The Building Blocks
- By Brandon Reich
- January 01, 2017
Educational institutions face an increasing risk environment. Recent high-profile incidents emphasize these risks and magnify the vulnerabilities that educational facilities face. This has led to an increase in public demand for improved security solutions across campuses. K-12 schools, early-learning institutions and higher education alike strive to meet the safety expectation of all stakeholders.
However, the primary mission of these organizations is to deliver
quality education to students, and they face the challenge of balancing
between a highly secure facility and one that supports open interaction
and advancements in technology, particularly in video surveillance.
This can help solve security problems but can also add challenges.
Institutions across the country are adopting video surveillance the
fastest rate in history. According to recent research, nine out of every 10
schools have video systems in place, and the vast majority continues to
grow and expand existing deployments. Administrators are starting to
take cues from the law enforcement community, exploring new applications
for body cameras, opportunities for public-private partnerships
and sharing video with first responders—fire department, local police
and public safety departments. Video surveillance and these newer initiatives
improve overall situational awareness that helps stakeholders
respond to incidents more effectively, sometimes as they are occurring,
and even preventing incidents from happening altogether.
There is a huge demand for video surveillance, in particular, including
new advancements in technology such as 360-degree cameras and
video analytics. Schools are adopting updated video use cases (i.e.
using video to detect unauthorized visitors or classroom operations)
and these trends, along with growing security concerns, are propelling
longer retention requirements for stored video. At the same time, prices
for surveillance technologies have decreased.
All of these drivers point to the explosion of data generated by surveillance
cameras and other security software on a daily basis. IP video
surveillance will generate more than 1500 petabytes of new data every
single day in 2017, according to market research from IHS. That is
three times the amount of data generated in 2014. In essence, video
surveillance data capture doubles roughly every 18 months.
Not only are schools collecting massive amounts of information, but
the data obtained is more important than ever before. Modern organizations
can no longer tolerate video loss, system downtime or the inability to access live or recorded video. Data loss can lead to major
liabilities, and therefore more significance is placed on server and storage
Because of the increase in data generation and the growing importance
of video and integrated security solutions, technology has shifted
from closed, proprietary systems to more a mission-critical application
that is often hosted inside of a data center and managed by an IT
department. This evolution is important to note because IT departments
will often turn to traditional technologies for video and data
storage infrastructure. But traditional infrastructure, such as standard
servers or SAN storage, is not well suited for video surveillance environments
and can lead to underperformance.
In today’s video surveillance environments, image quality is imperative,
and poor system performance can drastically impact the quality
of the video being stored—in a negative way. Traditional IT systems
either don’t work well with intensive surveillance workloads or they
can be prohibitively expensive.
To solve some of these new challenges, new technologies and infrastructure
platforms are being introduced to the market. Flash technology—
while still cost prohibitive for primary video storage—can be
used strategically to improve video capture performance and prevent
image quality degradation.
Hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) is an another desirable
option because it eliminates complexity and cost, and brings enterprise-
class technology and benefits at a more affordable price point.
At a very basic level, HCI combines highly sophisticated, expensive
data storage and server hardware together through software into a
simple appliance-based solution. HCI leverages software-defined
storage and server virtualization, deployed on industry standard, offthe-
shelf server hardware.
The concept of HCI is causing significant disruption in the traditional
IT infrastructure industry. The legacy storage market that is
based on expensive proprietary hardware is transforming into one that
is driven by software innovation on commodity hardware. The companies
leading this transformation are not necessarily the incumbent
providers commonly seen in the data center world. This is considered
a significant change in not only the technology but also how these
solutions are deployed.
HCI might be a buzzword in the IT space, but the concept is wellsuited
to a wide variety of applications. HCI solutions can be purposebuilt
to meet the unique needs of video surveillance, offering far more
functionality to schools than traditional IT infrastructure. As more
educational facilities look to adopt advanced technologies, such as
panoramic cameras, more traditional IT storage solutions will be challenged
by the write-intensive nature of surveillance.
Performance is the single most important aspect of delivering highquality
video and schools need to confirm that all aspects of a video
monitoring system can meet performance expectations 24/7. The ability
to store large amounts of video without dropping frames, which
leads to image quality degradation, is of paramount importance. Resiliency
is critical as it eliminates what schools can no longer tolerate
system downtime and data loss. Live and recorded video is available
and accessible even when hardware fails. School systems also require
scalability, allowing facilities to start small and grow system as needs
and budgets change.
Educational campuses are designed to help students expand upon
their intellectual capabilities to drive tomorrow’s research and leadership
efforts, but these open environments are increasingly becoming
targets of evolving physical threats. New technologies can help
schools be more efficient and secure, but they must be delivered in a
cost-effective manner. There is a growing focus on increasing surveillance
deployments to provide safe and secure places to grow and
learn, and new technologies can offer these institutions
system resiliency and data protection for
their video needs, which are paramount to providing
security and peace-of-mind to all parties
This article originally appeared in the January 2017 issue of Campus Security & Life Safety.