To Store and Protect

Today’s video surveillance solutions enable greater flexibility, functionality

Proven to assist in reducing crime and speeding up investigations, video is a critical part of maintaining a secure environment. Because video surveillance is effective, the number of deployed systems continues to increase at a high rate. With the influx of more cameras, especially high-resolution models, more surveillance video is being captured and analyzed today than ever before.

The transportation market has especially embraced the value of surveillance. Public and private transit facilities—from railways and buses to airports and seaports— are critical components of society, providing for the movement of a large number of passengers, cargo and vehicles in highly congested urban areas. Terrorists often focus on transportation facilities, a sad fact that compounds the need for a consistent and strong level of safety. The intelligent application of video surveillance is imperative to improving security, aiding operations and streamlining maintenance. In today’s world, video surveillance is more a necessity than a luxury.

Widespread adoption of IP megapixel cameras makes rich video data available. Video analytics can convert everyday video into intelligent video streams. In particular, ports rely on these intelligent and high-resolution systems and IP-based devices to increase safety and security, and optimize operations such as cargo and dock loading. Using megapixel cameras, seaports capture clear images to efficiently monitor cargo, perimeter, property and procedures.

IP surveillance allows port officers access to relevant information from anywhere at any time, and delivers automatic incident alerts and alarms to reduce incident response times. More importantly, IP systems enhance safety and deliver cost-efficient, flexible and future-proof video surveillance investments. But the video is only useful if it is captured and stored by reliable and future-proof systems that ensure data is protected and available if and when it is needed.

Demand for Image Quality

Today’s seaport operators realize the value and benefits IP-based security devices bring to their facilities and are moving forward with plans to transition traditional CCTV systems to networked-based systems. The value of high-definition video surveillance to provide evidentiary support has grown, and ports are deploying more high-resolution cameras. There also are plans to integrate video surveillance with other technologies such as access control, video analytics, license plate recognition and facial recognition, to streamline security operations and reduce manpower. Regardless of these upgrades and new installations, there is no room for scheduled downtime. Security systems are mission-critical systems—when one system is switched out for another, it is important that users are still able to maintain and use their system regardless of the transition.

Port security executives recognize the value of high-resolution video. These dynamic systems provide an enhanced layer of security for employees and passengers, and reduce the opportunity for terrorist events or security breaches. If an event does occur, it is critical that users can retrieve captured video data as quickly as possible. Every minute counts.

Therefore, quick retrieval of security video and data is critical to resolve a breach fast. But more high-resolution and intelligent IP technologies generate huge requirements for storage capacity and bandwidth. As more surveillance users embrace IP infrastructure, storage platforms are evolving to meet growing capacity requirements. Failover and redundancy features requested in almost all port application also are critical to ensure access to all live and archived camera feeds. Ports need to have a system that guarantees constant access to security data. Failure is unacceptable.

Unfortunately, since video storage is a significant cost of any surveillance system— up to 50 percent—compromises are often made with retention times, video resolution or camera counts to meet budget. But newer approaches apply virtualization to storage appliances, allowing virtual servers to reside on storage appliances. This allows for the elimination of standalone servers and reduces costs associated with rack space, power and cooling while meeting the reliability, performance and management needs of today’s surveillance systems.

The Port of Seattle is one environment that leveraged virtualization to maximize video capture and protection. Each year the seaport division handles just over two million containers, making it the seventh largest port in North America and the 57th largest in the world. In terms of surveillance, the port has more than 120 terabytes of storage with embedded virtual servers to support more than 1,100 cameras. Virtual appliances eliminated the need for standalone physical servers, which saved the port 40 percent in power and cooling costs.

The virtualization strategy also delivered failover for video applications to meet the stringent requirements for reliability during failure scenarios. The system supported the upgrade to digital storage, while preserving the existing investment in analog cameras, maintaining optimal system performance and protecting security data.

For the Port of Seattle, it was critical to maintain its vision to be an environmental leader. The port seeks out new technologies that help the organization meet environmental goals while maintaining the highest protection levels for passengers and employees.

Coordination and Collaboration

Seaports are often located in high-population areas with housing, industry and transportation infrastructure close to its perimeters. Port officials focus primarily on monitoring the constant movement of cargo and ships. The most important piece of information is who and what is at a terminal at any given moment. Safety is paramount. If the harbor is not safe enough, business drops and there is a negative effect on the economy. But the high level of security cannot be accomplished without a partnership between the private and public sectors as well as multiple public agencies.

Transportation facilities, municipalities and local government must coordinate efforts to develop a “Safe City” environment. Safe Cities leverage partnerships and technology to help communities and businesses reduce crime and enhance safety. Integration among technologies, such as IP surveillance and access control systems, is only one facet of this approach; police, fire, medical and emergency personnel also need to streamline communications and efforts. The main objective of developing a Safe City is to promote multidisciplinary cooperation, and coordinate emergency management on a regional scale. There is also a drive to cooperate with military, critical infrastructure and other stakeholders in the fields of crisis and disaster management. Private companies, such as those with local offices, should be involved as well. Governments can set up a common dispatch center to funnel critical information to police, fire and emergency responders if of an incident occurs, and then combine that data with video surveillance and other security sensor data.

All of this coordination will work to verify information during an incident, such as a terrorist attack, while all the work beforehand helps regions develop a proactive approach to safety.

Bringing Communities Together

Crime and violence are intractable problems for many local communities, and limited resources often make it difficult to provide adequate public safety manpower to address the challenge. Almost every community has locales that are hot spots for crime, and the negative impact of criminal activity often makes residents and visitors afraid, and limits opportunities for economic growth. Often, cities have disparate systems in various locations so, local officials need to work closely with other agencies and businesses to jointly use video surveillance as a deterrent and an investigative tool.

The positive effects of video surveillance are remarkable and well documented, as recently demonstrated during the Boston bombings investigation. Simultaneously, use of video as a law enforcement tool has given many neighborhoods previously plagued by crime new life as vibrant, livable communities.

Computation and storage appliances provide flexibility to start with as much or as little video storage as a municipality needs, and then add capacity and performance without disruption simply by adding appliances. Performance and capacity of the systems ensure they can handle the demands of incoming video streams and protect the existing investment over time as the deployment grows. Costs also are reduced by consolidating server and shared storage functionality in a common appliance, while appliances provide application failover that protects both stored video—the most critical asset—during a failure. Public service operators need to capture critical surveillance data at all times, and application failover prevents the loss of captured video.

For city surveillance, again, cost-effectively storing of ever-increasing amounts of video footage drives the success of camera systems.

This article originally appeared in the July 2013 issue of Security Today.


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