The Data Dilemma
Solve video surveillance with a multi-tier approach
- By Wayne Arvidson
- Aug 01, 2016
Today, smart devices seem to be everyplace—homes, cars, transit
stations, workplaces, stores, restaurants, and even on our bodies
to name just a few—capturing information and creating massive
amounts of data. According to recent reports, approximately 3 exabytes
of raw storage capacity was shipped to customers in 2015 to
address the growth. With the explosion of sensor-enabled, network-addressable
devices out there, it is no wonder storage and data analytics are such hot topics,
and both are affecting not only the way we live and work, but also in how we use
video-based data to protect ourselves.
AN INDUSTRY IN TRANSITION
The security and surveillance industry has undergone a steady transition in recent
years, and the pace is accelerating. An industry long dominated by stationary
analog cameras is embracing digital on a large scale with HD camera shipments
exceeding analog cameras for the first time in 2015.
High-resolution, multi-sensor panoramic cameras are fast-becoming the new
normal for video surveillance, streaming more HD images than ever before and
requiring huge increases in storage capacity and performance to handle it. These
new cameras produced 556 petabytes of data per day in 2015, and that is expected
to steadily increase. In fact, the total RAW capacity of enterprise storage used just
for video surveillance is expected to increase by 48 percent in 2016, according to
predictions by IHS. By 2019, the average amount of data generated daily by new
surveillance cameras is projected to reach 2.5 exabytes.
In addition, retention times are also increasing. To adhere to regulatory requirements
and protect against litigation, many companies and municipalities are
keeping surveillance data much longer—years instead of days—and that is putting
even more demand on storage infrastructures.
Another factor forcing change in the industry is the ongoing maturation and
expanded adoption of video analytics applications. Trends and patterns emerge
as data is integrated from different inputs and analyzed over long periods of time.
Analytics solutions are becoming more sophisticated, integrating video data with
other systems and sensor input and requiring data to be kept longer in order
for patterns to be determined over time. As new use cases for these applications
emerge, non-traditional business units are taking notice that video-based data—
when integrated and correlated with data from other systems—can be used to
make better business decisions. Logistics companies use video data to track cargo
through ports and rail yards to improve efficiency. Retail companies use video to
observe shopper behavior to make better decisions regarding product placement,
store layout, and advertising. Municipalities use video to analyze traffic flow, reduce
congestion, and increase commerce.
Given the industry challenges and new uses for video-based data via enhanced
analytics, storage is no longer just a peripheral consideration. It is the foundation of
today’s—and tomorrow’s—security and surveillance system. As a result, storage architecture
decisions need to be made carefully in order to meet the future demands.
STORAGE INFRASTRUCTURES DESIGNED FOR
COMPLEX SURVEILLANCE ENVIRONMENTS
Today’s storage infrastructure for video surveillance must be high-performing,
scalable and affordable. It must provide the capability to keep video files for a long
time while providing easy access and retrieval. The best approach is to implement
a tiered architecture, especially one that can be tuned specifically for processing
video files and viewed as a single file system.
In a tiered architecture, multiple levels of storage exist. The architecture consists
of high performance disk, secondary disk, tape, and cloud storage structured
in tiers, enabling data sets to be stored on the most cost-effective medium based
on user-defined policies. High priority, frequently-used files are stored on high performance
disk while lower priority files are stored on tape or in the cloud. Done
well, the architecture provides a single file system view, and the system manages
the movement of data between tiers keeping the metadata intact, allowing files to
be retained economically for a long period of time and still remain accessible for
analysis when needed.
Whether implementing new fixed cameras, expanding existing installations, or
implementing new law enforcement solutions via body-worn or vehicle-mounted
cameras, selecting the right storage infrastructure is essential in order to build the
right foundation. But regardless of which configuration is implemented the full
benefits of a tiered storage solution are available, including high-performance,
scalable capacity, low-cost alternatives for long-term retention, and accessibility
through a single file system interface.
FIXED CAMERA ENVIRONMENTS
Sometimes it seems that cameras are everywhere. Stationary cameras monitor public
and commercial buildings, transit stations, ports, and a host of other spaces,
and more are installed every day. Camera counts can vary widely depending on the
need—anywhere from tens of units to tens of thousands of units, and all points in
between. Implementing a storage infrastructure that can grow as camera counts
increase, camera technology changes and file sizes get bigger can be a challenge.
For fixed camera storage environments it is vital that the basic foundational elements
of a robust storage infrastructure can be implemented in the beginning, and
then scaled accordingly to address increasing capacity needs over time.
EXPANDING EXISTING INSTALLATIONS
As already mentioned, deploying more cameras and shifting to HD technology
stresses existing storage infrastructures, forcing the infrastructure to change. However,
with existing installations, sizeable investments in storage infrastructure have
already been made, making expansion difficult without throwing away money.
This is where gateway reference architectures can help.
A gateway architecture can provide customers with the ability to migrate to a
tiered storage infrastructure without sacrificing the investment they have already
made in their existing infrastructure. No forklift upgrade is required. The foundational
elements of a tiered architecture can be implemented alongside the existing infrastructure and used for new camera
installations. With the foundation in
place, existing storage can be retired
over time as refresh cycles dictate, and
new capacity added to the tiered system
in its place. Using this approach saves
money by protecting investments made
in storage while not slowing down the
move to new HD technology.
MOBILE CAMERA INSTALLATIONS
While first responders, like paramedics
and firefighters may use them, mobile
cameras are most often used by law enforcement
staff. Video footage captured
by body-worn and vehicle-mounted
cameras serves as crucial evidence in
helping bring criminals to justice, and
provides a valuable tool to meet the
public demand for greater police accountability
Video data from mobile cameras
adds another layer of complexity to police
operations that are already struggling
with understaffed IT departments
trying to manage volumes of digital evidence
from still images, audio recordings
from wiretaps, and recorded video
from interviews and interrogations. A
mobile camera reference architecture as
seen in figure 3 below can help alleviate
some of the challenges.
With a tiered architecture for mobile
camera environments, law enforcement
personnel can access video files
and maintain control of the data for
evidence management without relying
on a dedicated IT staff. In addition, the
cost-effective nature of storing files on
the least expensive tier delivers robust
functionality without busting departmental
Data is vital for efforts to improve our
society and to spur ongoing innovation.
Technological advancements and
the Internet of Things are making it
possible to capture and use unprecedented
amounts of data. Success in every
industry, including security and surveillance,
is increasingly dependent on
finding creative new uses for data and
technology, driving significant changes
in IT infrastructure.
Keeping up with the increased demand
for capacity and unlocking the
value of video-based data through
enhanced analytics requires a storage
infrastructure that is flexible, high-performing
and affordable. Today, storage
is no longer a peripheral consideration.
It is the foundation of a robust surveillance
system, and selecting the right
storage solution is essential. Managing
video data from new fixed cameras,
or expanding existing installations, or
implementing new law enforcements
solutions, all can benefit from tiered
storage architecture, the most scalable,
cost-effective approach to meeting the
need for more capacity.
This article originally appeared in the August 2016 issue of Security Today.