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Exclusive: Integrating surveillance systems seamlessly

Petr Tosner, sales program manager EMEA at Axis Communications, on enabling the seamless integration of surveillance systems across the system lifecycle

Every part of the surveillance system lifecycle – from the initial design through to implementation and configuration, as well as ongoing maintenance and end-of-life processes – need to be addressed by system integrators.

It’s essential to design the right system at the outset; one that fits the exact operational requirements and needs of a customer. Subsequent changes to design can not only be time consuming but can have significant costs attached.

Any surveillance system needs to be tailored for each customer to ensure it meets their needs and requirements – what works for one likely won’t work for another. Customers have unique demands for their security system, and certain parameters within which the solution must be designed, and so it is important to set individual camera configurations to meet the customer’s surveillance needs.

Through close collaboration, system integrators can explore individual customers’ use cases to ensure they understand their operational requirements. This often involves visiting the site and having open discussions with the end-customer. Online design tools allow system integrators to map out a customer’s building plans, and visually plan where security cameras or other surveillance technology from a surveillance vendor’s portfolio will be placed. Mapping out a design in this way enables customers to easily visualise the system and determine whether it will fulfil their requirements. 

Design tools can also be used to help customers determine the right products they’d like to incorporate into their surveillance system. These tools can filter down products, providing automated recommendations for the most suitable camera type for a use case. For instance, a customer may be looking for a camera that can be mounted on the ceiling, or one that is particularly suited to low-light conditions, or they might be searching for a device with built-in audio capabilities. With a camera selector, the end-user can easily select from a subset of products that fit their requirements, thereby simplifying the process and ensuring the customer has the most tailored experience.

This collaboration stage is not only crucial in that it ensures the customer has a proficient understanding of the surveillance system (which helps facilitate a smooth integration later down the line), but it also enables system integrators to really understand their customer’s needs – and so the surveillance system can be designed specifically to meet these.

Even with the most bespoke design at hand, installations can prove challenging for surveillance system integrators. Whether it’s pre-configurating hardware, assigning IP addresses, allocating resources, or the physical installation itself, the process requires careful management.

Design tools can ease the process here, as they can be used to create the configuration specification for the solution and output the installation instructions. This is crucial as automated, accurate configuration is key to seamless integration.

Relying on manual configuration is time consuming and also has the potential to result in errors. This not only impacts the integration process but also can have an adverse impact on a customer relationship if the installation is not seamless. By automatically importing all configurations from the online design tool deployed from the outset, system integrators can minimise the risk of errors occurring and can also complete the installation quickly. 

Accurate system installation is only one hurdle: testing full system operation in-situ is a core part of the integration process. Subsequently testing a system after installation with an on-site system verification tool is crucial to ensuring a smooth integration. For instance, it’s important to determine whether any surveillance system works accurately in different operational conditions. Customers will need to rely on their system in different lighting conditions, different noise levels, and so on, and so it is crucial to test these through on-site system verification. These tests can automatically determine whether the surveillance system is operating effectively and efficiently for the customer, and if any adjustments are required.

Verification tools automatically summarise the results of the tests conducted in a report which is to be shared with the end-customer for their record. The system configurations, camera selection and storage details are all saved in a report. This forms the basis for a system status follow-up and can be used for maintenance in future.

Having been tried and tested, the operations and management responsibility of the surveillance system will inevitably lie with the end-customer. By providing the customer with comprehensive training and documentation obtained through the verification tests, the end-customer should be well-equipped to maintain the system. 

As a result of close collaboration and automated processes, system integrators can ensure a seamless integration from design through to system implementation. 

This not only ensures the integration is faster and more accurate; but means the system is much more likely to perform as intended; maintenance is simplified and, ultimately, relationships between integrator and customer are strengthened in the long-term.