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Huawei Storage Makes Cities Safer

Urban residents want to feel absolutely safe in their communities. To make their cities more appealing and safer, local governments are implementing Safe City initiatives for heightened security assurance. As part of these roll-outs, cutting-edge video surveillance technology is being applied to routine police work and criminal investigations, demonstrating a new model in how the network and technology help law enforcement work smarter. Special emphasis is being placed on the digital video surveillance platforms going into the Safe City programs to give local police forces an upper hand in their arsenal to combat crime. As the technologies evolve and as integration methods and requirements become clearer, project focus has transited from merely wanting to provide a basic level of safety to one in which intelligent applications combine to strengthen deterrence and augment enforcement. Especially with the emergence of new technologies like 4K ultra-high definition (UHD), cloud computing, and Big Data in recent years, and with the government's quest for more extensive security approaches, the future of Safe City is unfolding right in front of us.

Security and stability are top priority

Security and reliability are prominent factors in assessing any system, and they are especially critical to any Safe City agenda as safeguarding people's lives is of paramount importance. These projects incorporate tens of thousands of surveillance cameras and generate several petabytes of information. In one example, the Guangdong Province "Safe City Corridor" project has deployed a surveillance network comprising over one million cameras over the first five years. That number is expected to increase significantly over the coming years, making it the largest such type deployment among any municipal public security entity.

Considering the importance and sheer scope of Safe City, the following security and reliability requirements must be achieved for the project to be successful:

  • Secure access platform must be built between internal and external networks
  • Monitoring network must adopt redundancy design
  • Core databases must employ an active-active hot-backup design
  • Central management units of large systems require hardware load balancing approaches to ensure optimum operation
  • Components responsible for transmitting streaming media must employ N+1 or even N+M backup

The popularity of network-based and HD video surveillance, and the massive amounts of data that come along with these trends, place even higher requirements on the core of these surveillance systems: the storage platform. Therefore, the security, stability, and reliability of that platform are key to supporting criminal investigations and achieving higher levels of public safety.

Ability to share video surveillance resources is integral to collaboration

Recent years have witnessed a huge surge in video surveillance requirements, and collaboration between agencies has become essential to achieving Safe City objectives. Surveillance on local networks cannot cope with the emerging needs, which is why municipalities, regions, and even nations are making the move over to network-based surveillance systems. In the Safe City projects that are being carried out in many locales, a vast number of video surveillance systems need to be deployed; however, if the systems use conventional digital video recorders (DVRs) and network video recorders (NVRs) for data storage, the stored video resources cannot be shared across systems. Therefore, a central storage model such as a storage area network (SAN) or cloud storage is required to eliminate information silos.

The call for innovative video technologies

As project success is demonstrated in more and more Safe City rollouts and as more and more public security departments are using video surveillance in criminal investigations, conventional recording and storage methods are proving ineffective, especially considering the many new application requirements being raised. Based on visual analysis technologies, these requirements cover the need for analyzing, diagnosing, searching, tracking, and splicing videos in an intelligent manner. Under this trend, the traditional storage systems offering a 1:1 read/write ratio become a bottleneck, and video analysis capabilities must be further developed to deliver higher concurrent video read/write capabilities.

In summary, the stability in storing and ability to efficiently analyze video surveillance data will be the major issues that face Safe City builds in the next few years. Following its philosophy of "Gathering the Power of Video, Unlocking the Wisdom of Images", Huawei provides a future-proof video surveillance storage solution that speaks to these issues.

New data storage initiative in Safe City

In the public security organization chart, local police stations are the most fundamental unit while public security bureaus perform supervisory roles. In this sense, local police stations are directly in charge of the data captured by surveillance cameras while public security bureaus guide and manage the operation of the stations. Therefore, two levels of video surveillance systems need to be built for a Safe City project: the first level is constructed for the local police stations and the second level for the public security bureaus.

Level-1 storage: central data storage for local police stations

Build-outs of the video surveillance systems in the past usually adopted approaches like VCR and DVR recording, but these approaches had limited transmission distances and expensive cabling, so they could only be used for storing data locally. In the past, surveillance data was scattered in different places and only the most critical data could be saved in local police stations.

Since 1997, as IP network technologies become mature, digital and network-based video surveillance initiatives have come into being, NVR and IP SAN storage solutions dominate the market, and the method of surveillance data transmission has changed from simulated signals to IP network-based digital signals. With these improvements, the construction of video surveillance systems is no longer restricted by transmission distances, and the once scattered data can now be saved to a centralized repository. In addition, the surveillance data allows for remote access by public security bureaus, so the data is well managed and fully utilized. The performance bottleneck of this storage mode lies in the IP bandwidth, for the network capabilities in most cities are insufficient for large-scale data transmission. This level of capability in central data storage for local police stations is what we refer to as level-1 storage.

The level-1 storage devices used in the initial stage were DVRs and NVRs. These devices feature ease of deployment and low cost, but their capacities are limited, reliability is poor, and data integrity is not assured. With the popularity of network-based and HD video surveillance, Safe City projects have been experiencing exponential growth in the amount of video surveillance data, and any leakage of the data may cause social instability and even political unrest. To eliminate these risks, stringent capacity and reliability requirements are imposed on level-1 storage devices, and professional storage manufacturers are called on to provide viable solutions to address the needs for secure data storage.

At present, level-1 storage devices deliver only basic functions, but it is foreseeable that, with the advances in networking, video sharing, and intelligent video analysis, these devices will incorporate many value-added applications (such as data computing capabilities) as level-1 storage develops towards the convergence of storage and computing. Leveraging its vast expertise in technology and penetrating analysis into video surveillance, Huawei offers the first solution to converge data storage and computing in this area with its release of the powerful IP SAN-based video surveillance storage solution.

Level-2 storage: central data storage for public security bureaus

The year 2005 was a milestone for IP technologies. Higher bandwidth was the most notable advantage, and improved transmission and storage capabilities meant that public security bureaus could now centrally store video surveillance data with the new network builds or upgrades. This leap made level-2 storage possible. The storage devices selected for this model are mainly manufactured by professional storage vendors and capable of providing massive storage capacities and robust reliability assurance, with typical devices including IP SAN devices and cloud storage systems. The level-2 model delivers the following advantages:

  • Centralized data storage facilitates management and utilization while reducing costs associated with video and image ingesting.
  • Storage systems able to handle enterprise-level applications, and the equipment room environment can be better controlled to protect data.
  • Massive amounts of video can be saved, which are valuable for high-tech public security applications like video compression, face recognition and search, vehicle search, and people/vehicle tracking, improving the efficiency in criminal investigations and raising the standards in urban management.
  • Video data can be shared across public security departments, and all the data can be centrally managed and scheduled.

Huawei has a solid track record in developing both conventional IP SAN storage and cutting-edge cloud storage, so it is capable of providing flexible and reliable solutions to address level-2 video surveillance needs.

Future trends in video surveillance storage for Safe City

Network capabilities in many areas remain under-developed, and considerable distance separates police stations in many rural regions. Level-2 storage in surveillance data is not feasible at present for some locales, making level-1 storage the only viable option. In contrast, level-2 video surveillance systems have been built to centrally store data for public security bureaus in developed cities with good network quality and police stations that are located close to each other. These systems are also playing a significant role in urban management. In the future, as intelligent video analysis, Big Data, and cloud storage technologies become more mature, more level-2 storage systems will be constructed to work alongside the level-1 systems, with a goal of providing the means to better guard every corner of our cities.

Video analysis approach in Safe City

If the mushrooming amounts of video data can be centrally managed, intelligent analysis can then be applied to such data. At present, video analysis technologies fall into two main categories: behavior analysis and feature analysis. Behavior analysis is based on background modeling that can separate moving objects from the static background and filter out irrelevant objects. This method can generate alarms if an usual trajectory or anomaly in behavior or operation is discovered based on preset rules. Feature analysis matches the captured images with those in the feature database of the target object to provide accurate results and determine if further analysis or alarming is required.

Intelligent analysis with use of applications (automated analysis) will also become a trend in the future. Automated analysis will eventually replace manual analysis thanks to such technologies as intelligent track analysis, intelligent object retrieval, face recognition, movement detection, video abstracting, visual display and analysis, as well as graphic rendering and layout analysis. These technologies drastically reduce the time required for video scanning and retrieval as well as the costs associated with criminal investigations, infusing the intelligence capabilities of technology into crime fighting and making police work much more efficient.

Huawei's video surveillance storage systems deliver a read/write ratio of up to 4:1, which efficiently eliminates the performance bottlenecks caused by concurrent access to multiple video streams. Huawei's solutions can further integrate with cutting-edge video analysis systems to form an elastic, efficient, and reliable video analysis solution.

Conclusion

Being a technology trailblazer in the storage arena, Huawei provides a video surveillance solution that speaks to all the associated requirements in Safe City, helping law enforcement and urban management achieve higher levels of efficiency and accelerated response with the infusion of modern technologies.

Huawei, with its specialized storage capabilities, makes cities safer.