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Somebody is Watching


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A subject of surveillance

Although the subject of surveillance is not new, the value of it is being demonstrated on a regular basis, and the length of time video is held is increasing. Storage requirements for video surveillance data are huge and growing, fueled by continuing growth in the number of IP-based surveillance cameras, network video recorders (NVRs), dash cams, shoulder mounted police cameras and more. Not just government and law enforcement, video surveillance is in place in banks, hospitals, transportation, retail, gaming….it’s everywhere. And, according to Gartner, 40% of the cost of video surveillance is in storage of the footage that’s captured—and by 2019, they predict that those storage requirements will increase by 50%.

A 1080p body cam collects 5GB of data every hour. That’s a single body camera, on a single officer for a single hour. Our San Francisco police force has more than 2000 officers. I think that it would be conservative to say that only half are working on any given day in positions that would use body cameras and each of them collects just 2 hours of video footage per shift. That would add up fast: 10TB per day. If data is kept just 60 days, that means that SFPD needs more than half a petabyte of storage just for the rotating footage. Add to that the footage that is extracted for longer retention due to its connection to criminal or other relevant activity, and it’s easy to see the need for more than a petabyte of storage just for surveillance from body cameras. Add police station surveillance video, dash cameras and other sources, and that petabyte becomes petabytes.

Part of the reason for the storage growth is that footage is being kept for increasingly long periods of time. Historically, retention of surveillance footage was relatively short. Those tasked with managing it would quite frequently recycle the medium on which it was stored – in other words, just record over it. Events over the past few years, though, have increased the value of the footage over the long haul. Now there are even regulatory requirements that define retention in some places. Of course, crime-solving is a big part of the value—and footage used to solve crimes or identify suspects comes from more than just law-enforcement video surveillance systems. Businesses surveillance systems are often tapped for evidence when crimes occur nearby.

Where will we put it all?

Detail matters, and because today’s high-resolution video surveillance systems capture as much as possible in the worst of conditions—low light, motion, distance—it’s vital that the integrity of stored video footage is maintained for optimal quality. Be it from a police cruiser’s dashboard, a bank ATM or a personal device, footage needs to be kept intact, readable and secure. Scality’s Software Defined Storage is perfect for storage of surveillance video footage because it delivers highly-durable long-term protection for recorded video. And, it makes growth painless; keeping TCO low by allowing a mix and match of standard servers.

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