The Associated Press published an article on September 10, which reported that Police departments in at least two states that outfitted their officers with body cameras have now shelved them, blaming new laws requiring videos to be stored longer, which they say would significantly increase the cost. While a third of the U.S. police departments have embraced body cameras to record their officer’s interaction with the public for safety and litigation purposes, new laws which increase the retention period for video storage have increased the cost of storing video records to the point that the costs are unsustainable if they are stored with the traditional recorder server approach. The article cited a police department in Clarksville who had been storing and maintaining video for 30 days at a cost of $5,000 to $10,000 a year was now faced with a cost of storing video for 190 days at $50,000 to $100,000 a year. The department had to terminate the program since the additional retention period would have required them to buy additional servers, cameras, software, and training for people to use them. They were willing to assume the risk of not having body camera video to protect themselves from costly litigation which could run into the millions of dollars. Storing additional video records should not involve such high costs, if you have a scalable solution that uses virtualization and SAN to separate the cost of servers from the cost of storage.
Hitachi Data Systems has a video management system that can help reduce these storage costs while enabling police to integrate body cams with other video input. Not only police but most businesses who are embracing digital transformation have an increasing need for “big video data” that requires enterprise class storage, that is reliable, scalable, easy to use and fast enough to support real time monitoring and analysis. Video data is not only important for physical security, workplace safety, and evidence in litigations, it is increasingly being used by businesses for analyzing customer behavior, traffic congestion, industrial and operational efficiencies, reduction of shrinkage, etc. In addition to the increasing public safety and business uses of video cameras, the amount of data being generated is exploding with the use of the higher resolutions HD cameras, panoramic and 4K cameras, mobile input from bodycams and drones with geo spatial meta data. The need to retain data longer for compliance, litigation, or business analytics, means that storage is becoming the major bottleneck for video management systems. Current Video management systems are not able to meet the increasing demands for video data.
The picture above is a typical video management system where the video management software runs in one server while a number of recording servers with Direct Attached Disks record and archive video data from different sets of cameras. This configuration is easy to install and operate, which is important for video monitoring personnel who usually have no IT experience. However, this configuration does not scale. Increasing demand for storage requires the addition of additional recorder servers and upgrades and repairs are disruptive. If a recording server fails, the video associated with it is lost. Having a number of management and recorder servers also take up a lot of room, power, and cooling in the data center.
Hitachi is addressing these problems with the announcement of three new video management platform configurations with industry leading video management software from strategic partners, Milestone and OnSSI. The new VMP configurations offer a unified, virtualized compute and storage configuration that is optimized to support enterprise video requirements in a fully integrated and turnkey appliance. VMP uses VMware running on rack servers to virtualize the management and recorder servers and separates compute from storage using SAN attached VSP storage. VMP uses two tiers of storage to handle the need for high IOPS while offloading the video to lower costs disks for archiving. In addition to the redundant servers, there are redundant SAN switches along with VMware vSphere products which support high availability and fault tolerance solutions for the video management system. The VSP storage supports raid 6 and spare disks to offer even higher data protection. The VMP can scale from hundreds to thousands of cameras. If you know the number of cameras, resolution of the cameras, frame rate, and retention period, you can plug these numbers into an easy to use configurator, which generates a configuration which you can set and forget.
For more information on Hitachi’s end to end Video Management systems see the following Marketwired announcement