"One embodiment is a method of storing video data from a video surveillance system having one or more cameras. Video data is captured from one or more surveillance cameras. Meta-data is automatically generated by performing video analysis on the captured video data from the surveillance cameras. A human operator may manually enter additional meta-data. Attribute data and associated weights, representing information about the relevance of the meta-data, is received. The video data is stored in a hierarchical video storage area; the meta-data, indexed by date and time stamp to the video data, is stored in a meta-data storage area; and the attribute data is stored in an attribute storage area. One or more alerts may be issued based on the past and present meta-data. The video data is secured by encrypting and storing the video data remotely, and audit trails are generated about who and when viewed the video data."