Which user interface is more important in today’s security world? Is the access control interface more important, or should the video management interface be the primary security view of the facility? What about integration?
Throughout the past few years, having access control “integrated” with the video management software (VMS) meant so many different things that there was seemingly no concrete expectation from customers. Since the advent of IP video surveillance, it seemed that the access control manufacturers had a stronghold on the user interface and that “integration” meant some form of a video clip coordinated by time with a respective access control event. It often looked like a small video clip beside a string of event text, inside the access control software. The thought was if there was an event, the end user could quickly go to that event and pull up the recorded video and review if it was indeed the correct individual, if the event was valid, or if there were multiple people involved in the event.
This scenario created several significant technical and user issues that resulted in a significant amount of frustration for the user. On the technical side, the access control software had to “grab” video data off of a separate VMS server and have the precise time coordinated, while providing enough video to analyze the event before it occurred and long enough after, to ensure that decisions could be made correctly. While this seemed easy, it often wasn’t.
Greater complexity actually came when the customers wanting this integration deployed it on larger numbers of doors, and the access control servers and software simply were not provisioned appropriately. Quite simply, video (and specifically HD video and the H.264 encoding) overwhelmed the access control servers and software. After all, access control was accustomed to small amounts of data transfer from credentials and rules, and IP video was sending several megabits of data for every event.
As a result, customers became pretty frustrated.
On the usability side, the features that the customer was accustomed to receiving from their VMS engine were not fully functional inside the access control engine, and did not provide any discernable enhancement of the security system overall. After all, if the desire was to create a single interface in the security system, while gaining live view and post-event review, then this integration fell well short of the goal.
In the last two years, however, there was a huge advancement with the Milestone XProtect Access Control Module in 2014, and the subsequent XProtect Access in 2016. With these, customers were able to solve nearly all of the problems in an integrated access control and video solution.
They also gained significant business advantages. With the access control being manageable from inside the Milestone VMS, the customer could see the active access control events, the cardholder’s file picture and in real time could determine if there were any inconsistencies with the presentation of a credential and the individual. The end user could then take immediate, informed action.
This integration truly created a better security experience by marrying the live events to a comprehensive database of recorded video and access events. It was able to do this in a superior, easy-to-use interface and did not require any additional hardware to accomplish the goal.
On the technical side, the processing power of the VMS servers was already sized appropriately to handle the overwhelmingly larger data files from the HD and multi-megapixel video, and the relatively small data from the access control system easily was handled and processed accordingly.
At ISONAS, we realized that this was truly a significant advantage with Milestone and quickly dedicated our resources to become the first Milestone Solution Partner to be certified for our integration using the XProtect Access control module. Upon its release, we were able to show customers a defined integration that solved the business problem they were looking to cure.
The XProtect Access plug-in also allowed our mutual customers to solve another major issue if having different access control platforms across their facilities. Similarly to how Milestone enables multiple camera manufacturers to be incorporated natively into their VMS open platform, the XProtect Access Manager allows an end user to move forward with a single Milestone software platform that integrates with multiple access control hardware solutions – at the same time.
In other words, customers are no longer trapped in a proprietary system. They are free to decide which access control to proceed with for their future, without the need for a complete “rip and replace” of their existing access control. At ISONAS, we were then able to stand out as a hardware and software solution, where customers can grow their systems one door at a time.
So, I believe the quandary has been solved. What product should be the main interface into the security solution: video or access control? With live information, recorded information, superior user interface, and very little compromise on features in either platform, I have to say:
Cheers, Milestone! Thank you for solving our mutual customers’ problems.