The Ins and Outs of Implementing Body-Worn Camera Solutions

More and more state and local police departments are moving towards employing body-worn police cameras and 24/7 video monitoring throughout their cities. While the data from video has become a strategic source of information for these police departments, there is little consensus over how to effectively and efficiently collect and store this data.

In order to clarify some of the confusion surrounding police video best practices, GovLoop’s recent State and Local Government Innovators Virtual Summit brought together Ted Hayduk, Global Consulting Solution Architect of Video Surveillance at NetApp, and Todd Rasmussen, Systems Technology Specialist at the Granite School District Police Department in the State of Utah, in the online training, Top Things to Consider When Implementing Video and Body-Worn Camera Solutions.

Police departments utilize different surveillance architectures based on which one is most appropriate for a certain scenario. For example, while dashboard cameras are the most prevalent technology currently deployed, body-worn cameras are becoming much more common. Hayduk emphasized that while the modalities of these architectures are different, they largely follow the same processes from data collection to storage. This means that once the video is collected and recorded it is synced and uploaded to a data storage center. The one difference between the two architectures is that they often go to different storage repositories.

Having different repositories for every surveillance architecture is problematic because it promotes duplicity and inefficiency. Hayduk explained, “the best way to leverage these architectures is to have a common repository for video that is accompanied by an evidence management system.” A consolidated approach allows for increased efficiency in categorizing video data as evidentiary or not and ultimately promotes costs savings.

Once an agency moves to consolidate their storage efforts, they must decide if they want a cloud based or in house storage solution. While there are benefits to both, in house storage solutions appear preferable and more cost effective. “In our department, we prefer on premise storage because we were able to customize it to fit our organizational and security needs,” Rasmussen explained.

The storage options that an agency chooses will ultimately depend on what their needs are. Hayduk explained, “Agencies keep different kinds of video data for different amounts of time. There are statutory guidelines that say how long each department has to keep all data but after that it is up to the discretion of the organization.” While some departments may keep evidentiary data for a set amount of years, others may keep it indefinitely. Each of those departments must have a storage solution that can meet those aims.

Agencies also have to evaluate which architectural solution is best for their overall mission. For Rasmussen in Salt Lake County, the most efficient solution is body-worn cameras. “While body worn cameras are initially more expensive, they perform the capabilities of a video camera, still camera, and audio device all in one,” he explained. Since Rasmussen’s team’s main mission is to protect the school district, body cameras are the most ideal device to record interactions between students and adults, traffic stops, and general interactions.

While many police departments across the country continue to adopt body-worn cameras and other video technologies, the general public can still be hesitant to endorse the trend. This was reflected in the audience of today’s online training as only 25 percent of participants strongly agreed that body cameras are not big brother. However, departments are taking public opinion in stride. “One of the hardest things we face with body-worn cameras is cultural acceptance but we are working within the department to be adaptable to societal changes and laws,” Rasmussen concluded.

You can see the full slides from the presentation here.


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