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21st Century Operations Using 21st Century Technologies

Transportation Management Centers: Streaming Video Sharing and Distribution - Final Report

Appendix B. Video Sharing Practices

Minnesota Department of Transportation Questionnaire for Vendors (filled out by Skyline Technology Solutions)

Minnesota DOT logo.

Streaming Video Sharing Practices

Questionnaire Guide: Vendors
May 2, 2018

Technical Details and Specifications

  1. What hardware (e.g. encoders, servers) is supported, including specifications, to deliver streaming video service?
    1. Skyline supports all IP video streams that originate from cameras, encoders or video management devices. These include
      1. VMS — Milestone, Genetec, Cisco, Onssi, and many others to source the video streams
      2. Camera Encoders — Cohu, WTI, Axis, Sequira/Optelecom, Cortec, Bosch, Pelco, and many others
    2. Skyline's ability to normalize any IP video stream to a standard H.264, RTP, frame rate, bandwidth, and resolution allows Skyline to ingest any legacy IP video stream. We have created a transcoding hardware appliance to handle this process for all legacy video feeds. Modern cameras can provide a native standard stream.
  2. What format is video delivered in and is it selectable?
    1. RTSP — for Video walls, VMS, and any solution using a VLC player
    2. RTMP/Flash — web enabled portals, browsers are starting to phase this out
    3. CLSP — created by skyline to replace the low latency, highly scalable RTMP (HTML5 Compliant)
    4. HLS/HTTPLive — used by all Mobile phones and tablets (HTML5 Compliant)
    5. The video is delivered in the format required by the end device of the user requesting the video without any intervention from the user.
  3. How much bandwidth is needed and how is it balanced for daily non-peak, peak, and big surges related to weather events or major incidents?
    1. Public and large scale partner distribution is generally distributed at 192kb per stream 15 frames per second, 320x240 resolution
    2. Our solution requires one stream from each video source. If the video requires normalization, it is first pulled into our transcoding appliance. From there, the video is sent to our streaming appliances, which are either located on the client's ISP, or in many cases the streams are sent to our data center.
    3. The streaming appliances can handle 400 unique source feeds and can provide up to 4,500 views from each appliance based on 192kb feeds. During times of peak demand, your internal network will only pull one stream from the camera. The streaming appliance provides the replication point.
    4. 1,000 feeds would require 3 streaming appliances and could support 13,500 concurrent feeds, if request exceed that amount another steamer could be added to distribute the load.
    5. Our large hosted clients share a 1gbps ISP that can burst up to 10gbps if required.
    6. Winter storms over the last several years demonstrate large amounts of viewers over 12–16 hours with no issues.
    7. An additional higher bandwidth stream can be pulled from the camera for use in the TMC and potentially sent to the media. This is up to the source agency and these feeds are general set up as on-demand. Meaning the video stream is only requested from the internal network upon request. This reduces the impact of large resolution video.
  4. Who provides bandwidth — the agency, an enterprise agency, or the vendor?
    1. Client's choice — it depends upon the capacity of their own ISP services and infrastructure.
      1. Manage their own ISP — Maryland, Pennsylvania, Missouri, West Virginia
      2. Skyline hosts ISP — Virginia, South Carolina, Michigan, Tennessee, DC, (soon Texas and NYS)
  5. Similar to bandwidth management, how is load balancing managed on the server side?
    1. Skyline scales the appliances based on the expected highest load, we typically include a spare appliance at each location to facilitate immediate replacement to avoid any breaks in service. We can also monitor usage of particular cameras. If a particular camera is seeing consistently excessive use, then we can simply move cameras around to other streaming appliances to accommodate.
    2. Because you have the ability to track the usage overtime you can then make architectural changes
  6. What type of firewall equipment is used to ensure security yet facilitate access?
    1. Depending on the client Skyline can provide a firewall or can work with the client to configure their firewall.
    2. Skyline is a network engineering company by birth, we manage statewide networks and are familiar with all manufactures and types of firewalls.
    3. Our solution is designed to align with agency security rules. All video is provided from a network DMZ that is managed by the firewall. Users make requests for video only over ports 1935 and 554 and will only ever be able to access the streaming appliance on the DMZ. Separating the internal from the external
  7. How can software requirements or plug-ins (e.g. Flash) that are likely to interfere with user security restrictions be avoided? Are solutions such as HTML5 being implemented or considered?
    1. Currently our solution provides RTSP, RTMP, CLSP and HLS today
    2. Both HLS and CLSP are HTML5 compliant
    3. When a site uses a player it can dictate the format requested.
  8. Does MnDOT's process of re-encoding video from multiple cameras and formats to provide a consistent overall video format for a feed save any costs?
    1. Yes. If you are able to provide all your video feeds in H.264, RTSP, and the correct frame rate and size, that will avoid the need to install any Transcoding/Normalizing appliances.
  9. What platforms can video be delivered to — desktop, mobile, etc.?
    1. Any device that can play h.264 video, the solution is designed to support any player on any device
  10. How is video labeled to identify date, time, location, etc.?
    1. Placing external embedded images can be done during normalize process, this is very processor intensive and would require a large amount of hardware.
    2. We suggest providing this information in the video player as a label or title for the video.
    3. Another option is to apply a label at the camera itself.

User Group Management

  1. Can different qualities of video be provided to different user groups? For example, higher quality for broadcast media and lower quality for the public.
    1. Yes, with an additional higher quality feed pulled from the camera, Skyline can provide high and low quality feeds to separate user groups.
    2. We would set up separate streamers to pull in the higher quality streams. Which allows the agency to use an access list on their firewall to limit access to the high quality streaming appliance.
  2. How is blocking sensitive video managed across different groups of users?
    1. Skyline has a stream manager that allows the client to block any feed to any group of users. When public and media are cut off, the trusted partners can still see the video streams.
    2. Skyline has also used API's to integrate with ATMS applications so operators can check a box in the application that sends an offline message to the stream manager.
  3. What options are available to support multi-agency (e.g. police, cities, counties) sharing — in terms of both technical and cost-sharing features?
    1. Skyline has created several portals to support multi-agency video sharing.
    2. The Claris portal provides interface and access management to trusted partners. Typically, the DOT purchases this software and then provides access to the portal for its partners.
    3. Cost savings comes from not maintaining one off connections or user licenses for other applications.
  4. Can video from other agencies be streamed through the same system that distributes it?
    1. Yes, in most states the DOT will incorporate video from counties, cities, and other public agencies
    2. The other source agencies can also provide their own video
    3. Skyline can provide any support needed to incorporate those video sources
  5. Are users given multiple video feeds (e.g. video from several cameras in one browser window) or are they restricted to one feed (e.g. video from one camera in a browser window)?
    1. Claris portal can display as many cameras as the pc can handle
    2. Most 511 sites restrict the viewer to one camera
    3. Other portals can play as many as the would like.
  6. Is video provided as a continuous feed, if requested, or are time outs built into the feed?
    1. Videos are continuous
    2. Timeouts are typically done at the application level
  7. Is there a “dispatch center” option that allows multiple cameras to be opened in a window, without timing out?
    1. Claris can be configured to stay on continuously, this is done specifically for operation centers
  8. How are user accounts managed (e.g. adding accounts, resetting passwords) and what lessons can be shared?
    1. Claris has a robust multi-level admin approach. Each agency maintains their users, cameras, device groups and most importantly who has access to their cameras.
    2. Other agencies maintain who can access their cameras, and so on.
    3. Our clients have SOP's, agreements and service level expectations that can be repurposed by new clients to support their video sharing programs.

Experiences with DOTs

  1. How is streaming video integrated with existing traveler information services?
    1. Skyline provides API's to all the 511 applications from our Stream Manager which also provides the meta data for the cameras. Typically the sites poll the API to get updates status' on the cameras
  2. Can vendors describe cost and technical incentives along with case studies?
    1. Yes, we can supply case studies and will forward to you separately upon request.
    2. Skyline will provide a high level ROM no later 6/15/18. Each state has many variables that impact the amount and location of equipment which impacts cost. So we can provide a more specific ROM for MnDOT.
  3. Are advertising or other mechanisms ever used to offset costs?
    1. This has been tried many times and not much revenue has ever been provided. Challenges are speed of decision making, many browsers already saturate the market with cookie related marketing.
  4. What have your experiences been with providing this kind of services for DOTs? Any lessons learned that could improve the process?
    1. We currently support video distribution in 8 states and DC, and are in the process of adding NY and TX
    2. We provide 24/7 support and for hosted clients we monitor the appliances and network via our 24/7 Network Operations Center located at our office with a redundant site at one of our three supported data centers. This means you call skyline and receive a ticket for every issue you report or that we find through monitoring.
    3. Utilization is highest during the late afternoon
    4. Skyline understands your network environment and will always consider all network implications when implementing appliances in your environment. Moving video around tends to shed light on network vulnerabilities and we are well versed in identifying and recommending solutions for those.
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