Integration of IP cameras and the Digifort IP surveillance system into Reliance SCADA

January 28, 2019 | Reliance SCADA

An IP camera, or netcam, is a type of digital video camera that sends or receives data (video) via a computer network. So, the difference between IP cameras and analog closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras is obvious as well as the benefits resulting from it. IP cameras are often compared to webcams. Here, it is worth mentioning that the fundamental difference lies in the fact that an IP camera works autonomously. It is connected to a computer network and accessible through its IP address, providing data (video) to one or multiple clients at a time. A webcam is generally connected by a USB cable to a computer (or it is part of a laptop or monitor) and data is only provided to this computer. Its possibilities are therefore limited. Today, IP cameras are used for monitoring designated spaces (business premises, private lands, production lines, etc.).

The first types of IP cameras connected to the Reliance SCADA system were those manufactured by Axis Communications and VIVOTEK Inc. We used their native drivers, which allow utilizing all the features of IP cameras. Later, we added support for cameras from Pelco by Schneider Electric. We realized that there were hundreds of manufacturers and thousands of camera models worldwide and that it was not within our power to develop drivers allowing integrating all of these models. Soon after that, we fortunately decided to choose Digifort as a solution. Below you will find how to connect to this surveillance system.

Support in Reliance SCADA

The Reliance SCADA system has native support for IP cameras manufactured by:

  • Axis Communications
  • VIVOTEK Inc.
  • Pelco by Schneider Electric

For each type, a separate component is available that allows inserting a video directly into a visualization window. This native support means that the components use drivers supplied by the manufacturer of the IP camera. These drivers must therefore be installed on all computers equipped with the runtime software modules that are intended to display the camera image. Integrating IP cameras is quite a simple procedure. All you need to do is add the relevant component to the visualization window, enter the IP address of the camera, enter your credentials, specify the model of the camera or the type of video (e.g., MPEG-4, H.264, or Motion JPEG, depending on what the camera supports), and run the visualization project. After that, an IP camera image appears in the window.

Depending on the manufacturer and model of the IP camera, you can:

  • Rotate the camera and zoom the image (PTZ)
  • Control communication with the camera using a tag (which reduces the amount of data transmitted on the computer network)
  • Record a video into a file
  • Control recording using a tag (e.g., you can record a video only if the machine captured by the camera is in operation)
  • Link tags defined within the visualization project to external inputs and/or outputs and read or write these inputs/outputs' values should the camera be equipped with them

Native support for IP cameras in Reliance SCADA is free of charge (no license is required).

Based on our experience and on information from our systems integrators, we recommend that Axis and Vivotek IP cameras be integrated into Reliance.

What to do if my camera is not supported

If, for any reason, you cannot use the above cameras (Axis, Vivotek, Pelco), do not lose hope. There are still several ways how to integrate your camera into Reliance. The list of supported functions can, however, be limited.

1. Digifort

Digifort is the recommended solution. It is a professional and global IP surveillance system developed by a Brazilian company of the same name. It allows connecting and integrating most of today's IP cameras. Digifort provides complete camera management and video recording. In addition, it contains a user-friendly software solution, the visual part of which can be easily inserted into Reliance's visualization window. In this window, the image of one or multiple cameras by various manufacturers can be displayed as a set of screens (Screen View) that can be created with Digifort. You must first install Digifort and add your camera to it, as shown in this video.

Digifort can be integrated into the Reliance SCADA system easily and in a similar way to other types of cameras. You just need to place a Digifort component in the window and enter the server's name, address, and version (Digifort 7 and 7.2 are supported), your credentials, and the name of the camera or set (Screen View) under which it is registered in Digifort.

Digifort Component, Reliance SCADA

Once you start the project, the Digifort IP surveillance module placed in the visualization window appears.

Digifort Runtime, Reliance SCADA

Digifort requires a license for the appropriate number of cameras. For integration into Reliance's runtime software, Digifort's Standard edition will suffice. For integration into Reliance's thin clients, Digifort's Professional edition is required. Try out Digifort for free by running its four-hour trial version named Demo license.

2. Media Player component

The Reliance SCADA system's Media Player component allows playing a multimedia file or stream. The following types of players can be chosen:

  • Internal player (MCI)
  • Windows Media Player
  • VLC Media Player

Most IP cameras on the market provide video streaming (e.g., RTSP) at a predefined address (URL). Once you enter such a stream's URL in the Media Player component and specify the type of player that is capable of playing the stream, you're home free. The video will then be inserted into the visualization window. However, it's essential to realize that this is only data reception. It means that you can neither control the camera (PTZ) nor record a video in Reliance.

Media Player Component, Reliance SCADA

Note: Reliance's 32-bit version requires the player's 32-bit version.

3. Picture component

Reliance's Picture component is generally used to insert a static picture into a visualization window. This picture is imported from the picture database managed through the Picture Manager. The picture can also be linked dynamically, and its source can be, in addition to the picture database, a file on disk or the picture's Web address (URL). The picture's real address is specified by the value of the string-type tag to which the component is linked.

Picture Component, Reliance SCADA

Most IP cameras on the market provide snapshot images at a predefined address (URL). Once you set a snapshot's URL to the tag, it will appear in the component and will be refreshed depending on the update interval specified. As with the Media Player component, this is only data reception (i.e., no PTZ and recording).

Support for IP cameras in thin clients

Reliance's thin clients (Web Client and Smart Client) have built-in support for image reception (series of snapshots) from IP cameras. The following methods of image reception can be used:

1. Direct communication with the IP camera

This is the preferred and – from the point of view of transmission speed – best possible method. However, the camera's IP address must be accessible from the client computer. This method of image reception is intended for Reliance Web Client only.

2. Communication with Reliance's data server

This method of image reception is used when the camera's IP address is not accessible from the client computer (tablet, smartphone). If, for example, the data server and the IP camera are within the corporate network but only the data server is accessible from the Internet, the thin clients request a snapshot from the data server. The server then downloads the snapshot from the IP camera within the network and sends it to the client outside the network.

To select a method of image reception, go to the Web client's Options dialog (Computer Connected to Same Network as Data Server). If you want to select the first method, activate this option. If you leave it inactive, the second method will be selected.

Web Client Settings, Reliance SCADA

The following components are supported: Axis IP Camera, Vivotek IP Camera, Pelco IP Camera (no support for PTZ), and Digifort (allows for camera image reception – without support for Screen View – and camera control).


ONVIF is an open association of manufacturers of IP-based products, such as Axis Communications, Bosch, Sony Corporation, or AVTECH. The ONVIF standard is based on WSDL + SOAP (non-image data exchange), RTP/RTSP (video transmission), and MJPEG/MPEG-4/H.264 (compression formats). Currently, the Reliance SCADA system does not support ONVIF, but we plan to implement it in future versions. An IP camera with support for ONVIF can be connected via Digifort.

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