The number of security cameras in use today is growing exponentially. At the same time, resolutions are getting higher and higher. These two factors are placing heavy demands on servers and storage equipment. Of course, the capacity of these systems is also increasing, but that alone does not make the equipment truly suitable for the most demanding applications - such as camera surveillance. A video stream is not comparable to 'normal' data, for which storage systems are usually designed. This article will explore how these issues can be addressed.

Hard Drive Challenges

A hard disk residing in a video storage system has a tough life. On a daily basis, large amounts of data are written and read and all sectors are continuously filled to the maximum. A hard disk designed for office applications is not able to manage this work. At first everything seems fine, but anyone closely monitoring the stored images will notice that 'frame drops' are the rule rather than the exception.

The buffers cannot handle the huge amount of data, which leads to data being lost. These lost images can be reference images within the compression algorithm, thus leading to the loss of complete fragments. Not useful if a robbery has just occurred and the perpetrator cannot be identified because the hard drive had a hiccup.

A lot of effort is put into countering these problems through the associated servers and storage systems. Compression is used to reduce the amount of data, cameras are made intelligent so no capacity is lost through unimportant images, and more and more storage is taking place in the camera itself. All of these methods have disadvantages which can be avoided by using a suitable video storage system.

Support For Large Camera Systems

Compression, for example, is at the expense of quality and should therefore be limited. Intelligent cameras fail if the criminal is even more intelligent. And in-camera storage works well - until the camera is pulled from the wall. With the right server, these risks are avoided and the user is assured of a reliable camera system.

What makes a server or storage system suitable for use with video? Technology that offers support for a large number of cameras, eliminates frame drops and contributes to highly stable operation is needed. Of course, high storage capacity is important, but at least as essential is a high processing speed. In addition, several features are needed that increase the reliability of the entire system.

Systems specifically designed for connecting cameras and installing Video Management Software are preferred
Allowing input from alarm systems means that cameras can be activated when an intruder is detected

For example, a so-called RAID configuration ensures that continuity does not depend on one disk. Multiple disks do the same work, so it does not matter if one or even two failures occur. The administrator gets a signal and can easily replace the malfunctioning disk without losing data, and it is not necessary to take the system temporarily ‘offline’. It’s true that these are features that many ‘normal’ servers and storage systems also have.

Sequential Pattern Recording

What are some other things to consider when making servers or storage systems compatible with video? For one - an efficient way to store the images. With just one camera it is not all that complicated, however, the efficient storage of images from 128 cameras may be considered a big challenge.

With a feature known as Sequential Pattern Recording, images can be stored according to a logical pattern. If they are stored in this manner, much less movement of the write heads of the disks is required. In addition, images should first be stored in a buffer, which smooths peaks in the amount of data. The buffer gradually sends the images to the disc so that the quality of the stored images does not suffer from sudden peak loads that occur in, for example, the panning or zooming of cameras. And not only do the images become more stable, this method also extends the life of the disks.

Storage systems designed
for normal data are often
not very convenient to use

Predictive Playback

Reading of the images should not be done at the expense of saving the images, and a feature known as Predictive Playback ensures this. Reading also requires a lot of system capacity. Predictive Playback determines a few seconds in advance which images are required to display. As soon as there is enough processor capacity left, processing is done. This produces an excellent display of images while the capturing of new images by the writing headers continues unhindered.

Remote Active Service

Even the most reliable technology can fail- and additional security, such as in the form of Remote Active Service, is needed. The ‘health’ of the system should be continuously monitored. If certain parts have difficulties with their job, display failures or even malfunction, the customer should be informed so that immediate repairs can be made. This will allow critical processes to proceed unimpeded.

In addition to not being fully reliable, storage systems designed for normal data are often not very convenient to use. Systems specifically designed for connecting cameras and installing Video Management Software are preferred, especially if they are easy to use, install and configure. Allowing input from alarm systems is another desirable feature, as this means that cameras can be activated when an intruder is detected or an emergency door is opened. Large storage capacities (preferably up to 100 Terabytes) are also strongly suggested.

Servers and storage systems with the features described above are out there - ready and able to go beyond ‘normal data’ and bring the performance and reliability required by IP video surveillance.

Contributed by Promise Technology

 

 

 

Download PDF version

In case you missed it

Intelligent Video Surveillance And Deep Learning Dominate MIPS 2018 Agenda
Intelligent Video Surveillance And Deep Learning Dominate MIPS 2018 Agenda

Milestone Systems is embracing artificial intelligence and deep learning in a big way at this week's yearly Milestone Community Days (MIPS 2018) in Las Vegas. The Danish company's theme is "Creating an Intelligent World," and Milestone's stated goal is to make "the Milestone community part of every surveillance installation in the world."   Science Fiction Becomes Reality In a presentation on opening day, Milestone CSMO Kenneth Hune Petersen pointed to the 2002 movie The Minority Report as highlighting a variety of gadgets and systems that seemed futuristic at the time but are now perfectly possible, and in some cases outdated. Movies have previously highlighted gadgets and systems that were futuristic, but are now perfectly possible, or outdated "If we dare to dream together we can make this a better world," says Petersen. "Through AI and machine learning, we can help define tomorrow. There's no doubt about it: There is a massive business opportunity for us in artificial intelligence." Despite all the talk about artificial intelligence, only about 0.5 percent of all the data in the world has currently been analyzed or used, says Peterson. "Our open platform technology is the foundation for intelligent video systems and our partners have the expertise and infrastructure needed to reach the next frontier in intelligent video solutions," said Bjørn Skou Eilertsen, Milestone Systems CTO. "Together, we can provide unlimited solutions for our customers." Deeper Integration And Broader Coverage Expanding the Milestone community this year has included the addition of 1,000 new models of supported hardware devices; there are currently more than 7,000 models supported. Milestone is also pursuing broader coverage of installations through their partners, with deeper integration of functionality, and by deepening existing relationships with customers. ‘Creating an intelligent world’ includes deep learning and lots of video systems, says Milestone at their annual conference Under new agreements, hardware partners such as Dell EMC and BCDVideo now provide XProtect Essential+ software pre-loaded on servers they sell. The focus at MIPS 2018 on AI included a presentation by Tanmay Bakshi, the "world's youngest IBM coder" and TED Talk speaker, at 14 years old. The prodigy, who has been coding since the age of 4, has worked with IBM and other companies on a variety of AI-related projects. Using deep learning with video is currently limited because so much video is unlabelled and unstructured In his MIPS 2018 keynote speech, Bakshi traced the development of AI through high-profile events, such as IBM's development of the "Watson" computer, which successfully competed on Jeopardy!, and Google's development of AlphaGo, a program that successfully plays the complex ancient board game, Go. Data Demands Deep-Learning Bakshi focused on security and healthcare as two disciplines where deep learning can potentially have a big impact. Using deep learning with video is currently limited because so much video is unlabeled and unstructured. Still, projections are that there will be a billion cameras worldwide by 2020, providing an over-abundance of data that demands the use of deep learning to make sense of it all. "There is a misconception that AI is meant to replace us, to make humans obsolete. AI is not replacing us. It is created by humans to amplify human skills. AI can reduce information overload to enable humans to work with the data more efficiently," said Bakshi. He suggested that AI is equivalent to IA; Bakshi's abbreviation meaning "intelligence augmented." Johnmichael O’Hare (left) of the Hartford Police Department, and Tanmay Bakshi (right) discusses key security issues of the modern day The ability to scale AI applications using "distributed deep learning" and graphics processing unit (GPU) hardware is paving the way for greater use of deep learning in video applications. Adam Scraba, Global Business Development Lead at NVIDIA, outlined the trends that are making the current "Big Bang" of deep learning possible. He said it is "the most exciting time in tech history," with "software that can write its own software" now among the tools that make previously unsolvable problems now solvable. AI-driven intelligent video analytics can now achieve "super-human" results, he said. An Intelligent World To Combat Crime Instead of sitting for hours staking out a suspected drug dealer alone, entire investigations now take hours instead of days A success story about the game-changing capabilities of video data was supplied by Hartford, Conn.'s Capital City Crime Center (C4). The Hartford police department uses video data in a "predictive policing" approach. They have created an "intelligent world with smart policing to combat drug trafficking," according to C4 Supervisor Johnmichael O'Hare of the Hartford Police Department. Instead of sitting for hours staking out a suspected drug dealer, for example, video of a site can be analyzed to determine areas with higher levels of foot traffic that indicate drug buys. The result is investigations that take hours instead of days. Hartford incorporates several technologies, including ShotSpotter gunshot detection, Briefcam video synopsis and other systems, all tied together using the Milestone platform. More than 700 attendees make MIPS 2018 the largest such event ever, and exhibits by around 60 Milestone partner companies attest to the continuing expansion of the Milestone community. [Main image:Tanmay Bakshi (left) and Johnmichael O’Hare of the Hartford Police Department (right) discuss key security issues of the modern day]

Has The Gap Closed Between Security Fiction And Security Reality?
Has The Gap Closed Between Security Fiction And Security Reality?

Among its many uses and benefits, technology is a handy tool in the fantasy world of movie and television thrillers. We all know the scene: a vital plot point depends on having just the right super-duper gadget to locate a suspect or to get past a locked door. In movies and TV, face recognition is more a super power than a technical function. Video footage can be magically enhanced to provide a perfect image of a license plate number. We have all shaken our heads in disbelief, and yet, our industry’s technical capabilities are improving every day. Are we approaching a day when the “enhanced” view of technology in movies and TV is closer to the truth? We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: How much has the gap closed between the reality of security system capabilities and what you see on TV (or at the movies)?

How Moving To Security As A Service Benefits Both Providers And End Users
How Moving To Security As A Service Benefits Both Providers And End Users

The way we purchase services and products is changing. The traditional concept of buying and owning a product is giving way to the idea that it is possible to purchase the services it offers instead. This approach has come from the consumer realisation that it is the outcome that is important rather than the tools to achieve it. For example, this approach is evident with the rise of music streaming services as opposed to downloads or physical products.   With the physical security industry becoming ever more integrated – and truly open systems now a reality – there is every reason to assume this service-lead trend will come to dominate the way our industry interacts with its clients as well. Interest In Service-Based Security There is a significant change of mindset that the security industry needs to embrace before a large-scale move to Security as a Service can take place. Like many technology sectors in the past, security providers have focussed on ‘shifting boxes’ as their definitive sales model. This approach was especially prevalent when proprietary systems were the mainstay of the security industry. Essentially, if the customer wanted more services they simply bought a new product. This was a straightforward and economic sales approach for manufacturers and installers alike.The security industry needs to embrace a change of mindset before a move to SaaS can take place The flexibility of integrated and open technology has changed the way consumers view their purchase, so it shouldn’t be any surprise that there is increased interest in a service-based approach. Customer choice equates to a change of focus and interest, with physical products being eclipsed by the benefits of the overall solution. We have already seen these changes in other technology areas, notably with smart devices and general IT systems. Cloud-based services put the onus on the result rather than which device the user chooses. This approach is even starting to manifest in areas that couldn’t have been predicted in the past, such as the car industry for example. Consumers are focusing more on the overall costs and convenience of buying a car over the specific specification of the vehicle. Equally, urban dwellers don’t necessarily want the hassle and expense of owning and parking their own vehicle anymore. If you don’t use it every day, it can make more sense to rent a vehicle only when you travel beyond public transport. For these consumers the car has become a service item for a specific journey. Benefits For End Users At the heart of this approach is the simple equation that consumers have a need and suppliers need to provide the most cost-effective, and easiest, solution. At the same time, the security operator may not necessarily want to know (or care) what specification the system has, they just want it to perform the task as required.   By discussing with consumers, we can ensure we work even more closely with them to provide the expert support they need and deserve Most security buyers will identify the specific business needs and their budget to achieve this. This is where a service approach really comes into its own. Customers need expert advice on a solution for their requirements which takes away the stress of finding the right products/systems. In the past there was always a risk of purchasing an unsuitable solution, which could potentially be disastrous. The other issue was having to budget for a big capital expenditure for a large installation and then having to find further resources once an upgrade was due when systems went end of life. Most businesses find it far easier to pay a sensible monthly or annual fee that is predictable and can easily be budgeted for. A service model makes this far easier to achieve. Great Opportunities As well as the benefits for end users, there are considerable benefits for security providers too. Rather than simply ‘shifting boxes’ and enduring the inevitable sales peaks and toughs this creates; a service sales model allows manufacturers and installers to enjoy a more stable business model. You don’t have to win new business with every product, but rather sell ongoing services for a set period. Its highly likely that the whole security industry will start to take this approach over the next few years. Manufacturers are already well aware of this shift in customer expectations and are changing their approach to meet demands.There are major opportunities on offer in return for a change of perspective in the security industry With the service and leasing approach already firmly entrenched in other industries, this is well proven in a consumer market. The airline industry is a great example. Manufacturers understand that airlines need flexibility to upscale and downscale operations and therefore whole aircraft and even individual key components (such as engines or seating) can be leased as required. Using this approach, airlines can concentrate on what customers demand and not worry about the logistics of doing this. Manufacturers and leasing businesses provide assurances and guarantees of service time for aircraft and engines, taking care of the servicing and maintenance to ensure this delivery. This approach is just as well suited for the provision of security systems. Servicing The Future Security Market Undoubtedly there are major opportunities on offer in return for a change of perspective in the security industry. However, this will involve substantial changes in some quarters to ensure the business model is aligned with the market. Overall, the security industry needs to not only develop the right systems for the market, but also to deliver them in the right way as well. This will ensure we work even more closely with customers to provide the expert support they need and deserve.