How are end users’ needs driving VMS development and deployment? Last year we posited that 2022 would be the year of the customer for VMS, where end users would more heavily dictate scalability, consistency and interface. In turn, this would push security dealers and integrators to proactively become familiar with video management software that can meet these requirements, ready to sell solutions that have high capability for integration and are easy to use.

At the manufacturer level, VMS developers overwhelmingly confirm that end users’ needs are shaping the way they are developing or iterating upon their VMS. Dean Drako, founder and CEO of Eagle Eye Networks in Austin, Texas, believes that innovation can’t happen in a vacuum.

“Collaboration fuels innovation,” he says. “Our resellers, customers and tech partners help us create even better solutions when they bring their problems to us. Together we produce solutions that will help them run their businesses more efficiently and make the world a safer place. That’s also why I believe an open system is best. We have to be able to easily and securely integrate with third-party technology partners. It’s how we provide infinitely scalable and customized security solutions.”


The UI for Dahua’s latest VMS, DSS 8, was influenced by user feedback. // IMAGE COURTESY OF DAHUA TECHNOLOGY USA

Innovations Based on End User Feedback

Shawn Benevides, program manager, video management at Axis Communications, Chelmsford, Mass., remarks that end user needs are a primary driver when they develop their VMS. “Some developments — based on end user feedback — that have been released include easier and more powerful search functionality through more sophisticated object and color classification, video redaction that offers the ability to privacy mask areas of video prior to export, and improvements to our system health monitoring,” he says.

Other manufacturers, such as Irvine, Calif.-based Dahua Technology USA and Bosch Security and Safety Systems in Fairport, N.Y., report that their VMS features and functions are shaped by end users’ need for more integrated, advanced analytics to increase automation.

How to Get Customer Feedback

Manufacturers who regularly seek customer feedback know how powerful research can be in building products that meet a need in the market.

Security dealers and integrators can use some of these research modalities to keep their finger on the pulse of their own customers’ wants and needs.

“We recently launched a usability program in which we sit down with customers to watch them use our software and work with operators and administrators to drive product enhancements,” says Sanjay Challa, Salient Systems. “We also create an aligned roadmap by holding quarterly reviews with our integrator base and using sales opportunities to acquire product feedback. Our company philosophy is that our success is the success of our customers and integrators, so it is important to engage and listen to both end users and integrators on a regular basis about what is and isn’t working.”

Customer feedback is incredibly valuable, stresses Laurent Villeneuve, Genetec. “We have many regional initiatives to connect with end users for innovation brainstorms/workshops, as well as industry focus groups. We want to encourage them to exchange [ideas] with their peers and inspire us to build better solutions. Sometimes, a newly developed capability will make its way onto the generally available offering because we see the same requirement shared across many customers.”

“In the past, end users might have been content with a specialty camera or two, such as ones with people counting or specific object detection,” says Damon Chou, product marketing manager at Dahua USA. “But now it’s not uncommon to desire a system with regular and analytic cameras along with access control or video doorbell systems for an integrated management solution that can better protect people and secure property,” he says.

“We aim to maximize security through seamless integration possibilities with the widest range of security domains and applications to add value at every touchpoint,” explains Michael Brewer, regional marketing manager at Bosch. “We believe the system should present all relevant information at the right time, via one, intuitive interface — irrespective of how many systems are integrated.”

Salient VMS

Enabling integrators to participate actively in monitoring, managing, and maintaining the VMS deployment eases the burden of customers having to manage large-scale deployments entirely on their own. Pictured: Salient Systems’ CompleteView VMS. // IMAGE COURTESY OF SALIENT SYSTEMS

Matt Mulham, marketing manager at Amityville, N.Y.’s Speco Technologies, says there is a rising need for access control integration. “With the impact of COVID-19 and increase in crime, access control installations have significantly increased,” he reports. “Realizing this, we integrated our access control line with our VMS instead of [making users have] multiple windows open to keep track of two different solutions. With this integration, VMS operators will be able to manage their access control users from the VMS platform, link door readers to channels, manually unlock or lock readers, record on access granted/denied events, and much more.”

From the security integrator perspective, Chris Gilbert, president and founder of Security Pros in Sellersburg, Ind., also sings the praises of more highly integrated systems. “We can do more to support the ever-changing client demand quickly and more efficiently through connected systems. This means cloud, of course, but localized and more traditional systems as well. I believe this will change the landscape of our business operation in the coming years, and we will see a more effective and specialized set of integrators emerge.”

The Future of VMS

We asked manufacturers what was on the horizon for video management software and how it will benefit end users. Here is what they had to say:

“Personal privacy is a rising topic surrounding video surveillance recording. In future VMS releases, users will have more options to remove the sensitive personal data that can be seen by operators in video footage. For example, a security director may choose to have each person blurred in a scene to ensure privacy when the system’s operators are viewing or exporting video.” – Michael Brewer, Bosch Security and Safety Systems

“There will be continual feature updates such as flexible AI options, compliance to ONVIF profiles, flexible storage options (including cloud storage), performance-driven client application, and end-to-end improvements that will ensure software and hardware consistency.” – Louis Rabenold, director of video management software products, Vicon Industries

“Two-factor authentication will take surveillance to new heights. If a face or a license plate are valid, the access control reader would power on to be scanned, ultimately granting access to the user. Suppose a resident of an apartment building dropped their fob outside and a stranger picks it up looking to gain access to the building. Without advanced analytics, they would be able to get in without any issue. With two-factor authentication and advanced analytics, the fob is useless since the stranger’s face is not recognized by the system and does not power on the reader.” – Matt Mulham, Speco Technologies

“Next-generation solutions will break silos that were created by separate on-premise and cloud capabilities: now converging into one, seamless solution that can scale to as many devices, sites and types of operations as we can imagine.” – Laurent Villeneuve, Genetec

Collaboration at the Integrator-Operator Level

When security operators ask integrators for scalability and consistency in their VMS, manufacturers recommend that integrators actively participate in managing large-scale VMS deployments.

“When the integrator and customer can work together, it makes it easier to scale and operate a VMS deployment,” says Sanjay Challa, chief product officer at Salient Systems, Austin, Texas. “Enabling integrators to participate actively in monitoring, managing, and maintaining the VMS deployment eases the burden of customers having to manage large-scale deployments entirely on their own. To make matters more complicated, IT is often reluctant to allow VPN access to integrators and is often burdened with other projects, [making it hard for them] to take full responsibility for maintaining the VMS. We provide secure firewall traversal through a call-home mechanism, allowing secure remote access for integrators without IT involvement.”

Security Pros

Security integrators like Security Pros are being called on to help maintain security for their customers’ operations. // IMAGE COURTESY OF SECURITY PROS

Gilbert attests, “Several of our national accounts have asked us to help them maintain security and consistency across their enterprise operation. While they understood the mission, they depended on us to deliver consistency, not only in the VMS and access control platforms but in the deployment and support operation as well.”

Brewer speaks to the importance of such reliability. “Dealers and integrators should consider reliability for consistent system uptime,” he says. “Systems should offer maximum resilience out of the box — providing live video and playback, regardless of the interruption. For example, even if the management and recording servers fail simultaneously, cameras should continue to record and stream live video.”

An obvious factor to consider for scalability is future expansion, Chou points out. “Do your due diligence on whether you foresee future expansion and choose the correct software from the very beginning of the project so you don’t run into ‘upgrading’ issues in the future.”

Villeneuve advises that end users are looking for simplicity and repeatability: “Opt for a VMS that works on multiple platforms (desktop, web, mobile) with an experience that changes based on location, roles and permissions, but delivers a similar look and feel, and does not require operators to jump between multiple, disparate systems.”

As savvy security operators are making greater demands of their security systems, dealers and manufacturers have risen to the challenge of incorporating their feedback into VMS development. This year has been “the year of the customer” for end users who asked for a greater degree of integration, better UIs, and more advanced analytics.