Historically, storage has been a challenge for video system designers and installers, with requirements rising along with camera resolutions. The addition of big data, the Internet of Things (IoT), integrated systems and IT applications to the mix have multiplied storage needs exponentially.

Another thing contributing to increased storage demands is the expanded use of video surveillance for more than just security. Video deployments are growing rapidly because organisations recognise the value of video data for a wide variety of purposes, including operational efficiency, situational awareness, risk mitigation and even marketing and merchandising.

Wide application of video surveillance

Right now, video is the most prominent big data application in the world, and these applications are having a direct impact on storage technologies,” said Brandon Reich, Vice President of Security and IoT, Pivot3, Austin, Texas.

While storage has always been an essential part of any video surveillance system, in the current market, it is critically important,” he adds.

Efficient video storage

Since data is so valuable, the process of storing it becomes one of the most important components of a system"

Since data is so valuable, the process of storing it becomes one of the most important components of a system,” Reich said, adding “When it comes to video storage, there are myriad ways to save video, but many of these solutions are not designed for the complexities of video surveillance deployments or cannot handle the rapid rate in which video is recorded.

According to IHS Markit, the global enterprise and IP storage market is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of around 24 percent between 2016 and 2021. However, the demand for high-resolution images, and the associated storage requirements have held back overall market growth.

Affordable high-resolution cameras

The combination of high-resolution cameras becoming more affordable and the growth in data storage in general has created increased demand for reliable, affordable video storage solutions.

End users and systems integrators alike are primarily looking for reliable, high-capacity, surveillance; purpose-built drives that support multiple cameras; enhanced vibration; 24x7 availability; and firmware to maximise streaming and frame rate performance,” said Jessica Burton, Global Product Marketing Manager, Seagate Technology, Cupertino, Calif.

Factors affecting video storage platforms

According to Brian Carle, Director of Product Strategy, Salient Systems, Austin, Texas, there are several factors affecting storage platform selection: scalability, speed, storage management, fault tolerance, reliability, and cost.

For more distributed or lower camera count systems, the scalability and speed that comes with platforms such as storage attached networks (SANs) are generally unnecessary.

Video storage technologies

Most storage technologies provide a suitable speed for the needs of video surveillance"

Brain said, “Most storage technologies provide a suitable speed for the needs of video surveillance. The notable exception is tape systems, which may be considered for deployments requiring low-cost, long-term, onsite storage such as some deployments in the cannabis industry.

He adds, “If real-time access is required then tape may not be ideal. Accessing archived video on tape may require a manual import process due to the latency associated with robotics accessing a tape which contains the appropriate data.

Rise of Artificial Intelligence

Higher resolutions and frame rates mean higher storage requirements. That’s an unavoidable truth that has given rise to a number of innovations, including compression algorithms and deployment of video analytics in an effort to alleviate storage requirements and concerns.

Jessica Burton said, “While having onboard analytics capabilities is not new, there is one big change. Built-in artificial intelligence (AI) solutions are becoming capable of ever more complex recognition and analysis with greater accuracy and speed. This allows them to solve problems and suggest potential solutions very quickly.”

Data interpretation using deep-learning algorithms

Burton adds, “Video is a complex form of data, and interpreting it requires systems capable of running deep-learning algorithms. So bringing the power of AI closer to the source of data is important.

She further said, “As data analysis applications shift from being centralised in cloud data centres to being out at the edge, developers are putting AI directly onto the systems that support cameras, video recorders and the video servers in the field.

Importance of choosing right storage architecture

When it comes to choosing a video storage solution, a main factor that integrators should consider is the architecture upon which it is built.

This is not a one-size-fits-all marketplace; it’s not even a one-100 terabyte solution-fits-all marketplace,” said Tom Larson, Vice President, BCDVideo, Buffalo Grove, Illinois, adding “Integrators need to understand the end user’s needs and deliver the proper solution. But to do so effectively, they need to understand what the pros and cons are of each architecture.

There are three primary architectures to draw from, which include distributed, centralised and hyper-converged.

Centralised storage architecture

Centralised storage is a server-based system with SAN or scaled network attached storage (NAS)

Distributed storage consists of servers with storage contained within the chassis. This model offers cost and performance benefits, but is not a high-availability solution.

Centralised storage is a server-based system with SAN or scaled network attached storage (NAS), with the benefits being that all servers and storage are in one location, making it easy to service and the solution can be easily scaled. The drawback is the higher price and requirement of a robust network.

Hyper-converged architecture

The hyper-converged model utilises servers within the cluster to eliminate any single point of failure. This is the only architecture that can ensure access to the archived video, and like the centralised model, hyper-converged storage can be easily scaled and requires a robust network.

When designing and specifying a system, security integrators should make sure customers know the maximum capacity required to record a system 24/7 at full resolution, what will be necessary to support additional cameras in the future, and how that will be accomplished.

Optimal use of video storage, bandwidth

After the ramifications of capturing everything in real time at full resolution are understood, the integrator has the opportunity to discuss technology that will allow the user to save storage space and bandwidth, such as record on motion, record on schedule and bandwidth throttling,” said Mark Espenschied, Director of Marketing, Digital Watchdog, Cerritos, California.

Mark adds, “Just like all your other data, consider what needs to be saved and what is not critical to be retained. With NAS devices and cloud storage, you could back up everything forever. But do you need to do that?

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Thermal cameras and smart cities: Preventing COVID-19 in public places
Thermal cameras and smart cities: Preventing COVID-19 in public places

With the pandemic still in full swing and no certainty as to when exactly it will come to an end, the world has been battling anxiety for months now. And with each day, circumstances change quickly and almost make it impossible to predict what will happen next, how events will unfold, and what actions to take in light of a new situation. But one thing is certain: the world has been shut down and paralysed for way too long, and the eventual reopening is unavoidable – in fact, it’s well under way. In this situation, what is possible to control is how the world will continue reopening – and specifically, how to ensure the safest possible reopening that will ensure the return of some degree of normalcy to people’s lives and business operations, while also managing the risk of COVID’s spread in the most efficient way. 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Here are some applications that have been successful to date and will increase in usability in the foreseeable future, creating “smart cities” working together towards a safer, more secure world. Maintaining social distancing practices The most important step everyone around the world has taken to contribute to the effort of slowing the spread of the virus has been social distancing. A six-foot-distance has become a new social norm that has quickly been adopted globally and become a habit to people who are naturally used to being close to others and socialising without giving distance a second thought. The star of the past decade has been artificial intelligence So, it is natural that such distancing measures take time to get accustomed to – and it is also natural that individuals may forget about them from time to time. To help maintain the six-foot distance between people at all times and give them slight nudges to keep the rule top of their minds, AI video technology can be trained to estimate the distance between individuals in public and commercial areas and identify the cases in which people get too close to each other. By notifying local merchants or authorities about such cases, the system can help ensure the safety of everyone in the area at all times while positively reinforcing the public to gradually get more accustomed to maintaining the distance and thus helping stop the spread of the virus. Detecting the virus through facial recognition Perhaps the straightforward application of such high-level technology is using video surveillance to identify persons of interest who have tested positive for the virus. 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To this extent, the object detection and identification abilities of smart cameras can further reinforce this requirement and ensure that the absence of protective equipment doesn’t go unnoticed.  Essentially, these cameras can easily identify if an individual has coverage at any given point of time or not, notifying the local authorities about any risks immediately and helping them maintain necessary safety measures without having to interrupt their workflow or worry about missing a visitor without a mask. Detecting high temperature One of the key (and the most widespread) symptoms of COVID-19 is a high fever - a certain indicator of whether an individual may have been infected with the virus or not. While identifying fever with a regular human eye is nearly impossible, AI can do so at a fraction of time by quickly scanning body temperatures of any incoming individuals and determine whether it’s above CDC’s recommended temperature of 100.4F in order to determine the risk factor and notify the local authorities to take action. Modern AI has the ability to identify facial features and characteristics with a unique level of granularity This technology is a good tactic to objectively assess potential risks that come with elevated temperatures - and sometimes, the people themselves might not realise they might (unconsciously) be carriers of the virus and thus endanger the safety of others in their vicinity. The technology is yet another step towards ensuring a safer reopening of the global economy and a more streamlined way of getting back on track while minimising the risk of spreading the virus further. It’s not all about the theory  We have tested the described approaches in our own R&D campus in Europe. The latest release of the IREX cloud enables remote fever detection and monitoring of social isolation and mask policies with AI. We have integrated thermal cameras to detect people with elevated temperature and CCTV cameras for identification and notifying those who potentially ill. In case of any health threat, the venue manager gets an instant message with a picture and exact location. These preventive steps helped our employees return to the office months earlier than it's happening in other countries. Moreover, personnel coming back to the office by their own wish as now they feel a virus-free environment in the campus - even safer than in their own homes. Now we are launching a pilot project for a well-known pharmacy chain in Florida, USA. With the help of a Computer Vision platform, staff will be able to divide customer traffic into those with normal body temperature and those who come in with elevated temperatures, as well as effectively monitor social distance norms. The goal of our potential client is to maximise the safety of customers in the post-pandemic period. Also, IREX is already deployed across hundreds of locations in the UK and will add health monitoring capability soon.

Why cloud-enabled physical security must be part of your long-term digital strategy
Why cloud-enabled physical security must be part of your long-term digital strategy

COVID-19 and the resultant lockdown saw an unprecedented demand for cloud-enabled technologies across Europe. Such services enabled people to stay connected and allowed some businesses to relocate personnel and continue to operate successfully. With enterprise-focused video conferencing mobile app downloads showing a weekly 90% increase in comparison to pre-COVID-19 figures, it’s clear that cloud services have proven invaluable in these challenging times. Now, as the benefits to business of cloud technology become apparent, and the grip of COVID-19 begins to loosen, senior decision makers must consider the learnings from the past few months and look to apply them to boost productivity, streamline costs or become more agile in the long term. Digital transformation presents some enticing advantages for those companies that have been slow to adapt. The physical security industry, traditionally video surveillance cameras (CCTV) and access control, will have witnessed how cloud infrastructure is not only cost effective and safe, but is a force multiplier for connecting platforms, services and people with potent business benefits. The future is VSaaS and ACaaS In today’s modern, connected world, dated technologies are giving way to their cloud-enabled successors, video surveillance as-a-service (VSaaS) and access control as-a-service (ACaaS). In this context, cameras and readers are added to a network as IoT devices that bring security systems up to date and represent a vital component in any modern, cyber-secure digital strategy. Frictionless access control has meant touch free access to buildings But better security is just one benefit of a much greater system that can bring real value. Built in analytics, for example, that utilise the data from network video cameras and smart access control devices, produce valuable business insights that help to inform and automate decision making. In the recent pandemic, frictionless access control has meant touch free access to buildings; while occupancy tools have helped retailers adhere to strict government guidelines on social distancing. And as more security equipment becomes connected to the wider IT network, the advantages have not been lost on the IT industry that is expressing more than a passing interest in the adoption and management of such systems. Morphean recently conducted a survey of 1000 IT decision makers across the UK and Europe, with the purpose of providing clarity around their security purchasing intent in the 2020s. Findings revealed that as many as 84% of IT managers are currently using or considering VSaaS or ACaaS systems, pointing to an appreciation of the convergence of physical security and IT security, and a willingness to embrace systems when integrated with IT in the cloud. An adaptable business model with recurring revenues Of course, it is not just the IT industry that is changing mindsets towards hosted physical security. As a result of COVID-19, end customers are demanding it too and found it easier to scale at speed when business circumstances changed. Rather than being tied to fixed IT infrastructure on premises, a hosted solution offered greater dexterity as operational challenges around the pandemic arose. Businesses were able to customise and scale quickly to meet ongoing need without the need for large upfront capital investment, instead, paying for the convenience as-a-service out of operational expenditure as a monthly cost. 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Instead, convenient and recurring monthly payments will have put the installer on a firmer footing and guaranteed ongoing vendor support backed by the latest software updates and firmware upgrades to ensure delivery of a high quality service that’s always up to date and online. What is driving your digital strategy? VSaaS and ACaaS provide a flexible and fluid security and business solution Cloud is here to stay. Its resilience and ability to connect the world during the COVID-19 pandemic has proved its worth, even to the uninitiated who have now witnessed first-hand the value of connected systems. VSaaS and ACaaS provide a flexible and fluid security and business solution to meet the demands of a rapidly evolving industry, where the changing threat landscape means investing in the cloud is an investment towards success. CEOs and CIOs within the physical security reseller industry must learn the lessons and apply the learnings to drive their businesses forward in the ‘new normal’ where hosted security solutions must surely play a major part to expand their offering to a wiser customer base. Cloud-enabled physical security solutions represent an investment into improving security and operations, and a chance to forge new business relationships to face the challenges of an ever changing world.

Facial recognition: Contactless solutions for a safe, post-pandemic world
Facial recognition: Contactless solutions for a safe, post-pandemic world

Facial recognition technology has come a long way since it first came to market several years ago. Initially plagued with technical challenges and widely viewed as a futuristic solution, facial recognition is now firmly implanted in numerous consumer and business products and applications. New advancement in software, specifically in the areas of algorithms, neural networks and deep learning and/or artificial intelligence (AI), have all dramatically improved both the performance and accuracy of facial recognition, further expanding its use for an increasing number of applications. From a purely business perspective, facial recognition’s powerful identification and authentication capabilities make it ideal for two primary applications: first as a security tool, and second as a workforce management solution. The touchless, accurate credential solution Facial recognition readers meet the new emerging need to limit physical exposure to germs and viruses Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the touchless nature of facial recognition as an access credential was gaining traction with physical and cyber security professionals. By using an individual’s face as an access control credential, facial recognition eliminates the need and expense of physical cards and proximity devices, or the need to physically enter PIN codes. In addition, facial recognition readers meet the new emerging need to limit physical exposure to germs and viruses by offering a highly accurate touchless access control credentialing solution. As a workforce management tool, facial recognition helps preserve the health of employees checking into work, while providing management with an infallible means of documenting employee time and attendance while providing a detailed history of overall workforce activity and individual personnel tracking. Both of which have been longstanding challenges due to easily compromised time tracking systems and practices. Now, nothing is left to question based on hard data. With the growing popularity of facial recognition technology, there are many choices already available with more undoubtedly on the way. Selecting the right solution for your specific access control and/or workforce management application is dependent on a very wide range of variables. But there are a few core characteristics that you should look for when evaluating facial recognition readers. Wide and near-angle LEDs Most facial recognition terminals employ some form of IR (Infrared) technology to help ensure high visibility by the unit’s image sensor. This often limits where the unit can be installed such as outdoors or near windows due to strong ambient light. More advanced facial recognition readers employ as many as 80 wide-angle near infrared LEDs and 60 narrow-angle near infrared LEDs, allowing the unit to recognise faces even in full daylight and brightly lit environments (not direct sun). This enables installation at indoor locations near windows, lobbies and building entries. 3D pixel intensity distribution analysis Another facial recognition reader advancement to look for involves three-dimensional pixel intensity analysis. Ambient lighting contains ultraviolet rays which can negate near infrared LED lighting, and can also cast shadows making it difficult for a facial recognition reader to pinpoint the facial recognition points required for identification and authentication. Three-dimensional pixel intensity distribution analysis minimises the effects of ambient light when acquiring facial images by minimising lighting contrasts. As a result, it is easier for the algorithm to recognise the shape of the face, enabling it to extract more facial features and create higher quality face templates, which are critical for accurate facial recognition. Functional ergonomics This results in a faster, more comfortable, and convenient user experience The angle and position of a facial recognition reader directly impact the performance of the unit. Facial recognition readers with different viewing angles for built-in visual and infrared cameras allows users to stand at positions that are most suitable for facial recognition with little or no effort of contortions. This results in a faster, more comfortable, and convenient user experience. High performance processing Like any intelligent edge device, the performance of a facial recognition solution is directly reliant on its processing power. New advanced facial recognition readers deliver exceptional performance by employing enhanced face template extraction technology combined with powerful processor. For example, a facial recognition reader with a 1.4 GHz quad-core processor can perform up to 3,000 facial database matches (1:N) within one second. More advanced solutions also feature Group Matching functionality capable of executing up to 30,000 matches within one second. Live face detection It is most important that the facial recognition readers you evaluate are capable of analysing faces in real time to maintain fluid entry/egress even during high volumes of employee traffic. Hardware-dependent live face detection systems employing technologies such as facial thermogram recognition and facial vein recognition require expensive hardware components, provide less accurate matches and slower authentication performance, which is counterintuitive for mainstream access control and workforce management applications. Dual authentication for added security Although the use of an advanced facial recognition reader provides the convenience, health benefits and cost-savings of touchless identification and authentication, there are many applications where more than one credential may be necessary to ensure the highest levels of security. Advanced facial recognition readers with multimodal, multifactor credentialing capabilities provide this added security benefit. For example, facial recognition readers that support multiple RFID proximity devices supporting 125 kHz and 13.56 MHz provide varying degrees of protection and greater implementation versatility. Videophone or intercom capabilities Facial recognition readers with multifunctionality can solve several challenges with one solution Facial recognition readers with multifunctionality can solve several challenges with one solution. A perfect example includes devices with SIP (session initiation protocol) videophone capabilities which effectively eliminate the need and associated expense of  installing separate intercom devices while adding another layer of security to one’s facility. The COVID-19 pandemic, and hopefully soon to follow post-pandemic world, have surely accelerated the need for highly accurate, cost-efficient, and reliable facial recognition technologies to help get people back to work safely. Selecting the right facial recognition solution for your specific access control and/or workforce management is now more important than ever before, making a little extra due diligence during the evaluation process a smart decision.