Collaboration is Key in the Video Vortex

Increased security concerns, availability of IP networks, camera sprawl and improvement in video content analytics are all contributing to a rapid growth in the amount of video surveillance data that federal agencies are gathering today. By 2018, the video surveillance equipment market is forecast to reach $25.6 billion, and by 2020, video surveillance data is expected to reach approximately 3.3 trillion hours globally.

From facial recognition to instant event search and interagency real-time surveillance, the benefits of video surveillance data are numerous. The surveillance data enables significant opportunities for Big Data analysis critical to our nation’s security, such as monitoring suspicious behavior, object recognition, incident detection, face matching, safety alerts and anomaly detection. It’s no secret that federal video surveillance data is an important component to improved security across the federal government—but only if that data is safely captured, stored, and effectively analyzed.

So, Where Do We Stand?

MeriTalk’s new report, “The Video Vortex,” found that although 99 percent of feds believe that video surveillance technology will play a significant role in their ability to prevent crime, theft, and terrorism over the next five years, 54 percent of federal video surveillance data goes unanalyzed. This study sponsored by EMC Corp., a global IT and security leader, is based on a survey of 151 federal decision makers—evenly split between physical security and IT managers.

As the amount of video surveillance data grows rapidly, so does the potential for improved security—as long as the data is fully examined. But, since over half of video surveillance data goes unanalyzed, we must figure out how to harness its full potential in order to succeed.

According to the study, one answer lies in collaboration between physical security and IT. Seventy-nine percent of feds believe their agency needs to improve collaboration between the departments in order to be successful. A more collaborative approach will make agencies more prepared for the video surveillance data deluge, and more likely to analyze video surveillance data to derive actionable insights. The study found that agencies who implement collaboration between the two are significantly ahead of agencies that do not.

Agencies that have departmental collaboration are:

  • More prepared for the influx of video surveillance data— 81 percent versus 24 percent;
  • more likely to analyze at least 50 percent of the data— 63 percent versus 47 percent;
  • and more than twice as likely to operate edge-to-core platform architecture for surveillance—92 percent versus 44 percent

How Do We Get There?

In order to work together successfully, there must be a consensus between physical security and IT managers to determine who has primary responsibility for managing their agency’s video surveillance infrastructure. The study revealed there is confusion over to whom that responsibility belongs—76 percent of physical security managers vs. 33 percent of IT managers believe the responsibility is shared between the two departments.

Looking at infrastructure, the need for improvement is evident. While agencies recognize the potential that video surveillance holds, approximately nine in ten believe their infrastructures are currently unprepared for the video data influx. Over the next five years, 91 percent believe storage needs to increase, 89 percent believe computing power needs to increase, and 84 percent believe personnel needs to increase, in order to adapt and handle the oncoming growth.

As a step in the right direction, three-quarters of respondents say their agency’s IT department is currently working on integrating video surveillance data into a central repository for analysis.

The Where and How

To accurately understand how to handle video surveillance data and maximize insights, we must understand how this technology is used today. In what ways do Feds collect video surveillance data? How are surveillance cameras distributed? Where are they located, and are they fixed or mobile? Today’s video surveillance solutions are characterized by a combination of distributed technologies also known as centralized technologies or the core.

According to the study, 74 percent of survey respondents operate an enterprise approach, including an edge-to-core architecture for video surveillance.

Feds collect video surveillance data through a variety of sensors. The study found that 88 percent collect the data through stationary cameras, and 80 percent use scanning cameras—both monitoring a fixed location. Although cameras at fixed locations have become one standard approach to collecting data, mobile camera usage is becoming more popular, especially across the Defense Department. The study found that in Defense agencies, 77 percent use cameras on vehicles (vs. 53 percent of Civilian), 75 percent use cameras on people (vs. 44 percent of Civilian), and 78 percent use cameras on drones (vs. 17 percent of Civilian).

Additionally, to optimize video surveillance effectiveness, the feds are looking into advanced solutions to add to their video strategy—92 percent are looking into Machineto- Machine (M2M) technology, and 93 percent are looking into intelligent data storage. Each brings their own benefits to the table—M2M enables both wireless and wired devices to automatically communicate via a network, and intelligent data storage flexes to optimize storage capacity, backup times, costs, and performance.

The Takeaway

Now that everything has been laid out on the table, the following question must be addressed:

Are the feds ready for the massive increase in video surveillance data?

One thing is clear—there is certainly room for advancement. With nearly all feds identifying necessary increases in storage, computing power, and personnel, these are important areas for investment today.

Another focus for agencies needs to be the collaboration piece of the puzzle—physical security and IT managers need to join forces in order to handle the oncoming growth in video surveillance data. Once federal agencies tackle their current hurdles— from edge to core—the potential of video surveillance data will hold limitless possibilities for better protecting our nation.

This article originally appeared in the May 2015 issue of Security Today.

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