Getting a handle on surveillance video
The use of surveillance cameras is rapidly expanding as is the amount of video surveillance data they generate. To manage this data and support the analytics tools needed to interpret it, law enforcement and other government organizations should have a strong data storage foundation that meets the following six key criteria.
1. Robust security. Security is the first and foremost concern for agencies considering storage platforms to support surveillance applications. Any solution should deliver the ability to both strictly control access to video surveillance data and make data unchangeable to preserve integrity.
To control access, a storage platform should offer comprehensive policy-based governance. Robust auditing tools should also be available for monitoring data access and providing detailed reports.
Data can be made unchangeable with write-once read-many technology. With WORM storage, data cannot be altered or deleted once written. Organizations specify a retention period and, during that time, the data is unalterable. In addition to being a compliance requirement for some data types, WORM also protects agencies by preventing malware from encrypting their data and locking them out. If live production data suffers a malware attack, agencies can restore the data with a simple recovery process. WORM ensures that highly secure data such as surveillance video cannot be jeopardized.
2. Rich metadata. Metadata can be used to describe colors, sizes, gender, location, etc., making it more efficient for agencies dealing with vast amounts of surveillance footage to easily search through videos and identify patterns. Unfortunately, traditional storage solutions, including many network-attached storage systems, have limited metadata tagging capabilities. As a result, IT staff must manually comb through all the data to find important scenes, a painstaking and error-prone process.
Newer storage architectures, such as object storage, incorporate rich metadata, enabling much greater searchability and facilitating artificial intelligence and machine learning applications.
3. Scalability. Given the rapid growth of surveillance data, storage systems must be highly scalable, with the ability to start small and grow with the addition of storage nodes. This can best be achieved with modular scale-out storage solutions that can scale without service interruption to accommodate hundreds of petabytes of data across multiple data centers while maintaining simple, single-point management.
4. Data resiliency and accessibility. Storage solutions should provide robust data resiliency and protection, through either replication or erasure coding. With erasure coding, data is fragmented and spread across different nodes, either in one site or at multiple sites. In case of node failure -- or even a site failure -- the data can be fully reconstructed from fragments on active nodes, providing an efficient data protection scheme with optimal capacity utilization.
5. Compliance. Compliance is also a key element of data resiliency and protection. Government organizations must be sure their storage platforms are compliant with all regional and national data laws. For example, any agency operating in the European Union must comply with General Data Protection Regulation guidelines, while California firms must conform to the California Consumer Privacy Act.
Agencies should also be sure their storage solution has earned a Common Criteria for Information Technology Security Evaluation certification. The Common Criteria certification is the gold standard for ensuring IT solutions meet rigorous security standards for deployments in highly sensitive government settings. Common Criteria is recognized by 27 countries internationally, including the United States.
6. Hybrid cloud-ready. Given the sensitive nature of surveillance data, most agencies will want to keep their data on premises or in a private cloud. However, the public cloud provides a cost-effective, convenient option for backup and disaster recovery. The public cloud also offers access to AI engines that aren’t always available on-premises. Ultimately, a hybrid cloud approach provides the best of both worlds by keeping one copy of data in a private cloud for fast local access, and a second copy in a low-cost, archival public cloud for disaster recovery. With this strategy in mind, agencies should look for a storage platform that supports a hybrid cloud approach, including the ability to move data seamlessly across on-premises and public cloud environments.
As surveillance plays an ever-larger role in ensuring security, government organizations will face increasing scrutiny over how they manage the resulting volumes of video surveillance data. By deploying storage solutions that meet the criteria above, these organizations can stay on top of this challenge.
Jon Toor is chief marketing officer at Cloudian.