Oct 19 2023

Modernizing Video Infrastructure for Sharing and Interoperability

Law enforcement jurisdictions must consider political, operational and technical challenges to video sharing.

Law enforcement agencies across the country are realizing the benefits of access to shared video streams from the private sector. Agencies today can leverage real-time intelligence from video and other sensor data from business campuses, homeowners associations and entertainment venues. Easy access to data in real time and recorded data for investigative purposes is not only yielding anecdotal success stories but also having a consequential impact on crime statistics as well.

While public-private partnerships are on the rise, it’s also imperative for law enforcement to leverage the shared use of video streams from a broad array of stakeholders within a jurisdiction as well as across levels of government and regional partners.

Surprisingly in some cases, it has become more difficult to share live video among subdivisions in a city or county than it is for the private sector to share video with police officers.

Click the banner below to explore potential hybrid cloud applications.

Various Challenges to Sharing Video Across Jurisdictions

For example, if police request access to video feeds from a school, there are challenges in several areas.

First and foremost are the political implications of classroom feeds that go to a real-time crime center. While these feeds are an obvious force multiplier in classroom safety, they are often met with opposition, especially from families.

Additionally, operational issues come into play for agencies that have concerns such as who does what, who pays for what and where the lines of demarcation are.

Conventional wisdom is that privacy or operational challenges are the most difficult to overcome. However, it is the technical difficulties that often slow the move toward video sharing in government due to a lack of centralized control or governance of video security systems.

LEARN MORE: How data center optimization helps agencies address security threats.

Technical Challenges Surface in Addressing Different Needs

Large cities and counties rarely have a one-size-fits-all approach to video security, access controls and alarm systems. What may work well for firefighters may be missing key features that are sorely lacking at the water utility.

Law enforcement’s citywide surveillance platforms may be too complicated and feature-rich for simply protecting parks and recreation offices. Therefore, most large jurisdictions have a wide variety of cameras from various manufacturers, which often are controlled by disparate video management platforms. In such situations, each department selects its own toolsets.

At the heart of the problem is the fact that some video platforms are closed systems and do not allow any ability for cross-platform sharing. Any agency that wishes to share video with law enforcement or across departmental boundaries must exclude these solution sets from consideration.

Other solutions may offer access to sharing but might not control camera functionality such as pan-tilt-zoom. Agencies may approve these solutions for consideration, but buyers must be aware of their limitations. Some solutions allow for full absorption of access and control by another solution, often referred to as federation of video platforms. Such an environment is the most desired for interoperability but is the most difficult to achieve.

DIVE DEEPER: Find out more about identifying vunerabilities

Comprehensive Planning Can Overcome Sharing Obstacles

Regardless of the fundamental differences among video management platforms, a more common challenge regarding video interoperability is typically associated with cybersecurity and network access and resources. Technology governance is nuanced from agency to agency, even when there is a central authority regulating its use.

Agencies often have individual compliance measures in place that differ from each other, and in many cases information security responsibilities are internal to the subdivision and not the network security department.

Developing an enterprisewide approach to video management and related network and hardware infrastructure is the first step to creating an environment conducive to interoperability. Developing even a modicum of overall governance with respect to video and the Internet of Things in general is essential to realizing the benefits of modernized technologies.

A comprehensive planning approach should include best practices for network sharing and security of live video feeds as well as reference system-to-system interconnection architectures. This comprehensive planning, securing, operating and engineering policy coupled with an approved options list of solutions will help make interoperability and video sharing achievable.

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


Shansekala / Getty Images

Become an Insider

Unlock white papers, personalized recommendations and other premium content for an in-depth look at evolving IT