Aligning Video Surveillance Management With Modern Camera Capabilities

Surveillance cameras have more resolution, higher quality, and higher frame rates than ever before. This quality advancement has done great things for the surveillance industry. At the same time, it has put tremendous strains on the backbone of any video management system (VMS): the recording, playback, and retention of this explosion of video data.

Beyond the day-to-day use of surveillance video, many organizations must adhere to strict retention requirements, for legal or business purposes. The value of any given video is low until it is needed, but when it is needed, its value skyrockets. Retention periods can easily reach two years for litigation purposes. In manufacturing plants with product liability exposure, retention periods extending to 99 years have been used. Today, the use of surveillance video for business intelligence is pushing retention periods further upward.

There are several shortcomings in current video surveillance storage systems that must be overcome for the practical long-term retention and usefulness of surveillance video. The primary challenge is the sheer size of the data files – a 1080p megapixel camera recording at 30 FPS can exceed 20GB of video storage per day. Multiply that by dozens to hundreds of cameras at dozens to thousands of sites and the storage requirements explode.

Most current systems cannot handle the challenges of simultaneously recording, storing, managing, searching, and/or retrieving these large amounts of data effectively, much less affordably. Systems have been historically architected to meet a different set of requirements — that put live-viewing of cameras at higher importance than managing recorded video. The inadequacies of present recording systems in retention times and video management have become more and more apparent, driving the need for better solutions.

An overarching responsibility of any video surveillance system is the admissibility of recorded video in a court of law. Chain-of-custody procedures for proper handling and submission of video and audio as evidence via a “trusted system” is of paramount concern for all surveillance systems. Video surveillance systems that break chain-of-custody procedures significantly reduce the value and practicality of using that video in litigation. With current systems, moving original surveillance video files from storage device to storage device may create legal chain-of-custody issues especially when it is not a consistent, automated procedure. Being able to migrate surveillance data files with appropriate security and authentication capabilities is a requirement for the legal admissibility of the surveillance video as evidence.

A number of approaches have been proposed in the past for capturing and storing video from surveillance cameras. Most current approaches, however, utilize only a single-tier and/or a single storage type within a computer network. This method quickly becomes unwieldy and expensive when dealing with high counts of video cameras and the video data they generate. Other approaches include archiving surveillance video to an external storage device that may fall outside the management of the initial capture system. This forces organizations to manage and support various software systems not related to the surveillance system. These types of approaches also greatly increase the effort and time it takes to find events of interest in the stored video. An integrated system across various storage types is required to keep up with evolving camera capabilities.

Another problem with today’s systems is the lack of relevant, non-visual identifiable information about the video to use for search and playback. Most systems in use today only allow surveillance video search based on the recording date or by camera identifier. This quickly becomes insufficient when a large amount of video has been collected from many cameras. An inordinate amount of time is spent sifting through original video to find an area of interest. Another challenge is the time spent waiting for the video to load and play, due to network bandwidth and congestion. In many cases, users do not know exactly where the area of interest within the recorded surveillance is and must endure this time-intensive process before they can search and retrieve what they need. A robust use of metadata and advanced search capabilities are required in a modern VMS.

Ultimately, one of the larger challenges is the use of surveillance systems by non-professionals. Many surveillance systems are installed in organizations where dedicated security personnel are not available. The system is often used and maintained by personnel that do not have the experience or background that a security or IT professional has. This requires that surveillance systems be easy to use in ways similar to software solutions these users are familiar with.

To address the growth of video surveillance systems - the increasing number of organizations utilizing surveillance video; the growing number of sites and cameras; the higher quality and frame rates of today’s cameras; the capacities required to store it all; the capabilities to find, use, and share video quickly and easily; and the novel use of surveillance video as a business asset, an updated approach is needed. Today’s solutions should allow for continuous recording, so nothing is ever missed. They must support evolving retention, compliance, and legal requirements to retain video for longer periods of time, if not forever. Solutions should provide not only ease of use, but also analysis and business insight. And solutions must be available, reliable, secure, and affordable.

Any VMS solution should address the many facets of modern-day video use and management, including:

  • Support for thousands of cameras, camera standards, and continuous recording
  • Scalable, flexible viewing and video wall implementations for operator ease and insight
  • Ability to retain video for long periods of time, securely, with the ability to meet retention, compliance, and legal requirements
  • Simple, intuitive search using metadata and other markers to get what is needed quickly
  • Systems that are reliable, available, and easy to manage
  • Systems that help provide analysis and identify new opportunities through metadata, content tagging, and applied analytics
  • Control or reduction of costs while adding functionality

For more information, including an expanded whitepaper version of this document, click here: ARQvault Video Surveillance Solution & Video Management System.

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