The experience of being stuck in traffic, late for an appointment, imagining alternative routes you might have taken if you’d only known what was ahead, is universal. As surveillance video finds new applications beyond traditional security purposes, improving transportation is an area a lot of people can get behind. When the City of Seattle recently faced a major highway closure, they used video surveillance to help the public find alternate routes, avoiding chaos and a significant public backlash against the project.

There is also a growing list of benefits to be gained from correlating video data with input from “smart” devices. Embedded sensor technology is enabling cities to become smarter, and data from that sensor input can be integrated with video data and analyzed to help make communities more attractive. Today, vehicle and pedestrian traffic can be captured and integrated with sensor input from buses, trains, and subway stations to minimize congestion. Similarly, parking facilities can be monitored and the video combined with input from smart meters to cut down on bottlenecks and to improve consumer satisfaction.

Transportation organizations grapple with some unique surveillance challenges. They may have a high density of cameras to cover a large geographic area; they often require an integrated control center for monitoring; they need to ensure coverage in high traffic routes; and they typically have capabilities for incident case management. Transportation hubs need a high-performance data management solution that’s able to handle full-res video streams integrated with real-time analytics going at 100%.

Realizing the full potential of video surveillance for transportation applications requires a fresh approach to storage design and infrastructure projects. For effective analytics, data must be drawn from many different sources and kept for longer periods because trends and patterns emerge by combining disparate data sets and analyzing them over time. The farther data goes back, the better the quality of the analytics, yielding more accurate conclusions and better decisions.

A typical approach to storage design, where each department is viewed as a stand-alone entity, can result in islands of storage. These islands may be fine for storing video data but are not easily integrated with other systems, inhibiting the potential of the data to be applied for other uses. The traditional project-based approach to video surveillance storage must give way to a broader, more strategic view.