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Sustainable security using cloud solutions

January 7, 2020

Zankar Abhyankar   

Senior Consultant, Tata Consultancy Services

In this guest post, Zankar Abhyankar of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) describes how the company is helping to protect the environment by re-imagining CCTV storage for its offices in India. 

Today’s IT industry comes under a fair amount of criticism for the high levels of CO2 it is responsible for. Data centres – where cooling typically accounts for half of all power consumed – are the most common culprits. That is why companies in the Tata Group use the latest techniques to cut such emissions, including low carbon cooling and waste heat recovery systems. 

Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) found a different and fundamental way to improve its carbon footprint as a by-product of its quest for ever-more-effective physical security and cyber-security…

The hidden burden of traditional CCTVs

At TCS, like in most large global businesses, a major part of our physical security strategy is closed-circuit TV (CCTV) monitoring. We recently took a close look at how we manage CCTV at our facilities in India and the numbers were staggering: more than 150 buildings―from small offices to huge data centres―are overseen by nearly 6,000 video cameras. Their output was kept on tape for six months, each with a weekly backup tape stored remotely. In a never-ending cycle, thousands of tape copies were constantly in transit.

“The penny really dropped when we investigated the environmental impact of that process.”

Across India, 6,000 CCTV tapes were being driven a total distance of some 4.3 million kilometres every year to and from fireproof media stores. We calculated if the vehicles were diesel-powered and returning a modest 15 kilometres per litre, then at 2.65 kilograms of CO2 per litre, transporting those tapes would create over 760 metric tonnes of CO2. This was a conservative estimate. Allowing for maneuvering and tick-over, the actual CO2 burden would certainly be much higher.

Partners in protecting the environment

“Like in all Tata Group companies, corporate responsibility and sustainability is at the core of TCS, extending to people, planet and profit.”

So, digitising our CCTV operation was a golden opportunity to reduce our impact on the environment.

We worked with Tata Communications to reimagine our CCTV video storage in the cloud, with geo-redundancy through separate, virtual backup domains in green data centres across the country. We couldn’t risk the overload of carrying CCTV data traffic over our corporate network. Using the public internet was not an option either. We solved the issue by using Ethernet links to create a firewall-protected extension to our intranet for the CCTV traffic.

Profiting people and the planet

The sustainability dividend of our re-imagined CCTV data storage will be huge. Thousands of tapes will no longer be transported back and forth, slashing our annual carbon footprint by more than 760 metric tonnes.

Among other benefits, we’ll be able to free up large amounts of physical storage space for better use. We’ll save annual media expenses of US$70,000. We’ll no longer waste 4,000 man-hours a year labelling, packaging, and shipping tapes. Highly qualified IT staff will be able to do more value-add work. And having footage digitised and online means suspect images can be accessed in minutes rather than days, making security investigations happen in near-real time.

We’re now in the process of rolling out the CCTV storage solution globally to multiply the positive impact of this initiative on the planet.

“When it comes to the increasingly important search for ways to reduce carbon footprints there’s an object lesson: one shouldn’t only look in the obvious places.”

It’s not often that a digital transformation project yields quantifiable benefits for people and the planet while improving profitability―all in one go. By re-thinking how we approach CCTV storage in our facilities throughout the world, we’re doing just that.


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