What’s the best storage solution for law enforcement?

What’s the best storage solution for law enforcement?
As the use of video for law enforcement continues to become more and more popular, concerns regarding how best to store the captured footages persist. The number of sources that capture videos is increasing, from body-worn cameras and in-car cameras to those fixed on drones and even robots. It would be safe to assume that the number of footages, their length, and quality would only increase in the coming years. Hence, a storage solution that can keep up with these demands would become increasingly important. 

Cloud may not be the answer

As the scale of surveillance operations continue to go up, moving storage to cloud services that camera companies offer may appear attractive at first. However, law enforcement agencies have to comply with regulations that restrict the movement of evidence captured and moving data to a cloud would risk breach of these. But some might argue that a well-managed cloud-based solution would offer better protection against cyber threats, which has become a grave concern of late. 

In a whitepaper from Enterprise Strategy Group, Dan Conde, an analyst at the company pointed out that storage of video surveillance footage is different from that of regular data due to such regulatory requirements on data sovereignty. 

“Although it is convenient to start using the cloud-based storage provided by the video camera vendors, it is important to understand the long-term implications of doing so for law enforcement and IT,” Conde noted. “Storage of body camera video evidence is different than storage of regular files, email, or even regular photographic evidence. Evidence cannot be easily stored in the cloud, like email and word processing can, due to regulatory compliance requirements such as data sovereignty.”

Hybrid or on-premises storage uses will help address the range of these requirements related to location. Silos of video information from various sources reduce collaboration unless they are combined into a shared surveillance data lake.

Challenges in this regard

Regulatory compliances are just one factor that law enforcement authorities need to take into account. Given that length of an investigation may not always be predictable, and that more than one agency may be involved in the process, authorities must consider the necessity of retaining footages for extended periods and making it available to multiple parties. 

But perhaps at a basic level, there are other matters that may receive more importance. According to Conde, the top considerations that organizations must grapple with when deciding on a method for storing video data from body cameras are the total cost of ownership, the value of an integrated storage platform, management/collaboration, and regulatory compliance. 

“Finding a system that incorporates all of these requirements is the best way for an organization to meet its departmental goals, balancing cost and the very real needs related to providing service as a criminal justice agency,” he said. “This is an issue that has an impact on law enforcement agencies, metropolitan IT departments, and taxpayers alike.”

In short, factors affecting storage of surveillance footage in the law enforcement sector are not quite the same as those affecting other customers. It is important to have complete control over the footages for regulatory as well as practical purposes. 
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