A Minneapolis Police Department officer wears a body camera during the Twin Cities Pride Parade in downtown Minneapolis, Minn., on June 24, 2018.

Apr 25 2019
Public Safety

Public Safety Agencies Weigh Storage Requirements in the Face of Video Demands

While some departments struggle with a surge of video data, new technologies tailor storage capabilities for high volumes.

Municipalities and public safety agencies increased scrutiny of storage requirements for video captured by police cameras, but they also are taking advantage of network improvements that empower video capabilities.

Politicians and community activists seized on police body cameras as a way to maintain public trust. About half of the 18,000 law enforcement agencies across the country adopted body-worn cameras in some form, although many are still pilot programs. 

Despite wide adoption, many departments, especially small departments, are considering reducing their programs due to the costs of storing and managing thousands of hours of video footage, reports The Washington Post.

McLennan County officials in Texas are assessing spending on data storage after a large amount of video evidence overwhelmed the district attorney’s office, reports The Waco Tribune-Herald

McLennan County should invest in a Dell EMC Isilon digital storage system that would expand storage from 80 terabytes to 178TB at a cost of more than $200,000, according to recommendations. Expanded storage also would help staff manage time more efficiently, experts say.

Law Enforcement Finds a Scalable Solution in Object Storage

Government agencies facing storage challenges may turn to object storage, reports GCN.

“Popularized as a way for cloud providers to store massive amounts of unstructured data, object storage is scalable and keeps physical footprints manageable. Because it’s available as a service, object storage can also be cost-effective. But its biggest benefit is its ability to meet modern data storage needs,” GCN reports.

Nutanix makes a strong case for object storage, observing that many cities store very high amounts of surveillance video. Requirements to record that video and run analyses on it would require “a non-disruptive scalable backend,” the company says

In such scenarios, object storage provides law enforcement with an appealing option:

  1. Cameras feed information to an application running on Windows clients.
  2. Data is stored in an encrypted object storage bucket, which stays there for about a week’s time.
  3. Post-processing analytic applications can easily crawl the single namespace and use this data to run facial recognition capabilities. Eventually, portions of data would be moved to another bucket for longer periods of storage.
  4. Streaming applications are able to load either real-time information or post-processed data and quickly help law enforcement agents.

States like California and Utah turned to Storage as a Service as a means to store a range of data, including audio, video and image files. Vendors also have started to offer on-premises storage solutions like Dell EMC Isilon Swift.

MORE FROM STATETECH: Find out how 5G network slicing technology can benefit public safety. 

First Responders Eye the Big Picture for Video Data

Meanwhile, more public safety agencies are adopting networks capable of handling the demands of large video streams. AT&T’s FirstNet broadband network enables first responders to access video and stream large amounts of data as priority communications.

“First Responder Network Authority works with AT&T to make sure first responders have a reliable and highly secure connection no matter if there is congestion for wireless services on the network,” says WPTV in a report on how the Riviera Beach Police Department in Palm Beach County, Fla., recently adopted FirstNet.

FirstNet officials are aware of the storage demands of large data streams. The FirstNet authority certified mobile devices and apps designed for first responders. As of March, the authority had approved more than 70 devices.

As capabilities and use cases for high-volume video data increase, more public safety agencies will seek end-to-end solutions for capturing, collecting and archiving video.

This article is part of StateTech's CITizen blog series. Please join the discussion on Twitter by using the #StateLocalIT hashtag.


Tony Webster/Wikimedia Commons

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