What is the value of edge-based video storage for IP surveillance systems?
One of the benefits of newer IP systems is the ability to store video inside the camera or in a nearby digital video recorder (DVR) at the edge of the network. Edge-based storage is unlikely to take the place of centralised storage, but it is complementary and provides some interesting new options related to system design. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: What is the value of edge-based storage and in what specific applications?
Higher-resolution cameras with more powerful on-board processing capabilities drive the need to store images at the edge on increasingly robust SD cards. Recording at the edge frees up network bandwidth and PC processing power, allowing users to view and manage video feeds and store applicable images for later use or transfer to the network when necessary. Video cameras that incorporate on-board storage may also minimise the amount of storage necessary on SD cards by using event or motion-based and/or audio-based recording properties – that is, only recording video if an event or preset parameters trigger local recording. For the installer, edge-based recording opens new specification possibilities and offers less installation time as these cameras are generally not network-connected. Businesses may utilise edge-based storage when they need high-resolution images but want to manage network bandwidth. They may also migrate to network-attached storage easily if their needs change.
The value and application of edge storage is, of course, entirely dependent on the capabilities of the edge device itself. Generally speaking, edge-based storage introduces the ability to store data on a device or nearby. This can make an application more tolerant to issues such as intermittent network connections and can even remove the need for a local PC to serve as a video management server.
The most significant advantage is minimisation of network traffic, so valuable when bandwidth is scarce, intermittent or expensive. If high-quality video is primarily handled by each camera (or nearby DVR) then only “minimum viable video” need load the network when demanded. The value could be prompting human intervention with alarm verification images. Live situational awareness of remote sites can help mitigate risks for the responders in what might be dangerous situations, e.g. violent trespassers, industrial hazards, lone operations, etc. Bulky high-quality evidence can, if needed, be downloaded slowly or at “quiet” network times. While bandwidth gets ever cheaper and available at more locations, still many remote places such as critical national infrastructure rely on restricted cellular GSM, long copper wires, or even satellites for data links. Mobile users such as emergency services and military can find themselves offline. Edge storage means they are not left high and dry.
Edge-based storage is designed for long-life, large-scale, geographically distributed operations and offers the scalability and flexibility these operations require. The flexible storage options are designed to meet the needs of any organisation, and users are able to search for and view video by time, date, transaction, or event to quickly pinpoint video of interest. Edge-based storage, specifically in banking, retail and transportation, helps to safeguard people and property and reduce liability and risk. Edge-based storage allows banking organisations to keep video stored for any length of time and to manage and operate wide networks from a central location. In retail, the versatility of edge-based storage allows retailers to centrally monitor and maintain their network and to store large amounts of surveillance data from one system. Edge-based solutions provide public transportation the ability to download video when a bus or train returns to the depot and email alerts when critical events occur.
Storage at the edge is part of a trend toward “distributed” rather than centralised systems. Capturing images at the edge can be useful in a system that, for example, only provides video if it is specifically needed or requested by a user. With a move to cloud-based systems, edge storage makes a lot of sense. Storing images at the edge can help to manage bandwidth concerns – bandwidth is only used for video that is needed. Edge storage can also contribute to redundancy – the images are captured and can be retrieved later, even if the network goes down. There isn’t a single point of failure. In general, storage at the edge provides an additional option that increases the flexibility of how video systems can be designed and implemented.
Many types of system components are useful to enable system designers and end users to meet their broad range of application needs. The same idea applies to storage: No single configuration or product meets every need. Rather, different types of storage excel in different situations. Storage at the edge is a welcome and useful addition to that range of choices. As our Expert Panellists point out, its uses are varied and many.
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