Video surveillance revolution: Things to look forward to

Day by day, an increasing number of IoT devices are getting connected to the network. This number will only grow and with this comes the demand for robust infrastructure that can support large streams of data. 30 minutes of 4k footage requires around 5GB of storage capacity.

Khwaja Saifuddin, Ziv Paz Nov 16th 2017

Day by day, an increasing number of IoT devices are getting connected to the network. This number will only grow and with this comes the demand for robust infrastructure that can support large streams of data. Naturally, significant investments in establishing this infrastructure are essential; existing infrastructure cannot support the connected devices’ data requirements and the access patterns involved. This is especially relevant for the growing video surveillance market.
In Asia, this market has been steadily growing, estimated to be worth USD $ 4.5 billion in 2018 (Asia-Pacific, excluding China), and will expand into a market worth USD $ 5.1 billion in 2019. In Europe, Middle East and Africa, it will be worth USD $ 4.6 billion in 2018, growing at a similar rate. However, the Asia-Pacific region is expected to lead the market from 2017 onward. Clearly, this growth will ride on the tailwinds of a developing IoT sector, and the storage demands that come with it.
For video surveillance, storage of HD videos is critical to system functioning and market growth. This storage can be localized, network-based, and/or centralized. With cameras capturing 1080p or 4k quality footage, the resulting data stream is large, and this opens up a range of potential problems. With the right infrastructure, this data can be moved to a centralized location; but this process is expensive. The transfer could also encounter a network snag, compromising the security of the data. Further, lack of connectivity could degrade the quality of service. How does one address these issues, and help make sure significant events are captured and sent for analysis?
In the recent past, the solution that has emerged is to add local storage in the camera itself –a camera that also has enough computing power for data analytics. This would make every edge unit in a surveillance system independent. Ideally, these surveillance systems need to be power efficient, low profile and be operable in a wide range of temperatures. Considering all this, flash-based memory is the solution of choice to meet the local storage demand. This kind of memory can either exist as an embedded flash drive soldered on the camera’s PCB, or as a removable or fix-mounted microSD card.

Flash is not for archive
However, this flash storage does not archive the data from the captured footage –archival would still require cloud or on-premise solutions. Instead, flash storage would provide local storage in certain scenarios.
First, if offline for some reason, a camera enabled with flash storage can still record event data or a constant stream. The capacity of this storage depends on estimated network downtime. For example, assuming that there is half an hour of lost connectivity, 30 minutes of 4k footage requires around 5GB of flash storage capacity.
Next, a ‘ring-buffer storage’ approach is possible. Here, data is stored locally and only sent to the server/cloud during non-peak hours of the network traffic. This would result in savings on connectivity costs, inclusive of incidents where no data is sent if no event was triggered. Flash storage is thus an essential cog of this system, allowing for temporary storage until the data is sent to the cloud/server.
Finally, ‘pre-processing storage’ allows the camera to send a reduced-quality stream or differential data only. In case there is a request for specific footage, the camera’s local storage is then accessed for the original high-quality video surveillance data. With this setup, the bandwidth requirement between the camera and the server/cloud remains low. Besides flash storage, surveillance cameras can hold video analytics software and reference databases also. Such a camera can run analytics such as facial recognition independently.
These benefits of enabling surveillance cameras with flash storage are significant. However, flash storage is relatively new in the video surveillance market despite being a mature technology. Flash devices in this market, engineered and optimized for industrial applications, would thus work as solutions with high endurance, reliability and performance.

The authors: Khwaja Saifuddin is Senior Sales Director for South Asia, Middle East and Africa; and Ziv Paz is Director, Product Marketing, Embedded and Integrated Solutions, at Western Digital Corporation

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