Competing body cam companies drive down prices for cops
Unfortunately, one place where expenses can mount is in the storage and management of the data they generate
By Christopher Mims
The Wall Street Journal
RIALTO, Calif. — Sometimes, like the moments leading up to when a police officer decides to shoot someone, transparency is an unalloyed good. And especially lately, technology has progressed to a point that it makes this kind of transparency not just possible, but routine.
So it is in Rialto, Calif., where an entire police force is wearing so-called body-mounted cameras, no bigger than pagers, that record everything that transpires between officers and citizens.
One problem with the cameras, however, has been cost. Fortunately, fierce competition between the two most prominent vendors of the devices, Vievu LLC and Taser International Inc., which makes the cameras used by Rialto police, has driven the price of individual cameras down to between $300 and $400. Unfortunately, one place where expenses can mount is in the storage and management of the data they generate.
Both Taser and Vievu offer cloud-based storage systems for a monthly subscription fee. Think of it as an evidence room-as-a-service, where vendors are happy to see police departments outsource some of their most critical functions, and be subject to the same kind of vendor lock-in that can make corporate IT managers wary of the cloud.