SP&T News

Storing video off-site is one way to handle the integrity issue

Any organization with a lot of video and demands to keep that video for a longer period of time is facing the question of how to best store it all and still have efficient access.

March 3, 2010  By Jennifer Brown

Storing security video content off-site is growing in popularity — especially with high-quality images where there is a need for more drive space. More drive space means more cooling and cooling needs more floor space. It all goes hand-in-hand.

Financial institutions, health care institutions and courts are all candidates for off-site video storage. Some court systems have tried to stream video from storage area networks (SAN). The benefit was that footage could be called up when needed and there was little concern about the video files being tampered with, however red tape involved in requesting the video stored in evidence often caused problems for those requesting the footage.

By moving to off-site storage an organization can reduce storage space requirements in the ratio of 10-1, says Stuart Paterson, storage specialist at Cogeco Data Services in Toronto.

“We have some clients who store security camera data with us and I think the main reason they’ve decided to move to off-site is simply because we provide the storage space as a managed service in an environment that is extremely available to them, should they need it,” he says.


Cogeco Data Services offers clients the ability to transfer video privately over a secure network so no one can view the footage during transmission. Their focus is on the availability and management of the data being stored.

“If you’re looking at streaming video into a courthouse environment, for example, the biggest concern is security on top of security — so how do you ensure the integrity of that data? If you do streaming video as long as you can provide a secure and reliable connection then you’re streaming from the source — from a remote location,” says Paterson. “You’re basically opening up a portal to it.”

In some cases, regulatory bodies, especially in the U.S., are starting to clamp down on organizations with regards to how long they keep video and how it is securely stored. That, says Dave Tyson, chief information security officer with a large utility in California, along with improved bandwidth capability, is what’s driving adoption.

“Video capabilities and court acceptance of imagery are growing; it is driving popularity,” says Tyson. “And video in the cloud is a excellent use especially with network bandwidth robustness growing.”

Paterson couldn’t provide specific names of clients using data services, but said customers include schools and financial institutions and they typically opt for off-site storage for two main reasons — integrity of video and growth in video data.

“When you move it off-site, no one from inside the company can get access to or alter video. Having it in an off-site location protects everyone in the primary location who could be involved in tampering with the data,” he says.

Add to that the fact companies are experiencing more than 30 per cent increase in data production right now and from a security video perspective that number is closer to a 60 to 70 per cent increase in data produced from camera sources per year. That has created a demand for staff to handle it and hardware and software to manage it as well.

“What’s happening is a lot of companies had security cameras in with tapes in but when it comes to retrieving information from a specific time they haven’t always been so successful at doing it, but now regulatory bodies are thumping down on them saying it’s time to really put something behind this and just a camera on a wall is useless for evidence,” says Paterson.

Where your data is stored geographically is another issue to consider when looking at off-site video storage. Many organizations cannot store content on servers located in the U.S., since the privacy laws there do not guarantee absolute confidentiality. 
In some cases this is deemed an unacceptable risk. In other cases, it places the organization at risk since they cannot provide the levels of confidentiality required under Canadian laws.

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