3 expert tips for storing your PD’s digital evidence
Struggling to store and manage all that video evidence? Here’s how to do it right.
The following is paid content sponsored by Dell EMC.
By Sean Curtis for PoliceOne BrandFocus
Police departments are processing a tremendous amount of video footage as evidence of crimes, which includes managing, storing and ensuring it is court admissible.
At first glance, it can seem overwhelming. However, it can be a seamless process if the right tools are in place so the data can be analyzed and used for actionable intelligence.
TIP 1: THINK BEYOND BODY CAMERAS
Body cameras seem to get the most press lately for officers’ actions in the field.
But body cameras are just one component of the video data that police departments are tasked with managing, said EMC’s Chief Technology Officer Ken Mills. EMC offers software that manages video evidence, among other features.
In fact, Mills said currently there’s a litany of other technologies used by police department and officers collecting evidence. This includes video, surveillance cameras, drones, in-car video, mobile devices as well as cell phone downloads to even complete mirror images of hard drives—potentially terabytes of information.
Because of the diversity of digital data collected, police departments must build a data platform that can collect, store and manage individual pools of data. Instead of having a separate storage solution whether it be in the cloud or in your datacenter for each evidence type, police departments need to invest in a common storage platform that can more efficiently and more cost effectively manage all your evidence regardless of the source..
Mills said not addressing all the different video storage needs holistically can lead to big problems for agencies down the line.
“You create an overwhelming challenge for the agency to manage its video long-term,” he warned. “This is not just a 5-year problem, it is a 25-year problem.”
TIP 2: CHOOSE OPEN PLATFORMS
Open platform enables departments to integrate body camera data with the best available industry applications.
Mills said many agencies have invested in programs that create, utilize, or provide data that is proprietary and cannot be manipulated. To avoid the risk of limiting video to a single company’s platform, departments should bypass a closed solution as it may prevent other key applications gaining access to that data.
Because the video world is constantly changing, an open platform will enable departments to implement the best solutions today and tomorrow.
He said people demand more from data; they want to pull that information from isolated ecosystems so they can use it and manipulate it. Open platforms provide that scalability and flexibility that agencies need without binding them to separate cloud storage solutions.
TIP 3: CONSIDER ALTERNATIVES IN ADDITION TO CLOUD STORAGE
The size of the agency and the breadth of a body camera program’s implementation will often define the storage requirements. Each state is different as far as what the law mandates for the length of retention for the data collected. And while cloud storage has its benefits, other storage solutions may be a better option for police departments.
Mills said on average, each body camera can expect to require a minimum of 1TB of storage per year. Mills said many agencies are looking at regional evidence clouds that are secured, and it works well for them. Other agencies may look for more traditional storage like data centers with banks of storage servers.
Department heads trying to maintain budgets and plan for additional personnel to monitor the data should consider alternative storage solutions that cost considerably less to deploy and provide an overall better total cost of ownership, he said. Storage, management, and consuming of digital data can be used through standard or cloud storage as long as it is not limited by proprietary boundaries—meaning an agency could invest in a cloud solution for one particular data point, such as secondary weapons.
Police agencies face an ever-growing need for digital storage—not just from body cameras—but from myriad sources. Using an open platform data management system is a cost effective approach which will ensure various file types are maintained, useable, and meeting your agency’s needs for years to come.