Why Hybrid Data Storage Might Be Best When Expanding Police Body Camera Use

Police on hand as South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley signs legislation requiring state law enforcement to wear body cameras in June 2015 in North Charleston

Police on hand as South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley signs legislation requiring state law enforcement to wear body cameras in June 2015 in North Charleston North Charleston / Flickr.com

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

Demand for high-definition body cameras is at an all-time high, but the resulting data can be too much for some departments to handle.

When the Oakland Police Department gave nearly 200 officers body cameras in 2010 use of force incidents dropped 73.8 percent. The Northern California city hasn’t had an officer-involved shooting in 18 months.

Local governments increasingly want to equip police with “always-on” body cameras, but the large volume of data produced requires a hybrid solution where video evidence is readily accessible and less-sensitive information archived. A year’s worth of data from a single body cam can equal a terabyte—way too much for traditional disc space storage to handle for cheap.

Steve Ward, a police officer for 15 years who in 2007 founded Seattle-based body camera company VIEVU, noticed squad cars were typically outfitted with cameras even though officers are in them only about 5 percent of their shift.

In the seven years Ward has been putting cameras on cops, 4,000 police agencies have signed on to his company’s platform. And that number has skyrocketed in the last six months, he told Route Fifty in an interview, just as more high-profile police-involved shooting incidents sparked a larger law enforcement policy discussion across the nation.

And with that body-camera policy discussion has come an important technical discussion: What’s the best—and most economical—way for a law enforcement agency to store all the data from the amassed video footage?

“It used to be we would have to go out and tell police chiefs why need they needed our technology, but in the past year body cameras have become de facto,” Ward said. “My opinion is they’ll be in every department within two years, and the biggest difference is law enforcement is switching from not wanting a cloud to wanting a cloud.”

A year ago, less than 10 percent of police agencies wanted cloud-based storage, he added, but a recent Microsoft poll of 450 police officers found an “overwhelming majority” wants it now.

So VIEVU partnered with Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft to host its secure file management software on the Azure Government Cloud—the first-ever system to connect with the FBI’s database in compliance with stringent Criminal Justice Information Service policies.

Most of VIEVU’s customers want to manage their video themselves, and this gives them the storage space without having to hire additional IT staff to manage hard drives and servers. One software platform is executable on a local machine and another stores video locally on the cloud, with a fully-hosted cloud version also available for greater security.

For $55 a month, clients get an LE3 HD camera, VERIPATROL software on the cloud, 60 gigabytes of storage that’s expandable at $0.125-a-gigabyte-a-month, and 24-hour support. They can deploy as many cameras as they want.

Average video retention of non-evidence for most police agencies is 90 days, after which VIEVU’s software will delete the files, but it has methodologies so videos can be flagged and saved forever or have metadata like case reports added to them.

“Educating people about storage is no longer a peripheral part of the solution; it’s the foundation folks need to think about building a security infrastructure on,” said Wayne Arvidson, Quantum Corporation vice president of video solutions. “As they look for a solution, they want to look for something to balance performance and scalability with the budget they’ve got—solutions allowing them to do their job and meet their objectives of protecting people while not becoming professional data managers.”

The San Jose-based data storage company offers a hybrid alternative to the Azure Government Cloud in the form of a tiered environment: disc-space storage kept as small as possible to meet short-term retention policies backed up by cloud or magnetic tape storage serving as an archive. This minimizes the disc space video footage takes.

Quantum’s file system was developed 18 years ago for imagery and mapping intelligence apps and looks no different than a C drive to users. Files can be double-clicked without officers needing to know the tier of storage data is being migrated from.

Storage done wrong can cost half a law enforcement agency’s body-camera budget depending on retention times and the number of cameras in use, Arvidson said. In Alberta, Canada, the Calgary Police Department has about 1,500 officers and originally couldn’t afford to keep video data more than a few days because body cams were capturing 18 gigabytes every shift.

Quantum offers a 750-terabyte "data aware" storage solution, where files are moved over to tape or cloud storage—depending on the client's budget—if not accessed for 15 days.

“The cloud is supplanting local storage in general, and it’s pretty amazing,” Ward said. “Eighteen thousand law enforcement agencies are having to manage their infrastructure, and a lot of departments are re-creating the wheel when it’s not cost-effective to do that.”

As the law enforcement continues to look at body cameras as a way to improve prosecutions and boost crime prevention efforts, Arvidson said, police agencies will want more cameras, better resolution and longer video-retention periods.

And hybrid storage solutions are the only way to handle the increased data, he said.

“Very comprehensive analytics are being applied to surveillance data concerning how we keep somebody from actually doing crime, not how to catch them,” Arvidson said. “In the past it’s really been about picking cameras to cover the field of view, lighting conditions, amount of detail, and what to use to manage that data.”

(Photo by North Charleston / Flickr.com)

Dave Nyczepir is News Editor for Government Executive’s Route Fifty.

NEXT STORY: States Crack Down on Driver's License Fraud

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.