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Using Milestone Centralized Search for License Plate Recognition – XProtect 2020 R2 Release

Video surveillance teams often need to find specific video clips at a moment’s notice and Milestone’s new and improved XProtect Centralized Search framework makes that easier than ever. We will walk you through the basics to get you set up for success in using Milestone Centralized Search and then show you how to use it with our favorite use-case: license plate recognition.

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Milestone is always improving its features and functionality to make XProtect more user-friendly for VMS administrators. 

One of our favorite features that was recently introduced for XProtect in 2020 is the Milestone Centralized Search.

Replacing an older smart search functionality, the new Milestone Centralized Search records and searches metadata from various streams on the recording servers. 

In less boring terms, Milestone Centralized Search allows you to access more information from video streams (ie. video metadata) by using current recordings to enhance security or more quickly find incidents, thereby making it easier to protect your business and/or property.

Here are some examples of the types of metadata you can record and search:

  • GPS coordinates or a manually entered location
  • Information about the people (if any) in the video, as well as their gender, age, height, face, or other identifying characteristics
  • Whether there is a vehicle present in the video and the color, make, and model of the vehicle

In order to get the best use of the Milestone Centralized Search functionality, it’s vital that your video stream and video metadata be time-synchronized.

If you’re missing this crucial element, you might find yourself with metadata “events” connected to the incorrect times in the video stream

(ala the old dub overs of Bruce Lee’s voice).

There are a few easy ways to ensure your metadata is time-synchronized to the Milestone server and to your video streams. 

To start, make sure you’re using a Network Time Protocol (NTP) server. An NTP server can be a server on your network or a public time server in the cloud

If you are running XProtect in a Windows workgroup and have an all-in-one Milestone installation, follow these steps to turn your Milestone server into an NTP server.

This simple workaround will allow you to use Milestone Centralized Search without additional components. 

We will use PowerShell to make the Milestone server the authoritative NTP server for all of your cameras.

Use three PowerShell cmdlet:

Set-ItemProperty -Path "HKLM:\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\w32time\TimeProviders\NtpServer" -Name "Enabled" -Value 1
Set-ItemProperty -Path "HKLM:\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\services\W32Time\Config" -Name "AnnounceFlags" -Value 5
Restart-Service w32Time

Now configure NTP on your cameras and point them to the XProtect NVR and you are ready for search!

By default Milestone XProtect supports several ONVIF meta-data categories but they also support some third-party plugins (such Axis, Bosch, and Hanwha) for searching, which enables the search of almost any meta-data type.

Watch It In Action: Using XProtect Centralized Search for License Plate Recognition

License Plate Recognition - XProtect Centralized Search
Milestone Centralized Search - License Plate Recognition

The new XProtect Centralized Search feature has about as many useful applications as there are meta-data categories.

Imagine a robbery, the suspect fled in a silver car and a witness got a partial plate “GUY.”

With an Axis camera and an application made by FF-Group and this new functionality, you’d be able to quickly search hours of video for a vehicle with the partial plate of “GUY.”

You would then be able to find the plate of “BAD GUY” and take appropriate action.

There’s little competition for a better feature to save you time and stress in the times when you need it most.

Thanks again, Milestone!

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Learn more about XProtect Centralized Search and License Plate Recognition from Milestone Systems.

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