High activity took place at the Milestone development labs as 2014 came around the corner. The company’s teams of dedicated driver developers worked diligently with our manufacturer alliance partners to provide comprehensive support of more cameras and encoders than ever. The goal: to achieve XProtect® video management software interoperability with 3,000 network camera models as of Device Pack 7.2.
Traditionally, network camera manufacturers have only provided proprietary interfaces – limiting the ability of a security system to work only with their own models and video management software (VMS). Some standards like MJPEG and H.264 exist already for compression and streaming of video data, but basic interfaces for setting video quality via frame rates, network criteria, and PTZ control of the cameras have been different and unique for each vendor’s hardware.
Milestone Systems spearheaded open platform IP video surveillance, over the past 15 years growing to provide the ability to manage cameras from more than 100 manufacturers worldwide. Customers could now mix and match the hardware of choice as needs require. No one vendor can always come up with the latest and greatest innovations, so being able to take advantage of new technology – no matter who develops it – means valuable flexibility with the freedom to choose.
The more recent definition and adoption of IP camera standards in the security industry is recognized to be a significant factor for the continued growth of IP video because it can reduce the complexity and cost of IP surveillance installations. With the availability of ONVIF and PSIA standards, these basic levels of integration between hardware and software make it easier to implement IP video. Hardware manufacturers, software providers and installers can now focus on other product developments and services that add value for customers.
Milestone Systems actively supports ONVIF and PSIA and welcomes standardization initiatives. However, these standards are generic by nature, as it takes some time for new features to be integrated into the standard. This negates the ongoing tendency for the camera manufacturers to make ‘smart-cams’ or cameras with integrated intelligence enabling downloadable camera apps (which gives the ability to configure dynamic systems with changing functionality according to current needs).
Furthermore, there are situations where ONVIF might not be ideal. ONVIF is an XML-based protocol, meaning that clear text is used to describe the data content. This administrative text is an essential part of the protocol and has to be present in the data stream. This means that the data payload will be limited to the capacity left after the administrative data has been sent. In networks with low bandwidth, this administrative overhead can influence the video quality negatively. An example is when IP cameras are connected using GSM networks.
The full capacities of a specific camera model, with features not covered by ONVIF or PSIA, can only be unlocked by using an optimized driver. This is what Milestone calls dedicated, ‘deep’ support of a camera. When we state that a camera is supported, it means that we have programmed an optimized driver that enables all the relevant capacities of a camera or other hardware device so it can be managed fully with our software. Milestone works closely with the device manufacturers to achieve the optimal interaction between their devices and our driver software. This ensures the highest quality for a video surveillance solution – very important for total system operability, efficiency and stability.
Milestone has worked constantly for more than 15 years to support the largest number of network hardware manufacturers as a basic tenet of our open platform mission. Milestone Partners have come to expect and depend on the deepest integration and support from XProtect IP video management software.
Milestone Systems’ engineers and programmers code and test extensively to confirm the interoperability of the thousands of cameras for XProtect viewing, recording and management functionality. Each new Device Pack announces which new brands of camera and encoder models have been added to the list of Milestone supported hardware – a list of 3,000!
We were excited to celebrate achieving the supported device number 3,000 at the end of February 2014. It is proof of continued demand for open platform IP video surveillance software and the power it provides through the freedom to choose.