Proactive system health monitoring delivers unprecedented manageability

One of the many values that MultiSight provides is manageability.  To us, manageability means the ability to keep stores online at all times, even if a customer has hundreds of sites with thousands of cameras and recorders.  Our MultiSight Gateway is designed with manageability in mind, and system health monitoring is an important part of that.

With other camera systems or digital video recorders (DVRs), the equipment might quietly malfunction or be otherwise disabled without anybody noticing until some time has elapsed and somebody attempts to access the video.  By then it may be too late.

When we designed MultiSight, we knew it needed to be reliable and quick to access, in order to be practical for operational usage--augmenting or replacing a visit to the store. Retail managers need to spend their time and energy managing operations at their stores, not trying to figure out why they can't get access to video.  If remote spotchecking of stores is to be a daily practice, a manager needs to be able to pull a mobile device out of his pocket, click a button, and see the store's video. If the video is not there when he looks for it, that manager will be less likely to try again in the future -- and much less likely to rely on MultiSight as a vital tool in his operations management toolbox.

Enter MultiSight proactive system health monitoring.  On a periodic basis, we collect health and status information from the MultiSight Gateway and the cameras installed in each store.  This information is transmitted to our cloud based servers, where it is logged, and then aggregated for display on a dashboard.  We use this dashboard, the first tab in our Administration website, to continuously monitor the health of all the equipment connected to our service.  What’s more, we make this information available to our customers through a simplified dashboard.

MultiSight Health Dashboard

The MultiSight Administration dashboard provides a collection of useful status information to the customer:

  • Connectivity from the site to our services.  A MultiSight recorder will continue to record video and other data locally even if the site’s Internet connection is down.  But we carefully monitor the connection from the site to ensure that remote users can always access the store's video.  If a store is completely out of communication with our servers due to a network outage at the store, we display this information on the MultiSight Administration dashboard.  The issue is visible both to the customer administrator and to our support center, who works proactively to restore the site to operation.
  • Camera online status.  If a camera goes offline, this information will appear both in the Administration dashboard and in the Spotchecker (our viewing app), so that viewers will know why a camera is unavailable to stream.
  • Camera-specific health data points.  Data points include connectivity to the camera from the recorder, DVR remote viewer messaging queries, how many times in the last 24 hours a ‘reconnect’ occurred between the recorder and the camera, how much network packet loss might have occurred from a certain camera, the health of the camera’s internal software, etc.  Sometimes we can even detect certain kinds of cabling problems by assessing the camera’s health information.

Learn more about MultiSight hardware

More detailed information is available to the MultiSight support and service staff:

  • Health of internal software services on the MultiSight Gateway.  If a software component is misbehaving, it will show up on our dashboard.  This is an indicator that the MultiSight staff needs to respond to the issue and return the system to normal operation.
  • How many users are streaming from the store's Gateway and how much bandwidth is being used.  These two data points can help us understand exactly how much bandwidth MultiSight is using at a customer’s store, and assure them it is below their pre-established thresholds.
  • Errors.  Errors from the MultiSight gateway are logged to our servers, and an excessive error count is indicated on our dashboard.  We are even able to analyze hard disk drive S.M.A.R.T. data to proactively identify recorders that may fail in the future, and schedule a service call to replace them before they do so.

We instrumented the MultiSight in-store equipment to provide the most manageable system we could imagine.  Today we provide a durable, reliable service thanks to this manageability--giving you consistent and timely access to insights from your stores.

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About the Author

Steve Mitchell

Steve Mitchell

I'm the engineering director at MultiSight responsible for software development, hardware oversight and technical operations. I've been with Schneider Electric/Pelco since 2004. Email Steve Mitchell.

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