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Video-as-a-Service Creates Unprecedented Visibility

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Video-as-a-Service Creates Unprecedented Visibility

By Zhuang Wei, Deputy Director, Science & Technology Department, Suzhou Public Security Bureau

The charm of digital transformation lies in its ability to accelerate an era through technology innovation to create infinite opportunities. Video image technology, when combined with emerging cloud computing, Big Data, and Artificial Intelligence creates a new paradigm that is disrupting the practical operations of the public safety sector. A rich diversity of video applications signifies the advent of an open and thriving video cloud ecosystem. Video-as-a-Service (VaaS) has become possible, marking a new beginning for public safety departments, other government agencies, and every citizen alike.

A ‘Finding Families’ Story

In 2017, Suzhou Public Security Bureau helped the local civil affairs bureau deal with a tricky situation. The civil affairs bureau was tasked to help many people with hearing or speech impairment or mental illness. These people could not clearly express their identities and, therefore, had to stay for extended periods in the homeless aid station or hospital. As the number of such cases continuously increased, the civil affairs bureau faced more pressure than it could handle. They had no choice except to turn to Suzhou Public Security Bureau for help. Upon receiving this request, we decided to invoke the face-matching system to help these homeless people find their families. Specifically, we entered the photos of the homeless into the face-matching system for reverse image search and face comparison. Then the most similar identity information was quickly presented and prioritized by similarity, significantly improving the efficiency and accuracy of identity comparison. This approach paid off. After comparing more than 800 photos within a short period of time, we succeeded in helping more than 50 homeless people find their families. Seeing the happy reunions between the homeless and their families, we realized the significant role of the innovative usage of video technology in solving real-life problems.

In fact, the above-mentioned case is only one of many video applications that deliver better services. Suzhou is the earliest beneficiary to receive large-scale benefits of static facial imaging applications in China. Statistics show that from June 2015 to November 2017, Suzhou Public Security Bureau has solved 2,500 cases with the help of static facial imaging applications. These achievements have enhanced our confidence in sharing video resources among all other government agencies and have also driven us to explore an increasing number of more refined scenario-specific applications. We can package videos, photos, and even facial images and license plates, into services and provide them to all relevant government agencies for use in various situations. Doing so will help promote the stability, prosperity, and development of the entire society.

Building a Video Cloud Platform

Suzhou Public Security Bureau is an early adopter of a video networking platform and has already taken a leading position in intelligent applications. We took the lead in introducing vehicle model recognition and facial recognition technologies. Despite this, we have always been thinking about how to go further and embrace more innovative video applications. A turning point occurred in 2015 when China released a national-level file about video construction. Guided by this file, we clarified our own direction, integrating videos from the entire society into the public safety system to achieve comprehensive sharing and in-depth development of applications, thereby better safeguarding public safety and improving government services.

However, this direction is full of challenges, including the following:

• Videos are rich in types, come from diverse sources, and involve complex standards. Video sharing imposes high requirements on bandwidth and storage.

• Today, smart video applications are growing in popularity and developing rapidly. The careful selection of the right video applications is mandatory.

• Video sharing undoubtedly incurs security concerns. In the cloud era, upper-layer applications are mushrooming, while the underlying security threats, such as illegal access, video theft, private network intrusion, and video leakage, are becoming ubiquitous.

• How to compare video data with Big Data in the entire policing system to mine more value must be considered.

• Existing systems are isolated and have become silos and bottlenecks for improving management efficiency.

Facing these and many other new challenges, we cannot hesitate. We understand that the “new normal,” a buzzword in China, tells us that the only thing constant is change. Over the past decade, we have been constantly solving old problems and responding to new ones; therefore, we needed a long-term, powerful, and open partner to help us lay a solid foundation that not only solved our current problems but also positioned us for long-term evolution. Huawei’s video cloud solution is mature. The solution design concepts deeply impressed us, and we finally selected Huawei as our partner.

Huawei’s video cloud platform is open, sharing, efficient, and intelligent, enabling a wider range of services. By decoupling software from hardware and applications from data, the video cloud platform contributes to investment protection and sustainable evolution of the public safety sector. Since 2004, Suzhou Public Security Bureau has invested heavily in ICT system construction and made impressive achievements. We wanted these achievements to be workable on the new platform in 2017; therefore, our entire video platform was not built from the ground up or rebuilt by removing all past installations; instead, it needed to be fully integrated and compatible with the existing foundation and able to usher in further improvements based on previous deployments. We clearly positioned the new platform to bridge the past, present, and future, paving the way for a broader development space for all of Suzhou.

From Video Data to a Suzhou-wide Visual Platform with Unprecedented Intelligence and Visibility

With a clear development direction and the right vendor partner, we had a goal for our video cloud project: Adopt a data-centric approach and build the public safety video sharing platform into one with unprecedented intelligence and visibility. Due to limited experience to draw on in China, or even worldwide, this project would be filled with imaginative exploration for both Suzhou Public Security Bureau and Huawei.

Everything starts from the top-level architecture and involves two actions: Selecting the ideal cloud platform technical solution and conducting the top-level design of the overall city-county cloud architecture. Doing so aims to achieve vertical interoperability, horizontal interconnection, physical distribution, and logical unification.

The construction of a city-level platform provides referential technical specifications for building relevant county-level platforms. This approach proved to be highly successful during the entire public safety video sharing platform construction, which adopts Huawei’s ‘One Network, One Cloud, One Pool, and One Platform’ architecture. It consists of four parts from bottom to top: Awareness, transmission, management, and application.

‘One Network’ refers to the consolidation of multiple networks (such as front-end access, private video, SDN-based large-scale data center, and government wireless private video networks) into a large network to achieve smooth video transmission and interconnection.

‘One Cloud’ refers to management, which is the most critical part. Huawei has proposed a good concept for the cloud: Logically, a single data center but using multiple equipment rooms. Multiple Virtual Data Centers (vDCs) can be managed in a unified manner. Of course, ‘One Cloud’ is the ideal goal of cloud construction, but, in actual practice, changes and compromises would be made based on actual situations.

‘One Pool’ refers to a video data resource pool that achieves data resource convergence, multi-source data aggregation, and a high level of data sharing under authorization. Work related to ‘One Pool’ is the simplest part in this project, because relevant national and international standards and technical specifications are mature. Additionally, video data is processed intelligently and structurally and then stored on the proper media to prepare for data comparison with other public safety Big Data systems.

‘One Platform’ is to adopt unified video management, video analysis, and Big Data platforms, encapsulate the capabilities of these platforms, and provide unified interfaces and services for different service applications or other government agencies.

Security is another priority. We performed a large number of security hardening operations to ensure almost end-to-end security protection, including front-end access and extranet border protection, unified identity authentication, and sensitive data protection. The central equipment room is the most important part. In particular, a large amount of video data is processed intelligently. In the future, such data will be accumulated to a certain scale to comprehensively reflect the entire social activity and the catering, accommodation, transportation, and consumption of each individual. Therefore, due to a high degree of sensitivity, the security grade of information systems in the central equipment room has exceeded Grade III, as defined in China’s information security standards.

Reaping Preliminary Benefits and Embracing the Challenges of Big Video and Big Data

To date, Suzhou Public Security Bureau has built a three-dimensional, real-world map system by leveraging Huawei’s cloud computing capabilities. Based on a geographic information platform, the system integrates video surveillance and space information into a real-world map. To avoid blind spots, drone assistance is also included. All these features enable the entire map to provide stereoscopic, 360-degree, blind-spot-free video views for optimal outcomes. The large-scale video convergence — made possible by the powerful cloud computing capabilities of the background platforms — greatly improves the effectiveness of video relay, tracing, and surveillance functions in actual practice.

With the ever-increasing maturity and commercial use of facial imaging technologies, in 2017, Suzhou Public Security Bureau built a large-scale dynamic facial imaging checkpoint network based on the Huawei cloud. The goal is to set up 10,000 dynamic facial imaging checkpoints throughout Suzhou. Roughly 12,000 people pass through each checkpoint each day; therefore, a super powerful platform is required to handle huge amounts of facial imaging data from all these checkpoints every day. Additionally, about 2,000 vehicle checkpoints have already been networked in Suzhou. About 25 million photos are generated each day. In three years, this figure will increase to 60 million each day. Processing such a huge number of photos also calls for a powerful platform. These are tough challenges for both Suzhou Public Security and Huawei; however, we are confident and look forward to future benefits over the next three years.

Keeping the Original Aspirations in Mind and Moving Forward Decisively

A Chinese saying goes, “Above there is Heaven, below there are Suzhou and Hangzhou.” Suzhou is a famous city in South China, well known for its unrivaled cultural heritage. Its elegance is widely recognized around the globe. From ancient times until now, Suzhou has undoubtedly carried numerous Chinese people’s aspirations for a better life, and such aspirations should be cherished. Remaining true to our original aspirations requires the dedication of each public safety person in Suzhou. This is more than an aspiration, however — it is also an unshakable mission.

The door of a new era has been opened. The video-assisted operations in China’s public safety sector have been developing quickly. As a result, China has already changed from a follower to a leader in this regard. Even further, China has been tapping the ‘Blue Ocean’ and other untapped video sectors filled with infinite opportunities. Looking ahead, only by continuous exploration, effort, and innovation can we meet the expectations of our times. We will continue to work with leading partners to bring the public safety benefits to every aspect of people’s lives.

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