Surveillance: covering all the angles

Editorial Type: Opinion Date: 2021-04-01 Views: 72 Tags: Storage, Surveillance, Cloud, Compliance, Security, Data protection, Wasabi PDF Version:
David Friend, CEO and co-founder, Wasabi Technologies, discusses different approaches aimed at fixing the storage issues raised by putting surveillance data in the cloud

The value of video surveillance for security purposes has become increasingly attractive over the last few decades. Whether it is public sector bodies looking to improve public safety, or companies building new customer experiences that rely on surveillance systems, like Amazon's futuristic "till-less" grocery store which has just launched in London, the surveillance video market is projected to grow to more than US$68 billion between 2020 and 2025.

The value of video surveillance for security purposes has become increasingly attractive over the last few decades. Whether it is public sector bodies looking to improve public safety, or companies building new customer experiences that rely on surveillance systems, like Amazon's futuristic "till-less" grocery store which has just launched in London, the surveillance video market is projected to grow to more than US$68 billion between 2020 and 2025.

Much of this growth is being driven by increasing transitions from analogue to Internet Protocol (IP) based video surveillance systems and digital upgrades on already existing hybrid systems - between 2017 and 2018 the rate of investment in network cameras jumped by almost ten percent to 70% of total cameras shipped. Despite the pandemic, many companies have taken the last year as an opportunity to invest in revamping their surveillance video solutions. And whilst surveillance in some areas raises important considerations around data privacy, there's no doubt it has become an increasingly important part of most organisations' security strategies.


"Given we're moving beyond 4K now and into the realm of 8K and 10K cameras, the data generated is proliferating rapidly. The amount of data created by way of these higher resolution cameras has vastly overwhelmed many organisations' storage budgets, and most firms are only coping with it by reducing frame rates and storing data for only a few days before it has to be deleted. Given these are both undesirable options, the industry is clearly in need of much less costly storage options than the on-premises hardware solutions traditionally used."

VIDEO STORAGE BOOMING
The amount of data stored globally is anticipated to reach 175 zettabytes by 2025 according to IDC/Seagate research, and a major part of this growth will be generated by video footage. One 4K video camera on its own is able to generate over 250GB of data per day, all of which needs to be stored, assuming low frame rates and enhanced compression codecs. Given we're moving beyond 4K now and into the realm of 8K and 10K cameras, the data generated is proliferating rapidly.

The amount of data created by way of these higher resolution cameras has vastly overwhelmed many organisations' storage budgets, and most firms are only coping with it by reducing frame rates and storing data for only a few days before it has to be deleted. Given these are both undesirable options, the industry is clearly in need of much less costly storage options than the on-premises hardware solutions traditionally used.

The increasing usage of body worn video cameras (BWVs) in different contexts is a good example of how progress in surveillance is increasing data demands. In the last few years UK supermarkets like Asda have provided security guards with BWVs, and others are likely to follow suit. Meanwhile the police have long been aware of these tools - a pilot scheme by the London's Metropolitan Police in 2016 has led to wider rollout all over the UK as police forces and local communities have increasingly recognised the merit of such tools. It follows that the Metropolitan Police recently chose an unlimited data contract as part of their surveillance contract to future-proof themselves against burgeoning requirements.

One or two hours of footage generated by a typical BWV camera, the average amount generated per day, requires around 3GB of data storage space which will grow significantly in the coming years as these cameras are upgraded to higher resolutions and better capabilities. Strict regulations are also compelling organisations to keep captured footage on file for longer. Today, airport guidelines require video of on-camera injuries, thefts or conflicts to be stored for seven years at a minimum - that's hundreds of gigabytes of data if we consider that incidents are normally captured by multiple cameras and from different angles.

A five year commitment for body cams for one hundred police officers will cost in the region of US$500,000 - and almost two-thirds of that is for the storage alone. Because of such costs, many police departments and private security firms tend to only keep body cam footage for periods of time as little as two weeks.

THE RIGHT CLOUD APPROACH
For companies needing to expand the amount of video footage they can store, there are typically two routes available. Either picking a single vendor solution from a hyper-scaler which incorporates everything you need - cameras, software and storage all in one, or selecting a systems integrator package, where you purchase a bespoke solution via a third-party.

The single vendor option is convenient in many ways, but can prove costly in the long term, given you could be locked into only using their cloud storage provider for a number of years whose services can be marked up at a whim. It can be hard to justify such an expensive solution when independent cloud storage solutions can store the same amount of data for a tenth of the price or less.

It's also worth considering the data security implications of an all-in-one solution. This week it came out that one of the largest Video Surveillance as a Service (VSaaS) vendors suffered a huge data breach that affected customers globally with hackers gaining access to 150,000 video cameras and archived footage.

Everything from hospitals to schools, enterprise corporations, police departments, and prisons were compromised, which raises the likelihood of additional problems, such as interruptions in the chain of custody for evidence in law enforcement contexts, or compliance breaches where healthcare regulation is concerned. Whilst a VSaaS solution can prove attractive for security departments looking to remove the burden of excessive management and admin, it cannot be denied that a solution that secures both live stream footage and storage of video in transit and at rest is objectively better.

Using a hybrid cloud solution that air-gaps video management software (VMS) on-premises, while utilising the cloud primarily for storage, is one of the best ways to secure surveillance video data. Such a solution is designed to mitigate against potential problems that crop up in using a pure cloud solution for surveillance applications, from maintaining operational effectiveness (e.g. speed, bandwidth and guarding against latency) as well as legal requirements that may require data retention for years on end. In a surveillance context, most recent video would be stored locally for sake of speed - where it usually only needs to be stored for a day or two, subsequently being copied to the cloud where it can be kept for as long as the organisation needs it.

Picking a provider that enables you to make video files "immutable" to protect it against malicious data destruction should also be a key feature of your surveillance storage strategy. Some providers offer services that allow you to store data in immutable "buckets" which in object storage terms operate similar to folders on PCs or Macs. Data stored in these buckets cannot be modified or deleted by anyone, enabling you to store data in them for several decades.

Companies can get on top of their surveillance storage needs by partnering with a solution that allows maximum flexibility in storing and managing unlimited data. This will empower security decision makers to carry out their duties as effectively as possible to protect and serve stakeholders.

More info: www.wasabi.com