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EMC creates surveillance SAN

EMC's Surveillance Analysis and Management Solution (SAMS) allows youth corrections facilities to search video data on a state-wide network.

Kentucky's Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) has deployed EMC Corp's Surveillance Analysis and Management Solution...

(SAMS) to create a centralized, searchable video archive to replace its outdated tape system.

The department's legacy systems, used only in their highest-security facilities, are tape-driven, with analog cameras and coaxial cable connections. The system is not only incomplete, but video on tapes is only searchable by the human eye, by rewinding, fast-forwarding, and watching the footage on a VCR.

"In our present system, in order to recall a specific event, a search is originated by reviewing a specific tape during the required timeline," according to DJJ's Deputy Commissioner Michael Dossett. "There's not a whole lot you can do [to organize data] besides labeling (VHS) tapes."

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Another problem with the old systems is that they are located in just eight of Kentucky's 30 youth detention facilities. Dossett wanted a system of cameras in every facility, with digital cameras that would stream video and store it as searchable data on a central disk system rather than images on tape.

In a planning process that began in Sept. 2004, Dossett's department drew up a "wish list" of the features they wanted in the new system, including software that would allow the data to be searched by date, time, or incident, and storage that could network between the cameras, extract their data, and archive dozens of terabytes in a central location. The product had to be nimble enough to bring together data from different devices customized for different facilities – cameras with different frame-per-second rates, different hours of operation, and different operating environments.

In addition, "we wanted whoever gave us the product to be responsible for the entire package – the service, the installation, the training. I can't overemphasize it. If I have an issue with a camera at a facility, I want just one number to call." Dossett remained mum about which companies, or even how many companies, he took bids from.

According to Dick O'Leary, senior director for EMC global solutions and program director for SAMS the challenge in Kentucky's case was getting data from multiple campuses around state through limited bandwidth into a centralized storage environment.

Dossett and O'Leary pegged the current storage load at about 10 to 13 TB. EMC has installed Clariion CX 300 and 500 arrays with a capacity of several petabytes (PB).

The overall system is designed for active archiving of the data coming from cameras – image frames are grabbed by Dell 1850 servers running EMC's SAN Server software and fed into on-site Clariion arrays. These in turn migrate the data to a central Clariion.

To address bandwidth limitations, SAMS uses OnCourse software to manage the transfer of data from local sites to the central site. OnCourse improves delivery and integrity of data over a clogged IP pipe by queuing packets during a transmission spike, and re-engaging the wire when the spike subsides.

The cameras EMC is installing are IP surveillance cameras by a Swedish manufacturer, Axis. Dossette estimated that 1400 to 1500 cameras would be installed. Third-party software, which O'Leary declined to name, then functions with the camera according to settings determined by the user to detect objects in the environment. A variety of "intelligent analytics" are then used to organize the video data.

Dossette estimated that the system would be completely operational within two years. After about a year, he said the department would be looking at installing a content addressed storage system (CAS) using EMC's Centera arrays for long-term archiving of the video data.

The use of video surveillance systems has grown dramatically over the last few years, and this transition has led to the demand for improved storage of this data. Expect more of this to come.

As this story went to press, rumors of problems with EMC's SAMS solution were reported on an Australian news site, Image and Data Manager Online ( EMC confirmed that it resells VideoNext technology as a part of the SAMS offering and denied that there any problems with the product. The Kentucky's DJJ did not use the VideoNext technology as part of its solution.


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