Edge-Centric Surveillance Vs. Centralized Surveillance Management – the Debate Continues

The advanced technology driving surveillance systems fills gaps in situational awareness that can never be matched by guards or fences, and act as force multipliers that enhance the effectiveness of existing “boots on the ground.”

Surveillance systems are invaluable for critical infrastructure protection. The advanced technology driving surveillance systems fills gaps in situational awareness that can never be matched by guards or fences, and act as force multipliers that enhance the effectiveness of existing “boots on the ground.” Keeping 24/7 vigilant watch, these CCTV, thermal imaging, and ground based radar sensors are the lifeblood of a perimeter intrusion detection system. However, the full array of sensor data comes with a challenge: how to best manage the continuous data stream? How does a security operator manage the fine line between full situational awareness and data storage capacity?

This challenge has led to a battle in recent years between centralized surveillance data management and edge based data management systems. The main debate centers on the management of video data, which is typically the largest strain on network bandwidth.

Centralized Surveillance Management

Traditionally, surveillance data has been managed through a centralized approach. This solution is built around a server based monitoring datacenter where all video and data collected at remote sites is stored. Simplistic in design, this solution provides economies of scale for servers paired with easy maintenance and readily available data access. There are many advantages to this solution, but one very significant drawback. All data and video must be continuously transmitted from the remote sites to the central servers. This creates a massive strain on bandwidth and network traffic, frequently requiring a reduction in video frame rates to maximize transmission. Viability and integrity of video data is reduced, decreasing the effectiveness of server based video analysis and increasing the risk of an intrusion due to frequent clogging of bandwidth and network downtime. Transmission data loss reduces security levels, and reduces situational awareness.

Edge Based Surveillance Management

Edge-based solutions record and process video streams directly at the camera and sensor locations – in other words “on the edge” of the surveillance network. The surveillance solution must be designed around a distributed, multi-server network versus relying on a centralized server network.

The advantages include the lack of strain on network bandwidth, and the recording and analysis of video data is not impacted by network functionality. Edge-based solutions consume bandwidth only when needed. Data is transmitted on demand, when video analytics identify activity that warrants attention, such as a potential intrusion or sensor malfunction, or when a security operator queries data from a specific camera directly. Other transmissions may be scheduled during network downtime, such as a regularly scheduled back up data feed to a centralized server. Due to the lack of network bandwidth required for recording data, all video frames can be recorded on the edge, with no loss of video detail.

While this solution sounds attractive, edge-based solutions are not without risk. There is a challenge with video storage, as server networks are more difficult to scale. Typically, edge-based servers limit the number of camera feeds that can be consumed. Maintenance is another concern, requiring site visits for every hardware upgrade, repair or replacement, increasing sensor downtime and potential data loss.

The environment is another significant obstacle. While cameras and surveillance sensors are heavily ruggedized to withstand climate and weather conditions, traditional server electronics are much more fragile. Investments in ruggedized electronics and environmentally controlled enclosures are required, increasing expense and raising performance risk.

Hybrid Solutions – The Best of Both Worlds

Hybrid solutions combine the best of both approaches. An edge-centric approach is used to provide short term video storage, and edge based analytics processing. When needed, a centralized approach is leveraged to archive long term storage utilizing both central based servers and cloud based storage.

Bandwidth management is maximized because each camera doesn’t require 24/7 streaming across the network, but periodic down loads of the stored video can happen at a pace significantly greater than real time.

The chief challenge to hybrid solutions has historically been accessibility to edge-based servers and video management systems. Justin Thompson, President of Sentry View Systems, summarizes, “Intelligent Data Management refers to much more than simply storing the video. Access in real time to multiple edge based video servers from one central location is critical to situational awareness. Typical video management systems limit the number of remote video servers that can be accessed.” Thompson continues, “During our years of collaborating with our clients to solve remote surveillance challenges, we realized limited remote server access was the main block to fusing edge based and centralized video data management. Our SightCOMMANDER solution solves this problem, creating easy access from one central monitoring station to live data from over 50 separate remote video servers.”

Edge-centric video storage systems linked to a central monitoring station and archival system provide the best of both worlds. When this solution is fused with ruggedized edge solutions and renewable power to drive environmentally controlled, mobile surveillance applications the best of breeds is achieved. The central versus edge-based surveillance gap is bridged providing highly functional and scalable surveillance solutions.

For more information, please review the full white paper here.

About Sentry View Systems:

Sentry View Systems, Inc. is a lean, agile and adaptive engineering and specialty manufacturing corporation. We specialize in creating ideal solutions for demanding, remote applications.

We build what no one else will, in ways that no one else can.

Sentry View Systems has a rich history in producing turnkey solutions for demanding remote applications for military and industrial clients. They have delivered and installed remote, SATCOM communications systems in Iraq, Kosovo and Angola. Sentry View has been on an annually renewed contract to provide remote communications services for the US DoD for over 10 years. They have been awarded repeat contracts five times to provide remote surveillance solutions for the USAF to monitor and protect Minuteman III ICBM launch facilities, and provide enhanced situational awareness for critical first responders. Sentry View delivers renewable energy remote power for surveillance systems on the US/Mexico border, and for hanger security at the Charles M. Schulz Regional Airport.

Sentry View Systems enhances the value of your team through custom engineering, specialty manufacturing, fabrication services and off-the-shelf, turnkey solutions and products.


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