Western Digital Survey Reveals Top Use Cases for Surveillance and Smart Video

The new research finds HDDs still lead the market, and that integrators see AI and analytics playing an ever-increasing role in deployments, and onboard camera storage is important for new edge use cases.

A new study, commissioned by Western Digital and conducted by Security Sales & Integration from April to May 2020 and targeting 150+ respondents, has shed light on the top uses cases for video that are resonating with security integrators’ customers and some of their unique deployments.

Among the project’s objectives was determining how AI and software, when paired up with Western Digital’s storage technologies, might add new levels of versatility for pulling data analytics.

SSI Editor-in-Chief Scott Goldfine further discusses the survey’s findings with Stefaan Vervaet, Western Digital Senior Director of Marketing of Smart Video.

What did the survey reveal about smart video and surveillance? Tell us the highlights.

Stefaan Vervaet: This survey reached 157 qualified integrators in the surveillance space, or what we call the Smart Video market here at Western Digital. It validated the importance of storage to support these new video use cases that are AI enabled and are heavy “write” and low “read” workloads.

The key survey findings were:

  • In high level trends: 76% of integrators polled believe that video analytics and artificial intelligence are playing an ever-increasing role. 73% of respondents see remote management/configuration of video storage in surveillance as essential, and 70% say it is important for security cameras to feature significant onboard storage.
  • When it comes to the types of storage used for smart video recording, hard drives [HDDs] are still used in 50% of deployments and users cited endurance/reliability, performance, and capacity as their main desires in choosing HDDs. Cost was not a leading factor for those surveyed.
  • While the four areas with the most growth in smart video deployments in 2019 were office/commercial buildings, manufacturing, schools/universities and retail, there will be a switch in three to five years, with integrators seeing schools/universities taking the lead spot, followed by office/commercial buildings, as well as manufacturing and retail.
  • We also wanted to note that the survey found the smart city applications involving city parking, and mass public transportation will climb. More than 25% of respondents identified these as some of the fastest growing vertical markets during the next 3-5 years.

Are you surprised in the strong data that HDDs are still the top storage technology used by integrators?

Vervaet: We are not surprised at all that integrators say that 50% of their deployments include hard drives. With the market’s continued growth and the high data content of video, hard disk drives still represent the most cost-effective storage technology, as measured by cost per terabyte. The hard drive market is long established in this space and it’s great to see that reconfirmed, even as AI adoption increases. Our WD Purple HDD is a leading technology in this market. What we also saw in the survey was continued use of flash storage ― including solid-state drives and specifically, microSD cards at the edge in cameras [31% combined]. The trend at the edge shows that the primary use case for onboard storage is still backup to provide data redundancy, for example in case of a network failure. The second use case is to use the microSD as primary storage, for example in a Video-as-a-Service workload where there may not be a local NVR.

Are you seeing any new edge architectures that stand out where HDD and Flash are combined in a single platform?

Vervaet: Actually, yes in the mobile DVR industry we are seeing microSD cards now also used as a backup for the data stored on the HDD drives, this to deliver a cost-effective, capacity-dense and high-redundant solution. So, in this scenario, customers are combining a low capacity microSD with a high-capacity 3.5-inch HDD to get the best of both worlds.

A lot of the write-in answers seem to indicate there’s a need for smart video in smart city applications, healthcare, high-end residential and select markets such farming with drones assisting. Is that what you are seeing too?

Vervaet: Our customers, who are the resellers and integrators, are on the front lines with these deployments — supplying the storage, or helping design the systems. They tell us, and this survey backs that up — that the use cases are shifting to use of cameras with higher resolutions that can hold more data and video, and that can share and analyze that data right on the camera in some cases. These use cases are new but growing fast.

Do you agree that AI will be a leading factor in future use cases, as agreed to and ranked highly by 76% of the respondents?

Vervaet: Yes, we do believe that the future use cases will be driven by new AI enablement. Today, we see an accelerated adoption of video analytics on-camera, on-premises appliances and in the Cloud — where deep-learning software and processing combined with storage — can deliver more real-time analysis and drive higher business value long-term. The sky’s the limit on these new use cases. Hence, we are making sure our HDD and microSD cards are designed and tested to deliver the reliability and endurance in a cost-efficient way to support these new AI workload requirements. No drive is the same and our WD Purple product line is optimized for these workloads.

In closing, what can readers learn from this deep dive and can they get a copy of the survey results?

Vervaet: Absolutely. The report can be found here. The thought I want to leave you with is there is a shift happening where basic video capture is being replaced by smart events from which we are able to extract more insights, powered by deep-learning algorithms and the increased input from more data sources, for example thermal, audio, infrared, etc. These insights will help us to make smarter and timelier decisions in places such as our kids’ school, public transportation sites and enterprise businesses, driving a safer, better end-user experience and new business models.

About the Author


Scott Goldfine is Editor-in-Chief and Associate Publisher of Security Sales & Integration. Well-versed in the technical and business aspects of electronic security (video surveillance, access control, systems integration, intrusion detection, fire/life safety), Goldfine is nationally recognized as an industry expert and speaker. Goldfine is involved in several security events and organizations, including the Electronic Security Association (ESA), Security Industry Association (SIA), Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC), False Alarm Reduction Association (FARA), ASIS Int'l and more. Goldfine also serves on several boards, including the SIA Marketing Committee, CSAA Marketing and Communications Committee, PSA Cybersecurity Advisory Council and Robolliance. He is a certified alarm technician, former cable-TV tech, audio company entrepreneur, and lifelong electronics and computers enthusiast. Goldfine joined Security Sales & Integration in 1998.

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