Guest Post: Why the Need for Interoperable Data is Driving the Surveillance Landscape

For years, surveillance has largely been deployed either as a closed system or on an appliance. The reasons are understandable. Most customers, companies and partners come from the CCTV days where every system was closed, and that is just how it worked.

Then IP video came along and turned the surveillance market upside down, bringing in new technologies, new vendors, new partners and new challenges. The surveillance industry has now made the change to where IP is the standard rather than the exception. But the fact is, even though the technology is based on IP, the deployment still often looks like a closed system.

The cables are different, muxes have been replaced with switches, and 150GB DVRs have been replaced with 50TB NVRs, but the way surveillance systems are deployed still results in closed systems. Data is locked inside the DVR or NVR. Video management applications are bound by the appliance with which they are packed. And customers are often forced to upgrade hardware and software together. At the end of the day, almost all of the value that surveillance can bring to a company, an institution or a government is still locked inside a black box.

There is potential, though to unlock the value of surveillance data and make it truly interoperable. Once that happens, it can be shared across applications, moved across on-premise and off-premise boundaries, and ultimately bring much more value to end users.

There are several reasons why such data should be interoperable within the surveillance industry. First and foremost, portability is the best way to ensure support for data standards that will be critical for interoperability and data sharing between emerging security applications. Sharing data between locations and applications will not be possible if there is no agreement across the industry about how that data will be formatted and what exactly will be included.

We have already seen the benefit of a consistent, constructive approach to this challenge in current PSIM systems that assemble relevant data from a variety of separate and distinct monitoring applications in order to assemble them into a single comprehensive view of a situation. Extending this concept further will enable further cross-referencing and create additional benefits when applied wisely.

Other reasons include an increase in the effectiveness of security operations, including detection of targets of interest, a decrease in the cost of developing new security applications, and potential improvements in the storage and retrieval processes for key security data. All of these examples, and many more, work to the benefit of security managers, security companies, and the general business population.

There is no better example of the need for data to be interoperable than the public safety market. Today’s public operators, offices and users require access to many types of data above and beyond surveillance data. There has been a proliferation of body-worn cameras across the country and around the world, and data from these devices can add up fast, even in medium-size police departments. Storage requirements can average as much as 1TB per camera per year, so even with only 500 cameras, a police department would need 500TB of storage annually just for this application alone.

Body-worn cameras are now grabbing a lot of attention in the news, pressing many police agencies to make knee-jerk decisions to quickly deploy a solution. And while wearable cameras are an important part of the evidence story, they are not the only piece of the security equation. Police agencies also need to store and manage crime scene footage and other digital evidence from surveillance cameras, interview rooms, mobile devices, unmanned aerial vehicles, and many other evidence inputs. Add in storage for license plate readers, GIS mapping, and in-car cameras, and the need for enterprise storage can be significant. And this does not take into account the addition of data coming from the explosion of the Internet of Things.

The need for data is not slowing down. Keeping this data locked into individual applications and appliances only slows innovation. It is no longer acceptable to throw an appliance on the rack and call it a day.

Ken Mills is a General Manager for Dell EMC’s Surveillance and Security practice area. Dell EMC is a Pelco integration partner. To learn more about the program, visit our Partner First page.

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