Online Exclusive: How to Store Video Surveillance More Effectively
To scale out video-surveillance capabilities, law enforcement agencies have a number of choices, such as software-defined solutions and cloud technologies. Agencies need to choose whether to use a public or private cloud and then look at the capabilities they require.
- By Jonathan Ring
- Oct 07, 2016
As the amount of video data grows and video resolution improves, the requirement for storage space increases and it becomes more difficult and expensive for law enforcement agencies to store videos, even for a short time.
However, securely storing large amounts of video data and being able to find the data easily is now a requirement for law enforcement agencies. Legal procedures and legislation like the Freedom of Information Act require the secure transfer of full or partial government-controlled data if requested.
Even if you do have the storage space, dumping a massive amount of files into a data silo and not attempting to index or organize them in any way can render important video footage unsearchable and, therefore, useless.
The Video Storage Problem
The key elements to consider in determining storage requirements for video surveillance are the “three R’s”: retention, reliability, and resolution.
• Retention times vary by state and range from 30 days for non-evidence to seven years to indefinitely for certain crimes. The longer the retention time, the more storage a law enforcement agency needs.
• Reliability is something most in the storage industry don’t think about. Storage and storage media will eventually fail. You need to protect the data in some way, and that comes with additional storage overhead ranging from 20 percent to 300 percent, depending on the level of availability needed.
• Resolution is what most people consider when they think of video size, and that is driven by frames per second. While cameras in police cars record 1.5 gigabytes per hour at standard definition, body-worn cameras shooting at 720 HD consume about 2.5 gigabytes per hour. Increase this resolution to 1080 HD, and the storage consumption increases to 5 gigabytes per hour. Now, multiply body-worn camera storage needs by the over 900,000 sworn law enforcement officers in the U.S. alone, and you’re looking at a staggering amount of data.
Legacy storage systems are incredibly expensive, especially considering the retention time a piece of evidence may require. One police department spends $111,000 annually to store evidence associated with just 50 cameras. Other departments are purchasing even more storage after realizing that they’re already one-third of the way through the storage they pre-purchased.
And while cloud storage may work for smaller departments, the compounding costs over time and the bandwidth necessary to move data to the cloud need to be considered. As a result, some departments are looking for public and private cloud storage that is economical; the answer is object storage.
The Benefits of Switching to Object Storage Systems
Object storage systems address specific concerns in law enforcement associated with data privacy, secure access, reliability, and economical scale. Some of the biggest worries in storing data are the possibilities that data could be lost, corrupted, stolen, or easily accessed (making privacy a concern), that existing storage could be depleted, and that content could be difficult and time-consuming to locate.
These systems store video keys with value pairs so there is a unique identifier for each video rather than a server name, series of directories, and file name, making it easier to locate specific files. All you need is the unique ID. Object storage systems are also economical because they run on standard servers, and in the event of a change or update in technology, data can be easily migrated to newer, more efficient hardware.
Characteristic of all object storage solutions is that they scale in a single location or multiple locations, they are highly automated, and they include “self-healing” technology. And best-of-breed solutions include compliance features like write once read many, legal hold, and integrity seals that can be used in courts of law to demonstrate a video hasn’t been tampered with.
Storing your video data with object storage makes it more useful because it:
1. Consolidates data in an easy-to-search, resilient storage solution. Storing data in disparate silos means that when you need to find a file, it’ll be like finding a needle in a haystack, which can lead to heavy penalties and fines. Files need to be consolidated and have metadata stored directly with the file so that they will be easily searchable.
2. Ensures your storage is admissible in a court of law. Agencies need to make sure their storage meets compliance standards with features like WORM, legal hold, and integrity seals to prove in a court of law that digital evidence hasn’t been tampered with.
These features can prevent data from being modified or deleted, and they can also protect the original data set. Replicas of the data are made in the event of losses or malfunctions, and when transferring data, integrity seals can prevent tampering or transmission errors. Even in the event of catastrophic failures, data can be recovered from a remote location with ease. All these features mean that there will be no question that the videos presented in court are accurate.
3. Makes sure your storage solution can scale out as your video needs grow. This accommodates growth in the number of cameras used, resolution of capture, retention rates, and overhead for proper resilience and protection. As your data grows, your storage will need to grow with it.
To scale out video-surveillance capabilities, law enforcement agencies have a number of choices, such as software-defined solutions and cloud technologies. Agencies need to choose whether to use a public or private cloud and then look at the capabilities they require. Prepare for the future today, and make sure your solution can scale to meet your needs for the next 5 to 10 years.
Law enforcement officials, and the lawyers and judges who work with them, need to find smarter ways to consolidate, protect, and search data being stored. To achieve this, data must remain online, accessible, and searchable with proper metadata attached. Object storage is one of the most cost-effective and secure ways to meet those requirements.