Achieve Unlimited Integration Possibilities with Open Architecture

In an interactive webinar presentation, Monica Marcos, marketing and sales specialist for Safety Vision, compares proprietary VMS solutions with open platforms, and the associated risks and benefits of investing in these video surveillance systems.

What is proprietary software?

Proprietary software is often referred to as closed software. It is a piece of computer software owned by the company that developed it. Then, it is licensed to the end user under exclusive legal copyright. The intention behind proprietary software is that the end user is provided with the right to use the software while simultaneously being restricted from other uses, such as making modifications.

How does dependency on proprietary software affect capabilities?

When it comes to new technologies, customers of proprietary VMS are essentially at the whim of where their software supplier wants to take them. You are reliant on them for all updates, identifying problems, and bug fixes. Updates may be slow in coming, depending on the size of the development team. It may take some time to address security holes or other problems. The complicated coding of proprietary software often makes it difficult to adapt to changes in the marketplace. To change vendors once their software has become embedded within your agency is likely to be prohibitively expensive. Making a commitment to proprietary technology can be a costly decision.

How might limitations with integration prevent the advancement of technology in your company?

Proprietary VMS maintains a tight control of their product road map. They are specifically designed and fine-tuned solutions that would work only with their cameras and/or recorders. What you see is what you get. There’s no room for inter-operability. With proprietary, the system is not created for your unique needs, but generalized to meet the needs of all the vendor’s clients.

Proprietary VMS are closed coded, with the vendor being the only ones with access to the source code. Integration is restricted because you are locked into a closed system. With a closed system, you lose the freedom of choice.

What does it mean to have an “operator overload”?

When working with two, three, or more security applications from multiple vendors, user effectiveness quickly becomes constrained. At the extreme, it means dealing with over half a dozen monitoring and management applications. Operators and administrators are easily overwhelmed by having to use and learn multiple different software applications, as well as the amount of knowledge they need to perform their work.  When you add maintenance of all those applications and upgrades over time to the equation, it is easy to see how your security and IT teams can become overloaded.

Listen to the webinar!

“Achieve Unlimited Integration Possibilities with Open Architecture”

Monica Marcos explains the benefits of integrating your video surveillance system with other security applications, as well as the importance of open architecture to the future of your business/agency.

Available now at

How do access control systems in proprietary software create problems for those
managing them?

Access control generate alarms such as invalid badges, door forced, and door help events. Those events need to be investigated, but the task of doing so with a standalone surveillance system is painful. Receive an alarm on one system, and your operator must move to another completely different system to investigate. This surveillance system has a different user interface, so the user must switch gears. Then, which camera do you call up to view the scene? An experienced operator will know, but the experience costs you a lot in terms of training.

What is open architecture?

Open architecture is a type of software architecture that is designed to make adding, upgrading, and swapping components easy. It allows you to customize your video surveillance system and integrate applications for extra features. The promise of open architecture is to break down the barriers between different systems and allow data to be easily pooled into one central location. In other words, it is a unified security platform.

What is the difference between ‘closed architecture’ and ‘open architecture’?

Closed architecture limits you to what you can do, while open architecture does the opposite. It unchains you from one particular platform, giving you unlimited options and the ability to keep adding new systems as technologies keep evolving. Open architecture is endless.

How does open architecture work?

An SDK, otherwise known as a software development kit, is the programming tool that allows developers to easily develop integration. It includes all the sample codes that facilitate the development. Open architecture means it has a published application interface, or an API. This allows developers to alter the functionality of the VMS. By adding an application program interface (API) to the SDK,  it enables technology partners to integrate witth other systems like access control, video analytics, license plate recognition, and much more. This source code is open and available, allowing it to be accessed and modified by third parties.

How are customizations made?

It’s just a matter of tweaking the open source code to modify and upgrade the VMS so that it perfectly tailors to your organization’s objectives. There are several types of third party integration. At the top of most users’ VMS wish list is the ability to integrate video and a host of other systems. Through open architecture, you can augment with third party integrations that suit your business. Your security grows with your organization. You can create the exact system your business needs.

What types of customizations can be incorporated?

Access control, facial recognition, fire detection, license plate recognition, intrusion and perimeter detection, privacy protection, the list is endless. It just keeps going and going. Video analytics, video wall, 3D imaging, mobile alerts, touch screen technology. The list is limitless.

What advantages are there to unifying video surveillance?

When you unify video surveillance with other security applications, you can achieve greater security. It provides transportation agencies with a view of their entire operations alongside effective response tools, which helps operators quickly address incidents before they escalate into costly terminal shutdowns. With the ability to unify your video surveillance with your other security systems, you can seamlessly control all operations by addressing multiple needs behind a single intuitive interface.

How might users be affected when switching to a unified security platform?

you’ll be providing users with the power to instantly react and rapidly respond to emerging situations. A unified system not only provides greater control, it can also help you avoid the pitfalls of traditional security systems, such as limited connectivity between various applications, compatibility issues, and complicated and costly maintenance.

How are you able to expand your system with
open architecture?

You have the ability to use products from different manufacturers. Having the option to incorporate the latest advancements in technology into your system provides more flexibility and the added assurance that your investment, for the most part, is future-proof. Instead of being tied to one company’s product offerings, the open platform gives you the ability to take advantage of an entire industry’s innovation, which is increasing the value of your surveillance system.

You have the freedom to add new technologies as they are developed, allowing you to continually update and improve your security system. It also helps lengthen the life of your surveillance system and avoid the need to replace them every now and then.

What is the user experience like with
open architecture?

A single user interface for multiple security applications allows operators to easily and efficiently move from one security task to another, all within the same interface, thus avoiding complicated workflows and interface manipulations to reach the required window. The users’ workflows are consistent between the video and access control.

Users are also only required to be trained on a single system. Therefore, they don’t waste time switching to different applications or work stations as everything can be done in a single and coherent user interface.

What kind of work flow does open architecture create?

Mobile video no longer needs to be isolated. You can seamlessly manage all your fixed and onboard systems under one single video platform, allowing you to monitor from terminal to fleet. That will get you a complete view of what is happening throughout your entire mass transit operation. All terminal and vehicle systems are managed from one virtual platform with pre-programmed alarm notifications, detailed emergency procedures, mobile viewing capabilities, and so much more.

How does open architecture play out in emergency situations onboard?

In an emergency, operators do not have to wait for the bus to reach the station to address the situation or conduct forensic video investigations. They have access to the video at their fingertips and they can share that information or live feeds with responders. They are better prepared to handle the event or prevent even greater risk for passengers and staff.

What should you consider when deciding whether to purchase an open architecture system? What situations are best for open architecture?

If you appreciate a product’s flexible functionality and adaptability to the varying needs of a business, consider embracing an open architecture system. Open source software provides a large amount of flexibility and freedom to change the software without restriction. You’re not held to some company’s vision, which is most often driven by profit rather than what is necessarily best for the industry or your company. Open source is constantly updated. It doesn’t deteriorate in quality as time goes by, which often happens with proprietary software.

What should you consider when thinking of the cost of a surveillance system?

When implementing a surveillance system, there are necessary expenses related to hardware, therefore due consideration should be paid to whether you want to commit purely to one manufacturer as you would with a proprietary system. Tying your organization’s surveillance system to one vendor can be a very good decision, but then on the other side of the coin, should you at some point for whatever reason become dissatisfied with your supplier, by choosing an open architecture system, you will be able to switch your software vendor while still enjoying the continued use of your existing surveillance infrastructure.

Tell us about your next generation RoadRecorder 8000.

The RoadRecorder 8000 is a network video recording server with open architecture. It has an open VMS platform that allows seamless integration with any VMS platform, and you can have video from all of your onboard and stationary surveillance cameras unified all in one application, as well as an endless amount of other security and business applications.

What other capabilities does the RoadRecorder
8000 include?

This is an IP solution, so it is full high definition recording. For your onboard systems, you have up to four terabytes of solid-state storage. You also have internal fail-over storage. If your agency consists of light rail applications, this is EN50155 certified for compliance for rolling stock and rail application. It has eight M12 connectors for functional reliability in rail environments. These eight M12 PoE ports can support up to 36 IP cameras. We also have up to 16 customizable inputs and outputs to integrate a variety of equipment. This has a built-in relay which powers your external devices, such as modems or PoE switches, as well as wireless and cellular networking capabilities.

What is the history of Safety Vision?

For over 25 years, we have had a great deal of success in outfitting and supporting both small and large transit authorities nationwide. Our expertise is grounded in our history and thorough understanding of video technology application across the entire mobile landscape.