Making metadata work for you

Imagine walking into a library in search of a particular book, but not having access to a card catalog — actual or virtual — to search for that specific volume.  You could spend hours looking for the manuscript.

But if you have access to a card catalog, you can search by author, title or subject and then, via the Dewey Decimal System tag associated with that book, find it in a matter of minutes.

metadata in security systemsMetadata, which is often defined as data about data, or data about content, is what allows you to find that specific information. The book has been categorized on many levels, from more general author and title information to the number of pages, the publisher and the date it was published.

Video recordings also have the advantage of exploiting metadata. When video is recorded, there is a general file — a video that was recorded at XYZ Corp. That’s the data.  Breaking that down further through the metadata embedded in the image files can help those who are looking to retrieve specific video moments within that larger file.

The video is associated with a text-based database, making it searchable by words such as date, time or activity: Find the “blue car” “exiting” the “parking lot” in the video from “November 8.”

All the information that is part of the metadata can be applied to a video analytics system, making it easier, faster, and more accurate to search existing video or, more importantly, set up the analytics so it can respond proactively.

By specifying certain activities related to the metadata — always show when a vehicle enters the parking lot after business hours, or send an alert when someone opens a fire exit — the user experience is enhanced. No one has to spend time looking at live video, nor do they have to scan through hours of recorded images to find a key incident.

Through the use of metadata, whether employing cameras, DVRs or NVRs, searches are faster than ever as the systems pull from a database of information and can pinpoint the specific event. No longer is there the question of if you have downloaded enough of the video, or if you have missed part of the action.

Just like cataloging in the library, the proper use of metadata in a video surveillance and analytics system will allow easier searching by proper criteria, as well as distinguish dissimilar items and provide accurate location information. And that should give you more time to go to the library and pick up that new best-seller.


What are some of the unique things that you search for in your video footage, using your video management system? Let us know by leaving us a comment below.


Appliances: A new take on an old term

Whether it’s a washing machine, a food processor or a coffee maker, an appliance is intended to perform a pre-defined task — cleaning clothes, chopping vegetables, making your morning cup of Joe.

AppliancesLikewise, appliances in the high-tech security world are those devices that are dedicated to executing specific operations without being bogged down by dealing with non-essential tasks. After all, you wouldn’t want your washer to also brew the coffee or prepare a smoothie.

Still, in the video management world, the primary option presented to customers is to buy a computer or a server, which can and does perform many functions, and install video management software on it. This computer, which likely uses a Windows operating system, is also churning through all the activities related to running, updating and managing that OS, taking functionality away from its primary focus — video management — and channeling it into other operations. Additionally, it is vulnerable to the myriad viruses and bugs that come with a standard operating system.

But in an appliance-based scenario, there is no external operating system. So while you can’t play Angry Birds or check your Facebook status on your new NVR, you’re also more secure and likely to achieve higher performance levels from this task-focused machine. That can be a boon to the customer who now can invest in fewer NVRs to accomplish the necessary surveillance and recording jobs.

Creating an appliance can be done with new or existing hardware, and neither needs to be the latest model since there are no operating system requirements. Other advantages to going the appliance route is not having to worry about OS upgrades or the burden of becoming an OS-certified technician as the operating system middleman is eliminated. Everything needed to run the system becomes embedded in the off-the-shelf computer/server.

And for the IT department, which is increasingly meshing with the security sector, working with appliances is familiar territory.  They already are comfortable with appliances such as routers and switches, so adding a security appliance to the mix isn’t out of their comfort zone.

We can all imagine the quality that would result from the washer-coffeemaker combo.  For that same reason, using dedicated appliances in the security field is an effective tool to streamlining video management and ensuring that the process is as efficient as possible.


Are there other ways you have streamlined your video management processes? Let us know by leaving a comment below.