Reaching out with a higher level of video storage and management

A New World of Information

Reaching out with a higher level of video storage and management

Reaching out with a higher level of video storage and managementWe live in a world full of information as data is being collected each day because the demand is higher than ever before. Consumers want faster access to online data to make quicker, more informed decisions regarding everything from nearby restaurants to the highest-rated tablets. It’s no different in the security and surveillance industry, where security leaders continually search for new ways to gather, manage and store data to secure their organizations and run their departments more efficiently.

Video surveillance is a critical tool for maintaining a secure environment. Therefore, surveillance cameras are being deployed at a rapid rate across the globe. These aren’t the cameras of yesterday, though. They are IP-based, high-resolution and intelligent devices, applying the power of the network to transmit data to recording and management platforms. Reliable and secure video storage appliances allow users to securely capture and make the most of critical data from both a security and operations perspective.

At the same time, customers of all sizes and market focuses are finding new ways to capture and leverage information from multiple devices, including video surveillance cameras, access control systems and video analytics platforms, to develop reports and identify trends. This information helps enhance security and optimize internal operations.

Security and surveillance managers demand video recording platforms that yield unprecedented levels of command and control over images in live and recorded feeds. Managers want to be able to quickly retrieve video when an incident happens to speed up investigations and share related video with law enforcement, as needed. They also require systems with built-in, redundancy options and secure transmission protocols to protect valuable video and audio data.

Because of growing information needs, more surveillance video is being captured and analyzed, making secure, reliable and effective video recording platforms a must-have tool, but not all products are created equal.

Great Expectations

Surveillance and security end users in today’s complex market require technology that delivers more right out of the box. To create systems that offer the rich feature sets expected by today’s customers, a video management and storage system has to be based on open architecture—one that’s scalable and works with the majority of manufacturers’ cameras, including increasingly popular 360-degree or hemispheric products.

Open standards allow VMS platforms to automatically detect camera feeds from different manufacturers when connected to the network. This capability streamlines system installation, set-up and management for both integrators and end users. Furthermore, this flexibility offers end users a range of options so they can find the hardware that works best for their specific applications while saving time and money.

ONVIF is one voluntary organization that is driving IP-based, physical security through global standardization. Conformance to Profile S—a new protocol from the organization—aids end users and systems designers in determining interoperable components of a physical security solution. There is also a new specification, Profile G, which will offer higher levels of interoperability and integration with advanced features. Overall, the goal of standards bodies, like ONVIF, and the manufacturers that support them is to deliver platforms that enable users to build best-in-class solutions, regardless of manufacturer or approach.

Once solutions are open and easy to manage, users should then consider what solution works best for their particular environment. Here is a closer look at today’s video recording and storage options along with their functionalities.

‘Network’ video. Network-based, recording appliances are best deployed by organizations that possess IT skills, the resources to solve network issues and wide experience with network infrastructure. Organizations that regularly purchase network equipment and have established relationships with IT providers can leverage buying power, share resources and share expertise.

Specifically, geographically-dispersed organizations can greatly benefit from NVRs. These organizations have robust, wide-area networks (for general business needs), and their video surveillance and security systems should be able to ride on the same infrastructure. The same could be true of a small, single-location business or entity—a robust network and support staff can provide great economies of scale.

Edge-based storage. Typically, the most expensive part of a video security and surveillance system is storage. Pushing storage out to the edge is the least-efficient solution in terms of consolidating storage, and the most costly to maintain. Storage at the edge does improve system integrity whereas local storage— usually solid state to avoid mechanical HDDs spinning in less than ideal conditions— buffers recordings in the event of network maintenance or temporary loss of network connectivity.

The Cloud. Cost synergies and data security tend to be opposing forces. Cloud storage leverages existing infrastructure investment, allowing multiple sites or multiple entities to share resources, management and staff. But, the further critical data is sent and the further this data is stored from the source, the more vulnerable it is to outsiders.

Cloud storage almost always requires edge storage. The further storage is from the source and the more equipment and service providers in between, the greater the frequency of temporary system interruptions. The more important the recordings, the more users will depend on local buffering until the network is functioning fully again. With this in mind, cloud storage will continue to drive edge recording requirements.

Therefore, local storage, at a secure location, could be the most protected, but the extreme case is providing no outside connectivity to the network and providing robust, overlapping, physical security. The latter isn’t practical in today’s environment, but there are certainly plenty of applications with very restricted, outside, connectivity requirements, rather than the complex cloud storage option.

De-warping. New camera functionality allows users to get more out of their video surveillance systems than ever before. As users look to gain more coverage out of their cameras—and more eyes in the sky—hemispheric, fisheye and 360-degree cameras are growing in popularity. But, these camera views need to be modified to allow users to tap into the inherent benefits of the technology.

Video management and storage platforms are incorporating a feature called de-warping, a functionality that is embedded into a video management system and takes original 360-degree images from supported 360-degree cameras and dewarps them to allow users to view the complete video image without distortion. Built-in, de-warping functionality simultaneously displays multiple de-warped images from a single, hemispheric camera stream, while a virtual PTZ allows operators to view enlarged portions of the total image.

Unlike comparable software packages, de-warping is designed to receive and store only the original 360-degree image, which greatly reduces network traffic and bandwidth requirements, saving tremendously on recording time, the most expensive element of commercial video systems. When the video is played back, the operator can display multiple de-warped images, regardless of whether the virtual views were created previously.

Maintaining Optimal Use

Ongoing maintenance and service are a reality of any security system. The only differentiating factor is who provides maintenance and the distance between those resources and the equipment requiring support.

Local system integrators can usually provide support efficiently by using systems with a wide assortment of tools and options to reduce urgent calls. Simple network management protocol (SNMP), for example, provides monitoring and alerts for many parameters of system health. The single, highest point for failure in any storage system tends to be hard disk drives, and redundant array of independent drives (RAID) configurations ensure video is not lost, even in the event of single or multiple drive failure.

There is a fundamental increase in the strategic value of video data as users look to increase safety and establish new ways of mining recorded video for uses far beyond the world of security including enhancing marketing, employee training and customer service. The influx in valuable video data comes from the need for an ever-increasing number of cameras, higher resolution cameras and longer video retention times. Integrated solutions that incorporate video surveillance with other technologies, such as access control, video analytics, building automation and other networkedbased systems, are increasingly being deployed.

All these trends drive the demand for secure, flexible and reliable recording devices. As users seek ways to further enhance operations and increase security, they will look to storage and recording platforms to help manage their security data. And, today’s technologies are designed to take on the task. Therefore, as technology innovators, it is our job to make our customers’ jobs and lives easier. Manufacturing products that are intuitive, user-friendly, open and scalable is a critical component of technology development.

When products are easy to install and program, customers can count on an intuitive user experience and will experience the products in the way they were designed to operate. If customers require further support, manufacturers need to provide a wide network of authorized installers and a robust support team that can address any concerns or questions. It should be a priority to make it easy to do business with the surveillance industry, and building interoperable, intuitive solutions is the first step toward making this a reality.

This article originally appeared in the March 2014 issue of Security Today.


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