Where Video Data Will Take Us
The state of video surveillance and where storage is taking the industry
- By Brian Grainger
- Feb 01, 2016
It’s an unseasonably warm day in the city. You receive an alert on your smartphone
that there’s been a bank robbery on Main Street. Witnesses describe
the culprit as a man, about six-foot-one, wearing a green hat and black jacket.
Or was it a blue jacket? One woman can’t remember. Law enforcement
will have to rely on video surveillance data for the answer.
Successful companies read the tea leaves and saw IoT-connected devices coming.
This includes video surveillance, which is now among the fastest growing industries
in terms of data generation and adoption of new data storage technologies.
The industry is going through the same technology shift that the media and
entertainment business did a few years ago—the migration from analog to digital,
the emergence of higher resolution cameras with higher frame rates—but with a
slightly different vernacular. Don’t think of just data, think video, collected on a
scale of 10s of terabytes to multiple petabytes in massive video archives.
WHO USES VIDEO SURVEILLANCE DATA?
Video surveillance is most recognized for its role capturing bad people doing bad
things, but really any organization that needs a video record for surveillance or evidence
of people activity around its facility is a viable end user in the market. The
user spectrum spans from small mom-and-pop shops with one or two cameras and
local, laptop storage, to multi-national corporations with thousands of cameras
and a surveillance network that crosses borders. As a general rule, more cameras
and large cameras both mean more storage.
Video quality, retention period and other standards depend on the end user.
An end user that handles money tends to require higher resolutions and higher
frame rates to ensure that things don’t disappear from one video frame to the next.
Cameras today, in some cases, will support up to 60 frames per second. Other
industries, such as manufacturing, value high resolution above all. More pixels in
the frame allows them to digitally enlarge images to get much better clarity. Retention
tends to vary based upon how much interaction an organization has with
its customers. Facilities with a lot of people coming through hold onto data for
longer periods of time for litigation purposes, usually about three years. That way,
if someone says they slipped and fell on premises, the video evidence is available
for reference to help resolve legal questions. Organizations that don’t have a lot of
people involved tend to have shorter retention times of days or months.
Law enforcement organizations,
such as police precincts, are classic end
users of video surveillance data. Law
enforcement typically relies on a combination
of fixed and mobile cameras
to capture video footage, including
body-worn, pole-mounted and dashboard
cameras. Some cameras run 24
hours a day, generating astronomical
amounts of video, while others are
turned on and off by individual officers.
Back at the precinct, officers ideally
need access to a docking station,
evidence management system and data
repository to manage and store captured
footage for long-term retention
and easy, searchable access.
NOW, A GLOBAL ISSUE
Since security is a global issue, governments
and agencies are becoming
ever larger and more important users
of video surveillance data. Nations record
and retain vast amounts of video
for international security and humanitarian
efforts, as well as for training
purposes. Video may be immediately
analyzed or archived and reviewed
down the road for domestic or international
Banks like the one on Main Street
deploy 500 or more cameras for preventing
robberies, crime investigation,
preventing check fraud, phantom ATM
withdrawals, and more. Each camera
requires full motion recording, high
resolution and high frame rates. The
retention term can vary anywhere from
days to years.
Sporting facilities, basketball arenas
or football stadiums, also use surveillance
data. Arenas can have 500
or more cameras, typically with more
cameras outside of the arena (hallways,
parking lot, etc.) and fewer cameras
inside. All recorded video is used for
liability purposes. The same goes for
cruise ships and casinos, which utilize
video surveillance cameras to make
sure there’s no breach of government
regulations or sleight of hand.
Commercial companies are starting
to use video surveillance data to drive
revenue. The largest retailer in the
world uses video to track consumer
patterns in-store. How many people
walk in the front door? How many
go left, and how many go right? How
many walk in and stand at the first
kiosk for twelve seconds? They determine
and adjust their shelf space fees
based on this video evidence.
THE STATE OF VIDEO
What are these diverse organizations
using to store their ever increasing amounts of video surveillance data? Today
the answer is disk. Disk-based solutions
traditionally made up 100 percent
of storage systems in the video surveillance
market, with most disk-based
storage tending to be iSCSCI network
protocol to a storage device. Another
popular solution is network attached
storage (NAS), like our Spectra Verde
and Verde DPE products. The market is
shifting from analog video cameras to
IP based video cameras as well, and all
IP systems are currently using disk as
Today, there are typically two groups
that own the surveillance and storage
process in large organizations, the security
department and the IT department.
The security department manages the
collection of video surveillance data,
including door access (card readers)
and guards at the building on a 24-hour
basis. Members of the security department
typically don’t have high levels of
IT experience, and instead contract set
up and management to an outside resource,
like a systems integrator.
The systems integrator or IT department
also often manages the storage of
video surveillance data. Members of
the IT department typically have high
levels of IT experience and knowledge,
and work to integrate video surveillance
storage into an organization’s overall IT
structure. This level of knowledge is vital
in larger organizations to determine
when and where various video streams,
from a vast number of cameras, are hitting
Smaller organizations tend not to
have the resources or infrastructure to
architect their own storage solutions.
At smaller organizations, the security
team is likely also in charge of storage
in the security infrastructure, though
their level of IT knowledge is rather basic—
in a lot of cases, they may know
security, cameras, guns and bullets better
than IT infrastructure needs. For
this reason, smaller organizations oftentimes
look to solution providers to
manage storage as a service.
CHALLENGES IN THE STORE
There are three main issues affecting
large and small organizations alike in
today’s video surveillance market. The
first is a complex shopping and buying
process for video surveillance systems.
When an organization decides they
want to deploy a video surveillance
storage system, they need to figure out
what cameras, video quality and network
they need, as well as where they
want to place the cameras. They also
need to pick a VMS, buy servers, and
determine what their retention requirements
are. Available budget generally
determines what type of retention an
organization deploys, and organizations
tend to compromise, but budget
also dictates how cost effective the solution
Finding a cost-effective solution
to meet the specific retention requirements of an organization is a second issue in the market. Organizations want their
infrastructure to be as secure as possible, with more and better cameras, and longer
retention times. But they don’t have a reliable, cost effective solution to meet
those needs. Smaller organizations may keep data on their local cloud, but this
becomes an expensive option as the amount of data increases.
The third issue in today’s video surveillance market is scalability, while maintaining
a chain of command. As industry components like camera and analytic
technologies get more sophisticated, creating more data, it is crucial that an organization
consider how their video surveillance data is going to expand over time
as their security infrastructure grows. This includes the challenge of how to consolidate
all of the digital information into a single storage platform, shared by all
applications and accessible by all members of the organization to ensure video
cannot be edited by outside parties.
HELP WITH ONBOARDING
Solution providers, like Spectra, exist in part to help with the video surveillance
storage onboarding process. Having just celebrated 36 years of success in the storage
market, we can recommend solutions to the questions of cost effectiveness and
scalability as well. We are continuously partnering with VMS and other solutions
providers throughout the industry to allow customers to explore storage system
options customized to fit their unique quality and retention needs.
On the issue of cost effectiveness, a tiered approach to storage is always best.
Our Verde DPE disk product, based on its capacity, data integrity and cost, really
sets a standard in the industry. With a deployment cost as low as $0.09/GB, well
below the typical cost for storage being deployed today, Verde DPE offers disk
performance at the cost of tape for smaller organizations. However, its higher performance
network interface, and capability to be upgraded and scaled in capacity
and performance also makes it a powerful tool for companies looking to scale
from 10 to 1,000 cameras and beyond.
The issue of a single, shared storage platform isn’t quite as simple. If you walk
into most law enforcement agencies today, body-worn camera content is held in
one system and accident reporting on another completely separate system with its own server and storage. In fact, every application
that creates digital information at a precinct typically
has its own server and storage. Law enforcement
has yet to enforce a central storage environment.
We are actively partnering with organizations
like HauteSpot to offer video management solutions
with centralized access and a true chain of custody
throughout the storage system, but an industry shift
to on-premises ownership of surveillance data is still
a work in progress.
THE FUTURE OF VIDEO SURVEILLANCE
The shift to a central access point for video surveillance
data is just one of many changes we will see in
the video surveillance industry in the next five years.
The amount of video content generated will continue
to increase, and the number and types of end-users in
the market will become more established.
Developments in technology will continue to follow
the lead of the media and entertainment space.
Video management software will be completely IP
based, run off of a browser rather than client server
architecture, and ultimately giving way to a webbased
VMS system. 4K will be the new normal in
camera resolution, and frame rates will continue
to increase, as a deployment of newer compression
technologies in these cameras manages the amount
of video being generated while also decreasing the
bandwidth the video consumes.
Security environments will grow in an effort to prevent
incidents related to police brutality and terrorism
from happening around the world. Companies will
want to make their customers feel safe by expanding
their security infrastructure. This may mean more cameras
throughout a given environment to make it more
secure, as well as longer retention times to ensure video
assets are accessible for later analysis. As the amount
of video surveillance data expands, different ways to
archive or store surveillance video will emerge. We will
be observing the market carefully to determine whether
these will be traditional disk systems, new and innovative
ways of utilizing the cloud to make it more cost
effective, or something else entirely.
An officer returns from Main Street to the local
precinct and docks his body-worn camera. He transfers
the video to a data repository, where he is able
to view the footage. Nothing. The officer closes the
footage and pulls up surveillance data from the polemounted
camera across from the bank, transferred
wirelessly every hour to the same centralized access
point. He sinks back into his chair with a grin. There’s
a man walking in front of the bank
just moments before the robbery.
A man in a black jacket, wearing a
This article originally appeared in the February 2016 issue of Security Today.
Brian Grainger is the chief sales officer at Spectra Logic.