The video surveillance industry has undergone massive changes in recent years. Public safety demands have increased. New use cases for video data have emerged. And camera technology has improved, offering onboard analytics and 360-degree monitoring of viewing areas at a price point more affordable than ever before. As a result, more cameras are being deployed by both public and private entities alike.
Today, high resolution digital cameras are the expected standard for new implementations. These high-definition units—whether 720p, 1080p, or 4K—produce sharp, high-speed video images that must be processed and stored at a fast rate of speed. Video has always required a lot of bandwidth. But as the HD specifications of cameras increase, the images become sharper and the video files become even larger. Consequently, the installation of more HD cameras is putting stress on IT infrastructures to provide more bandwidth and storage capacity to handle the influx of these larger file sizes.
For the law enforcement community, video footage has been used for many years to help keep people and property safe as well as to serve as potential evidence in criminal cases. Today, that includes video from body-worn cameras. Many agencies are outfitting law enforcement officers with body-worn cameras in order to record interactions with suspects not only to aid in the prosecution of criminal cases but also to provide an enhanced level of accountability and transparency to the public regarding officer-involved actions. In fact, recent figures from IHS indicate 135,000 body camera units were shipped globally to the law enforcement market in 2015 (the UK and the US combining to make up 79% of the total), and they don’t expect the trend to slow down anytime soon.1
Implementing a body-worn camera program impacts IT beyond selecting and supporting the camera device. Body-worn units generate a large amount of data, and that data must be stored, protected, and managed—just how much data depends on the number of cameras deployed, the hours of recorded video captured per device, and the length of time the data is kept. Before making any decisions on technology, especially storage, here are three factors to consider:
- Retention Time - How long will you need to keep the data? Will it be kept for 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, or longer? Will it need to be kept for years? As video footage plays a larger role in predictive policing efforts and becomes even more scrutinized in legal cases, data retention policies and procedures must be adjusted accordingly. The question of how long to keep the data is an important one and will impact the storage options you choose and the architecture you select.
- Accessibility and Control – Where will the data be stored? Who will have access to the data? How will it be protected from unauthorized access? How will you maintain chain of custody? How easily will you be able to retrieve and analyze the data and how much will it cost to do so? Securing and maintaining the integrity of any item used as evidence in a legal case is important—and that includes video. As is often the case, not all body-worn solutions offer the same capabilities. Answering these and other questions will help you narrow down the list of options available so you can select the best solution for your situation.
- Scalability – Will the solution grow as your needs increase? Can you add more cameras when you need to without making major changes to your infrastructure? Will your storage platform easily scale to accommodate more data? Does your solution enable you to keep the data cost-effectively as laws change and retention times increase? With continued advancements in camera technology, facial recognition capability, and analytics, law enforcement use cases for video data will continue to increase, and your infrastructure must be capable of growing along with it.
Consider All Your Options
At ePlus, we specialize in helping our clients evaluate, implement, and support technology solutions. We provide expert assistance to help size your technology needs, design cloud, on-premise, or hybrid solutions based on your requirements, and provide coordination and training. We are an industry-leading technology integrator with deep expertise and long-standing relationships with the top manufacturers in the industry. Through those partnerships, we can help you leverage body-worn camera reference architectures and ensure you implement the best solution to meet your needs. In addition, through our dedicated grants team and financing organization, we can help you identify and apply for possible funding opportunities you may be eligible for as well as structure a financing agreement that aligns with your budget and fiscal boundaries.
1. “Video Surveillance Trends for 2016,” IHS