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Police Body Cameras Press Release

July 14, 2014

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Police Body Worn Video Management: Cloud-Hosted Storage vs. On-Site Storage


Whether to purchase body worn cameras is an important decision for a police department.  While which camera to purchase is usually considered the main decision, backend video storage is another important factor to consider.  How the body worn video is going to be stored is also extremely important and there is some debate over what is the best. 

There are two main options.  The first is on-site storage.  This means that there is a server for the body worn camera video owned and managed by the agency.  The second is cloud hosted storage.  This means that the videos are uploaded to a third party facility and hosted there.

Let’s look at on-site storage.  On site storage has many advantages.  It has much cheaper upfront costs than cloud, the police department has total control of all aspects of storage, video is available almost immediately after download, and there is excellent video management software available to ensure complete chain-of-custody, audit reports and correct filing of the body-worn video.

First, let’s compare costs.  For 15 TB of cloud hosted storage (at $1.50 per GB per year), the cost is about $24,000 per year.  This is for storage alone and does not include other costs such as internet service for uploading or downloading, licensing fees or annual service maintenance etc. 

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On the other hand, a 97 TB RAID 6 server is also about $24,000.  This is a one-time cost and gets a police department much more bang for their buck with more than 6 times the capacity for the same price without reoccurring expenses.  Video management software is also needed. For 10 cameras, it’s about $2,000.

Security is also something to consider.  Others store their data in the same facility. Cloud storage faculties are still venerable to the hacking, DDOS attacks and other cyber security breaches. Even if the police department’s data is not the target of the attack, it could still be affected by an attacker who is going after someone else’s data.  This has already happened to a company that used Amazon cloud services to store its customers data. Hackers got in and deleted everything. Read the article here. It's what cloud based storage providers don't want you to read.

Another thing to keep in mind about cloud is that video upload time may be slow even with the best internet infrastructure and bandwidth.  Since it uses the department’s internet, internet may be noticeably slower for all personnel while video is uploading. Video can take 20 minutes or more to become available online after uploading.  If video is needed immediately during an emergency, there is simply no way to get it faster.

Proponents of cloud argue that on-site storage leads to a loss of officer productivity and that everything must be done manually.  Their cost estimates are wildly exaggerated and make it appear that a department would need a veritable army of people to manage it.  Supporters of cloud argue that managing body worn video is time consuming, complicated and causes a huge loss of time and production.  This is not the case with the Wolfcom Management Software.  Uploading and downloading video is fast and can be done automatically.  Once a camera, such as the Wolfcom Vision, is plugged into a docking station, downloading and charging begins automatically.  The video is encrypted once it is ingested by the software. The officer’s badge number, the unit number, the time and date of recording, GPS coordinates, and other metadata is automatically associated with the video.  It is then filed and moved to storage according to the department’s configuration settings. Sharing video via the software is also fast.  Other agencies with the Wolfcom Management Software, such as the DA, can be sent a copy via internet (no DVDs necessary), the original video stays put, and since everything stays within the WMS environment, everything is logged in the chain-of-custody audit report.

Cloud storage seems so good, so convenient, but it is really as good as it claims to be?  IT tasks are not managed by law enforcement agency personnel, but it is being managed and maintained by someone and the storage is rented, not owned.  The police department is simply paying someone else, who is not a police officer or employee of your city or county, to maintain everything.  If the department chooses to discontinue service in the end, they must download all of their video off the cloud to their own on-site server anyway.

The debate is really about cloud convenience vs. complete on-site control. If you are still unsure, let me ask you this: How much do you trust the cloud with your own personal data, your own documents and your own pictures?  Could it be you still store all of your own digital assets on on-site HDD?  Why is that?  

In conclusion, on-site is the best choice.  Body worn video recorded by police officers is extremely important.  It is evidence.  It is a record of police interactions with the public, witness statements, crime scenes and other footage critical to criminal justice that must be protected and completely secure for a variety of reasons. Preserve it on-site.

About Wolfcom 3rd Eye
Wolfcom Enterprises manufactures the ultimate Law Enforcement Tool. The Wolfcom 3rd Eye is much more than just a body camera. It is a Multi-Purpose, Multi-Functional Indispensable Law Enforcement tool that will assist officers in their day to day duties.

Founded in 2001, Wolfcom has launched several innovative products for Private Investigators, Law Enforcement, Military, and Consumers alike. Over the years, Our core experience and expertise has been in Audio and Video, Security Surveillance, Night Vision Cameras, Digital Video Recorders, and Covert Pinhole Wireless Spy cameras. This valuable experience in Audio and Video that we accumulated over the last 12 years set the stage for the release of the Wolfcom 3rd Eye.