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Cities turn to Seagate for smart traffic management

Cities turn to Seagate for smart traffic management
It should come as no surprise that traffic is growing worse by the year in the U.S. Across the country, commuters on average spend 42 hours a year in traffic, according to a report by the Texas Transportation Institute. Last year, congestion cost the U.S. US$305 billion, a $10 billion increase from 2016.
It should come as no surprise that traffic is growing worse by the year in the U.S. Across the country, commuters on average spend 42 hours a year in traffic, according to a report by the Texas Transportation Institute. Last year, congestion cost the U.S. US$305 billion, a US$10 billion increase from 2016.

These traffic jams aren’t just a nuisance to drivers. When an accident happens on a gridlocked highway, emergency vehicles can lose precious time trying to navigate roads. This can lead to exponentially increased response times, putting lives at risk. The ride-hailing economy and driverless cars may help to reduce the U.S.’ traffic woes. However, smart traffic management is shaping up to be the immediate answer to alleviate these growing pains, and Seagate Technology’s surveillance storage solutions are playing an instrumental role.

The value of smart traffic management

With denser populations and a need to maintain a high quality of life for residents, large urban hubs are beginning to leverage recent advancements in technology to make their cities smarter and more efficient. Smart traffic management is a smart city application that involves the capture, storage and processing of vast amounts of traffic data from city surveillance cameras. This data includes identifying accidents, road debris, inclement weather, wrong-way drivers and peak traffic areas. This information can then be used to sync traffic signals, alert drivers of road obstacles, and notify drivers of faster routes -- all of this to maximize traffic flow, operations and mobility.

To make smart traffic management a reality, data must be collected and stored for deep learning. In some cases, data is stored for over a year to identify trends and strengthen the system’s predictive powers based on past traffic flows. To enable this kind of long retention of “big data,” reliable storage solutions are a must.

Data storage architecture for smart cities

Today, smart cities are turning to Seagate to meet their storage needs for traffic management. For over a decade, Seagate has pioneered surveillance-optimized storage and continues to lead the industry with groundbreaking reliability, capacity and innovations. From the edge to the backend, Seagate’s solutions record and store every frame, while also simultaneously capturing valuable data to create business intelligence.

In many smart city deployments, centralizing storage or recording devices is a challenge. Imagine a large metropolis that deploys 10,000 high definition video cameras with analytics and license plate recognition across the city. This system will produce petabytes of data including video and metadata. Streaming this content back to a centralized location would create significant latency and bandwidth issues. As a result, smart cities today are adopting an “edge tier” approach to store, filter and manage data closer to the sensors. To gain deeper traffic insights, the data is then stored and analyzed for longer periods of time in the edge domain as well as in the cloud or backend. Here’s where Seagate comes into the picture with their portfolio of storage devices to cater different needs.

Securing video storage with Seagate

Advanced city surveillance cameras transmit data to NVRs on-site for data recording, aggregation and analysis. However, vibration, excess heat and other external forces have been known to cause data loss in many standard hard drives, which are under increasing stress. In this age of artificial intelligence (AI) and smart city applications, drive workloads must support both video and metadata. In other words, a more robust storage solution is needed for AI applications, and Seagate’s SkyHawk drives are optimized for the task.

Designed for 24x7 workloads, SkyHawk surveillance drives leverage up to 14 terabytes designed for DVR and NVR systems.  SkyHawk drives are equipped with ImagePerfect software, minimizing dropped frames and reducing downtime for up to 64 HD cameras at a time. Also within the product family is SkyHawk AI, which supports 32 additional AI streams. Thanks to reliable SkyHawk drives, local police can retrieve and review video in real time upon detection of a stalled car or road obstacle. They can then send officers to the scene to help direct traffic.

The final place where data is centralized and stored is at the backend, or data center. Due to the large amounts of video and metadata being recorded and analyzed in these environments, cities are deploying Seagate’s 14-terabyte helium-based Exos enterprise drives. Exos X14 is immensely scalable and is optimized to store petabytes of data from thousands of cameras in a single enclosure with its robust read and write workloads.  For peace of mind, Seagate Secure encryption technology protects data-at-rest.

In these centralized command centers, data is mined and processed to deliver dashboards and reports to improve efficiency of traffic controls and crowd management.  Security personnel can monitor traffic patterns across the entire city, see heat maps of congested areas, identify peak traffic hours, and more. City officials can use these trends to proactively dispatch police to problem areas for additional safety, or change street light patterns to ease traffic. The analysis that these “backend” devices deliver truly yield the business intelligence that enables smart traffic management operations. This would not be possible without the adoption of the right storage in each tier. Deploying  low performance storage devices might not yield the result wanted and may increase the processing time for big data analysis.

Technology benefits

By using SkyHawk and Exos drives from the edge to back-end data center, cities ensure that they protect metadata alongside video data with best-in-class reliability. Public safety officials can also rest assured that important data will be preserved even in unforeseen circumstances.

In addition to its drives, Seagate also offers SkyHawk Health Management, or embedded drive health monitoring software that analyzes over a hundred drive parameters and makes preventative recommendations based on its advanced AI algorithms. The software keeps security personnel and systems integrators informed of the drive’s health at all times, allowing them to make real-time adjustments to prevent drive failure. Seagate also provides two-year Rescue Data Recovery plan services to provide even further data protection.

Lasting impact

As more urban centers begin to embrace smart city initiatives, results have been showing a steady uptick in key indicators such as quality of life and public safety. According to the McKinsey Global Institute’s “Smart Cities: Digital Solutions for a More Livable Future” 2018 report, data-optimized dispatching and synchronized traffic lights can cut emergency response times by 20-35 percent. Data driven smart mobility applications can reduce the average commuting time by 15-20 percent, and in cities like New York these technologies save the average commuter almost 15 minutes a day.

While these improvements can be seen across a variety of sectors, one key element stays the same: data. Every sensor, camera and connected internet of things (IoT) device sends its data stream to storage devices, which then either make the data immediately available for use, or store it for AI learning. Seagate’s lineup of reliable hard drives are placed at multiple points along the data workflow, capturing metadata alongside video data with increased reliability, resulting in greater insights. Cities across the globe -- from midsize urban areas like Kansas City to large metropolises like Beijing in China --  are turning to Seagate to power their data storage solutions for smart traffic management.
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