Remember when you got your first smartphone? It was amazing to be able to listen to music, take photos, send e-mails, surf the Internet, and make calls all from a single device. Then a bucket of cold water arrived in the mail: your monthly data bill. Those exciting new features you now had at your fingertips came at a premium price. Very quickly you learned that using data unwisely can cost you a lot of money.
Today, police departments across the country are facing similar sticker shock from the adoption of advanced surveillance cameras. More accurately, they are drowning in data storage expenses associated with their modern cameras and surveillance systems. On-body cameras alone can produce as much as 18 gigabytes of video data per officer per shift, or one terabyte annually. That doesn’t factor in additional storage for surveillance footage from cameras placed at sally ports, interrogation rooms, correctional facilities, holding cells, and other environments.
For the uninitiated, the economics of storing video surveillance data can be harsh, especially considering that some cloud storage options can charge as much as $1,500 annually per terabyte of video data, and disk-only storage can cost roughly $2,500 per terabyte.
Some police departments are even resorting to creative cost-cutting measures to cope with the financial strain that storing video data poses. For example, the Clearfield Police Department in Utah recently had to begin storing video on DVDs because it ran out of available storage space. In Kansas, the Wichita Police Department had proposed selling one of its helicopters used to search for suspects in order to pay for its body-worn camera program and accompanying infrastructure costs.
Cost, however, is not everything. In my conversations with law enforcement at events such as the recent Police Security Expo in Atlantic City, cost is definitely a top concern, but management challenges are not far behind. Departments are grappling with the numerous considerations associated with upgrading and configuring their storage infrastructure in order to realize the heightened performance, compatibility, accessibility and flexibility requirements of modern surveillance programs. To help simplify the decision making process and avoid huge storage expenses down the line, below are five questions to ask when evaluating a storage system for your department’s video surveillance program:
- Is the storage system diversified?
- Is it accessible?
- Can it meet performance needs?
- Is it flexible?
- Is it compatible?
For the full version and descriptions for each question, visit Law and Order, The Magazine for Police Management