Smarter Infrastructure

Smarter Infrastructure

Safer cities count on efficient and advanced solutions for sustainable operations

Smart city initiatives are growing across the globe, as leaders look to increase security and intelligence across metropolitan environments. At the heart of these projects is the deployment of efficient and advanced solutions to help ensure safe, intelligent and sustainable operations. The data from these sources is what drives more proactive security operations and stronger risk management. The backbone of any smart city is the information collected and analyzed from an array of connected devices.

Although an intelligent infrastructure is the foundation of a smart city because it allows key stakeholders to quickly and efficiently manage and access data, in essence, the growth of the smart city market is driven by the Internet of Things (IoT). Increasing IoT deployments and the rising demand for other smart technologies create the ability to coordinate data, applications and services across domains for multiple stakeholders.

This market is only growing: Analysis from Frost & Sullivan forecasts that smart cities will create tremendous business opportunities with a global market value of more than $2 trillion by 2025, driven by an increased adoption of Big Data analytics, increased connectivity and higher interest in IoT devices and services.

Video Data

Video surveillance is a key part of any smart city program because it helps operators gain higher levels of situational awareness and intelligence. Over time, cities have built substantial video networks, but these solutions are often decentralized, outdated, prone to failures and costly to maintain—essentially, they are still built around the analog approach of the past. With increased interest in connected devices and AI-driven tools, such as realtime analytics, there is a critical need to update infrastructures to fully obtain the benefits of new technology.

The landscape of video surveillance and security is changing as rapidly as the IoT market. Higher resolution and IP cameras are expected, and new use cases, including body-worn, traffic management and in-vehicle cameras, are introduced on a daily basis. Users also want to retain data for longer periods of time. The result is that the data being generated and stored by surveillance systems is exploding.

In addition to effectively monitoring, storing, securing, processing and mobilizing data from hundreds to thousands of cameras and sensors spread across a city at all times, a city’s IT infrastructure solution must integrate seamlessly with existing and new IoT technologies and support the multi-use case demands of smart city initiatives. Traditional infrastructure solutions are not designed to withstand the data generated from IoT sensors, new video uses and enterprise-class video deployments and therefore often fall short of fulfilling the goals of smart city initiatives. What all this leads to is an increase in cost and complexity, and at worst case, poorly planned deployments that create an overall inability of security and video surveillance systems to do the job they were initially designed to do.

A Smarter Approach

The biggest challenge with these programs is how to effectively store and manage captured video and aligned data, and because the perceived value of video has increased, stakeholders must ensure this critical information is protected. Instances in which live or recorded video becomes inaccessible and data is lost can lead to compliance issues, vulnerabilities and operational shutdowns. Therefore, assuring the protection of video data is paramount to any smart city initiative.

Technologies once traditionally relied on to store video, such as NVRs and DVRs, cannot provide the performance or reliability needed for the large-scale IoT and security deployments we’re seeing in today’s environment. Traditional enterprise storage appliances are often too expensive and complex for video-specific deployments because they are not designed to manage the write-intensive nature of video data.

Storage and data management platforms that deliver robust enterprise-class IT capabilities through advanced levels of video and data protection, system performance and cost efficiencies are the future of smart city deployments. One such option is hyper converged infrastructure (HCI), which allows for the consolidation of video management, IoT data collection, video and data analytics, storage, access control and other related applications onto a simple to deploy, easy to manage converged infrastructure.

HCI streamlines video management and storage capabilities by hosting software, servers and storage management on a single platform. This technology is ideal for security and IoT applications because it offers extreme resilience, which is important in mission-critical environments that have demanding data protection and retention requirements in order to mitigate risk and ensure compliance. If multiple hardware failures occur, servers remain online and previously recorded data is protected and available when needed. Furthermore, HCI can support mixed workloads and can host multiple applications on a single infrastructure, delivering significant return on investment as a city’s security and IT needs evolve.

HCI also eliminates the complexity of managing separate physical servers and storage, and provides a more seamless way to scale the infrastructure as camera or sensor counts grow and analytics demands increase. This facilitates a smooth expansion as funding for smart city initiatives expands or data retention requirements change. Furthermore, a single point of management provides operators and IT staff with a centralized view of the entire environment.

The Future is Today

The biggest challenge with today’s Safe City programs is how to effectively store and manage captured data. Often times, the volume of video information collected from modern systems can be overwhelming. IoT devices and intelligent platforms will help cities identify what data is most valuable to their operations. But ensuring the protection of security data is critical to this endeavor.

HCI is just one of the new IT solutions that can have a positive impact on a city’s security efforts. There are many emerging solutions to consider and evaluate as metropolitan environments seek to modernize their operations. With innovations being introduced on a daily basis, the sky is the limit.

This article originally appeared in the November/December 2018 issue of Security Today.

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