Is cloud storage usage for body worn cameras financially viable?

Police body worn cameras usage has been on rise from the last three years in US and cities such as San Diego and Topeka, Kansas., have already elected to outfit officers with cameras.

Larger cities such as Los Angeles, Houston, and Washington, D.C have started the implementation program last year, after the execution reviews from the said cities turned positive.

During their most recent sessions, state legislatures in Illinois, Texas and South Carolina reviewed a proposal over camera legislation, its impact on citizen’s privacy and the cost of purchasing the cameras and paying for storage.

After a clear cut review, the start-up program for implementing body worn cameras received a set back as the execution was straining the already overtaxing budgets of state and local police departments. Moreover, the law enforcement was facing another major challenge, which was to keep video data safe and secure and that too on an economical note.

It is a known fact that body worn cameras, along with increase of video surveillance systems, were creating massive amounts of data that agencies need to manage, store and secure. For example, the Seattle Police Department alone produced 360 terabytes of data from dashboard cameras. The police department in Duluth, Minnesota, was able to afford $5,000 to purchase cameras, but struggled with $78,000 data storage fees for just the first two years of operation.

Therefore, video storage issue is now discouraging the police departments to go for body worn camera implementation on full scale. Most of the departments are ready to purchase cameras, but they are worried on the data generated from these cameras and how the data needs to be stored. Also, the law enforcement forces are looking for clear guidelines to protect police-generated data in the cloud, if this storage option has to be looked into seriously. As cyber threats are on the rise, unwanted incursions from bad actors are posing as a great threat for adopting cloud storage.

Well, to understand the costs and risks of going with a body worn camera program, it is important to examine the total cost of ownership, before the program implementation. This includes financial estimate that accounts for the direct and indirect costs of a product or system. The correct way to determine TCO is to take into account for the acquisition and operational costs of body worn cameras, as well as the expenses associated with keeping the video data secure, which is proving costly in most cases.

As police departments look to cheaper, offsite cloud technology to store video data, calculating these costs is even more important. In this case, indirect costs cover potential expenses associated with incident response and liability charges if video data is breached.

Without proper protocol and standards, what may seem to be the less expensive cloud solution could cost much more in the long run.

Therefore, with the available options, what the police departments are looking out for are standards for storing content. FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services security Policy, which establishes guidelines for the creation, viewing, transmission and storage, has already formulated few guidelines to US law enforcement agencies in this case.

Vey recently, adhering with the guidelines, the International Association of Chief of Police issued guiding principles for cloud computing that recommend data collected through body-worn cameras to be stored at the highest level of security.

Though, the department has not recommended full usage of cloud computing for storage needs for law enforcement agencies, it wants the adopted technology to be minimum in risk and should keep video data safe.

While safe and secure data storage is not cheap, it’s an investment that law enforcement agencies must make. Only when police departments take the TCO into account will they protect their video data as well as minimize their liability and safeguard the people they serve.

May be a hybrid approach where a mix up of on-premises storage with cloud can work out economically and in align with FBI guidelines.

So, what’s your take on this issue? Please share your comments through the comments section below.

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