IP Case in Point: Dealing with Complex and Large Video Storage Needs

Adding network video surveillance to Kentucky's Department of Juvenile Justice


Before embarking on the implementation of an entirely new system, the DJJ created benchmarks that would help define the requirements for more effective surveillance. The primary goal was the implementation of a turnkey system that would not have to be managed long-term on an individual facility basis and would create a standard of operations across all facilities. DJJ was also interested in an IP-based system because it provided a level of scalability that would accommodate future growth and/or changes.

Scalable Systems

The DJJ implemented several solutions from the EMC Corporation, including their Surveillance Analysis and Management solution, which provided advanced video content management and analytical capability. The solution also combined hardware and software that accelerated the storage, archiving, fast searching and analysis of surveillance data. The updated system helped the DJJ migrate away from a proprietary platform based on PCs to an open enterprise platform allowing for increased flexibility, scalability and security. The system also enabled the department to install more cameras throughout its locations and centralize the storage of remote video feeds. Ease of scalability for a network video system will be increasingly important to organizations like the DJJ in providing centralized IT oversight, determining new placements for future cameras or a possible shift in the focus of duties at a specific facility.

The EMC Physical Security solution includes common Dell servers, network cameras, EMC high availability software and an EMC Clarion storage array. Network cameras take advantage of Cat 5 cabling and IP technology to capture and transmit the data to a server where it is collected, indexed and then stored on the Clarion array.

Sensible Storage

There are a number of considerations when calculating storage requirements. For example, the user must take into account the number of servers deployed in a system, which is decided by the number of cameras installed. A server can accommodate 15-100 cameras on average depending on three things: the level of resolution being used; frames per seconds; and the recording dynamics. One element to consider includes the number of hours a day each camera will be recording. Some systems can be set to record 24-hours a day while others are utilized only in off hours, or are motion activated. All of these variables can be controlled with within the solution and will factor into the number of servers needed to appropriately store the data.

Storage arrays can be quite small or quite large depending upon the predetermined criteria. The DJJ system can accommodate anywhere from five to 15 terabytes (TB) of storage, while an airport saving footage 24-hours a day at a very high resolution may be running 100 TBs of storage. While high frame rate and high resolution offer clear images and the ability to zoom in for greater detail, it also requires multiple levels of storage. Organizations like the DJJ must accurately assess the level of granularity required in video surveillance situations prior to implementation.

In addition to calculating appropriate storage needs, organizations must evaluate issues of redundancy through remote storage. By saving video in multiple locations including off-site storage, organizations ensure a solid disaster recovery plan. Video from a smaller server within a facility can easily be sent to an off-site facility with larger storage arrays. This will keep data safe and minimize the threat of footage being lost should an on-site server be destroyed through nefarious or accidental means. Servers equipped with Redundant Array of Independent Disks (RAID) can work in clusters or replicate data with other serves even farther way.

The DJJ rolled out its IP surveillance solution into six of the 30 facilities. The average installation included 50-100 Axis network cameras per facility, including dome, fixed and Pan/Tilt/Zoom (PTZ) cameras. Because some facilities were installed with analog cameras prior to the upgrade, the DJJ implemented video servers/encoders (also Axis units), which easily digitize and incorporate information from existing analog cameras.

Benefits Beyond A Networked Solution

Video surveillance is a powerful preventative tool. One of the best ways to measure the benefits of a security device is by the lack of incidents and security breaches. Beyond those benefits, the DJJ's IP-based network video system captured incident accountability and showed youth and staff in positive situations.