A New World of Information
Reaching out with a higher level of video storage and management
- By Mike Scirica
- Mar 01, 2014
We 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.
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
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.