Online Exclusive: Who

Online Exclusive: Who's Minding Your Surveillance Systems' Performance?

Online Exclusive: Who's Minding Your Surveillance Systems' Performance?Video surveillance has undergone a rapid evolution in recent years. What was once a high-tech luxury has grown into a crucial element of physical security. Driven by the consumer market, where virtually all television programming is broadcast in HD, people expect superior quality from their surveillance video, and the industry continues to move in that direction. Today’s cutting-edge, high-resolution camera and recording solutions provide crisp, clear images from both fixed and mobile locations for control room staff to view in HD on flat panel displays. Alongside these changes in image quality have come even more meaningful changes in the way surveillance video is issued.

In the early days of surveillance, videotapes and then DVRs were the main recording solutions available. Because both offered a finite amount of storage that could only be expanded through additional purchases, retention was rarely, if ever, a major consideration. People would simply record over video once they ran out of tapes or hard drive space. With very few exceptions, video of an event couldn’t be viewed or retrieved after the fact; the footage was simply no longer available. This has changed with the advent of digital video, along with plentiful and inexpensive storage. Now video can be compressed, stored and archived as compliance policies require in expandable servers.

The expanding importance of video surveillance to mitigate risk and manage security programs means organizations can no longer afford to question whether they should retain video footage. What is essential is making sure there are no issues, problems or interruptions in the video stream, so that video information will be available for review. This raises a big question: how are you managing the performance of your video surveillance infrastructure?

Despite major advancements in video, there’s a good chance you have very little visibility into your surveillance network. Even if you are seeing video on your HD screens, that by no means guarantees that it’s being recorded properly. In many instances, serious issues with a video system’s performance go undetected until you’re searching for a particular event or segment of video, only to find that it is missing. As video systems grow in both physical scale and role in today’s risk management and security programs, not having 100% video uptime and retention compliance is a significant brand, financial and life safety liability.

For example, missing video severely hampers investigations. In the case of slip-and-fall claims – which often turn out to be false – even a few seconds of video could refute a claim. For more serious crimes, police are beginning to rely on video to identify and arrest perpetrators, while prosecutors also lean heavily on that same video for prosecuting crimes. When video goes missing, the consequences can be very serious, and criminals may go free.

Beyond incident-related video, some organizations, such as hospitals, require video footage to demonstrate compliance with industry or government standards and regulations. For healthcare organizations, these might include regulations or standards for ensuring patient privacy or properly managing and tracking medication. When that video isn’t available, the result could be hefty fines or even loss of license or accreditation, forcing a facility to close its doors for a period of time. In healthcare, this would not only affect a hospital’s bottom line, but the larger community in general.

These potential negative outcomes clearly illustrate the importance of maintaining a reliable video infrastructure. As the security industry moves toward a new model of predictive analytics, the need for a consistent and dependable flow of information is only increasing.

Technology ultimately delivers solutions to the issues it creates, and it is now possible to bring crucial reliability to existing IP video networks and ensure that vital video is available when it’s needed. New solutions continuously collect thousands of points of diagnostic information from across the video system infrastructure, capturing valuable performance metrics to provide intelligent, actionable intelligence to a command and control center. Any failures or interruptions are quickly detected, diagnosing the problem and alerting security and/or IT personnel. This critical information allows staff to repair any network or system issues quickly to mitigate or eliminate the problem of missing video. When a crime, claim or other incident needs to be investigated, the video is there. When you need to demonstrate regulatory compliance, the video is there.

Thanks to these new solutions, the expectation of reliable video is now a reality – one that increases security levels and improves the effectiveness of investigations and compliance while also delivering the return on investment that today’s high-quality video surveillance system should provide

About the Author

Bud Broomhead is the CEO of Viakoo.

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