Data can do the hard work

by Mark Rowe

Henk van den Berg, pictured, European Sales Director at Seagate, says the surveillance industry could be transformed through better use of data.

One of the key topics of conversation between attendees at IFSEC earlier this year was the dramatic increase in the amount of data being produced across the security industry. Handling large amounts of data is something we are becoming used to in our personal lives, with our internet connected devices continually generating data for us to store. We have therefore become familiar with the term “big data”, but despite being accustomed to it, businesses are still not reaping the tangible benefits of the accumulated data.

The surveillance market is no different, with the large number of CCTV cameras and surveillance equipment across the country producing vast quantities of data. This footage has real value to businesses and can be used in a multitude of ways, from retailers looking to understand the flow of customers to city planners looking to understand traffic better. With complexity in the surveillance market only set to increase in line with data volumes, companies should be asking how they should be managing their data. What should they be doing to keep it safe and secure, while still being able to analyse it for real business insight?

Pinning down your data

Recent figures from a report by IDC highlighted that the global volume of data is set to grow to 40 zettabytes (ZB) over the next six years. With efficient storage being the first step to getting insights from data, organisations need to ensure that they are in control from the very beginning. In addition, the report also found that half of global data in 2012 was generated by the surveillance industry alone, highlighting a massive storage challenge. In the era of big data, security professionals looking to manage their data should be asking questions in two key areas. Firstly around how to manage the volume of data and secondly around the quality of that stored data. Certain industries have specific obligations to adhere to, requiring data to be stored for a minimum amount of time for example. Others have to ensure that the quality of their data is kept at a certain level in order for it to be analysed for added value. This applies to organisations who regularly need to identify individuals breaking the law such as retail outlets and public sector bodies. For both these concerns, storing data for a long period of time at high quality means storage requirements are considerable and only set to rise.

Using data

To store data at the highest possible quality, it needs to be kept on a hard drive that can be integrated with an Intelligent Video Surveillance (IVS) system to constantly record parallel video streams. These drives have to adhere to certain specific criteria, such as having the appropriate rotational vibration characteristics in multi-drive environments so that disruption to the recording process is prevented. In short, having the right drive for the right application is key.

One positive aspect to the growing amount of data is that the cost of storing high-quality surveillance data is decreasing. In turn, a growing number of companies should now be considering deploying and ISV system to accurately analyse their data. Such high capacity drives increase an organisation’s capability to plan around resolution and archive needs. In addition, specific surveillance systems are now available that can help to keep the overall cost of infrastructure low as fewer Standalone Digital Video Recorder (SDVR) slots are required to reach a higher capacity. A further benefit of surveillance specific drives is that they use far less energy and generate less heat (always a concern), meaning that overall infrastructure costs are kept down.
It is also crucial for organisations to have a plan in place for analysing the data they store, with the correct processes to make the most of what they have.

Typically, minimal analysis is carried out on real-time surveillance video streams, with the majority of analysis carried out on pre-recorded footage. If organisations can make the most of the sophisticated analytics technology in the market, they must also ensure that they have a significant capacity available to manage the high quality data.
Surveillance is used to fulfil a variety of aims, whether it be for security, analysis of traffic flow or for a multitude of other purposes. For organisations to reap the full benefits of the data analysis options available, solid foundations need to be put in place. By using integrated tools, businesses can take this data and add real, significant benefits. Organisations are waking up to the benefits that well managed, properly analysed data can deliver. Surveillance data is no different, but the proper tools need to be in place for it to provide long term gain.

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