Technological change is redefining efficiency in many use cases, from retail to health care, and government to city surveillance. With the availability of new devices that can capture large amounts of data, one particular use case has begun aggregating video content at a rapidly increasing rate — law enforcement. The proliferation of body-worn cameras imposed by government mandates is adding to the many camera streams coming from police car dashboards, interview rooms, and sally ports that provide valuable insight to law enforcement agencies.
Almost daily there is a story about the demand for body worn video devices to be used by law enforcement agencies across the globe. There is also a lot of discussion about the Federal funding available to US police departments for this new camera technology – in May this year the Justice Department announced $20 million in grants, towards the $75 million the Obama administration requested over three years. What this funding doesn’t cover - and the biggest challenge faced by agencies in implementation - is how to build out a storage infrastructure to manage and protect the vast amount of data these devices produce. This challenge is compounded by new devices that support higher resolutions and are used by increasing numbers of officers per department. There is a solution, which if implemented can help departments across the globe speed up the adoption of this technology and valuable tool. Quantum's Wayne Arvidson, Vice President of Surveillance Solutions, recently sat down with Tom Temin on his “Federal Drive” program for Federal News Radio to discuss how to solve the challenges of body worn devices.
If you were building a police department from the ground up, where would you begin? Where do you go to stock up on holsters, handcuffs, badges, flashlights, guns, dispatch centers, in-car computers, police cars and the myriad other gear required by modern law enforcement? A good place to start is the Police Security Expo, held this year in Atlantic City. It’s like a superstore for police. And Quantum was there, because police departments increasingly need to include storage on their shopping list. This was my chance to check out the latest on-body cameras that have been in the news so much lately. Think of something about the size of a GoPro, but even more heavy duty, and sophisticated enough to actually begin recording 10 seconds before you press Record. The vendors selling these cameras typically had a good crowd of officers being educated on what it’s like to live with them on a daily basis, and the question of storage always came up. It’s a good thing, because law enforcement agencies are routinely generating over 1PB of data a year.
Recent very public incidents involving residents and police have sparked a conversation of the value of equipping police with on-body video surveillance—not for security monitoring, but to provide law enforcement and citizens with a single source of truth. Cambridge University recently completed a study of the police department in Rialto, California—a city of about 100,000—where they saw an 89% reduction in the number of complaints against officers in a year-long trial using body cameras. Without accurate video evidence taken at the point of an incident, it becomes almost impossible to know what really happened. And in the absence of visual proof, assumptions run wild and events can spiral out of control.