeline View: Genetec, Milestone and Network Optix - Genetec and Milestone allow for both a single camera replay or all cameras within the view (timeline within each pane of a layout or a larger timeline below for all cameras in view to show a synchronized view) so a user may watch both live and replay at the same time. Network Optix provides a timeline bar in the live view that allows simple and immediate playback without having to right click or select a specific time interval. This is quicker to do than most alternatives but comes with a visibly scrolling timeline which can be distracting.
  • Both: Avigilon offers a 30/60/90 second individual, or multiple cameras replay without pop-ups not obstructing other, live, cameras.
  • Via Archives: OnSSI allows for both an individual step back (1 frame at a time or hold down for reverse within a pane)or click Browse option to view a timeline history for all cameras in view-no predefined replay timeframes.

This video shows instant replay options in action:

This may have been in the videos, or maybe I just missed it in the write up, but I am curious how do most of the systems handle switching from video on one camera, to video on the next camera while an event moves across a system? Not using many multiple tiles, can you drag a camera from the tree and drop it onto a tile youre currently viewing, does it start playing the video from the camera at that specific time? Often times for us and our customers we know what camera a "situation" started at or ended at, but you need to go back through other cameras to see the situation unfold; but you don't know ahead of time what cameras you'll need up front, and it doesnt make sense to open 8 cameras worth of video up front if the person is never going to cross any of those cameras field of view.

I like how Genetec handles this with the Visual Tracking feature; giving you a shortcut link on the camera that you can click on to bring up the next camera, at the next correct time without having to pick that camera out of a list, or having to use multiple tiles.

Sean, Sarit will answer your specific question.

I did want to mention that we plan to be covering the Visual tracking feature as part of our upcoming mapping shootout. Here's our discussion on what to test including comments on Milestone's alternative.

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