Body-worn cameras (BWC) have become a necessity in law enforcement agencies of the present day. Rise in several incidents has brought forward a greater need for better mechanisms to support the accountability of officers and assist in evidence collection.
In November 2018, a report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), based off metrics from 2016, over 47% of general-purpose law enforcement agencies had acquired body-worn cameras; a number that rose to 80% for large police departments.
These numbers have substantially increased over the years.
Besides enhancing evidence collection, body cams serve as a great tool to assist police officers. They also improve the chain of custody by recording footage of physical handling of evidence (or potential evidence items) at a crime scene.
Then Why Are Body Worn Cameras Not Incorporated Statewide?
The answer to the above question is that there is one major issue in digitizing police forces anywhere with body cameras - video storage.
With each device recording for entire shifts without delays or breaks, several terabytes of body camera video storage are required.
This blog talks about the challenges faced when working with body cameras when it comes to video storage as well as practical solutions for them.
Challenges faced by Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs)
1. Expenses When Working With Body Camera Video Storage
Incorporating body cameras calls for a big budget. Knowing a department may have hundreds or even thousands of officers on the field, to have the gear dispatched to each of them is definitely a challenge.
According to the official website of the City of New York, NYPD rolled out over 6000 body worn cameras during its body-worn camera program that started in April 2017 and spanned over the next two years.
Dispatching body cameras to officers isn’t the end of costs. With each officer that using bodycams, there will be several terabytes of video data incoming daily. Each officer’s shift will be recorded and saved. Hence, a tremendous amount of storage is required for each video file.
However, in a list compiled by the Government of the City of Fort Collins, Colorado, entailing facts on body worn cameras, a statement getting a foremost mention takes the spotlight.
Acknowledging the fact U.S. law enforcement spends approximately $2 billion in settlements each year to resolve claims, it has been observed that agencies using body worn cameras report a dramatic decrease in complaints and claims.
2. The Deployment for Body Cam Video Storage
The decision of picking a storage solution comes down to where is the storage deployed.
Is it on local storage mediums at your law enforcement headquarters, or have you opted for a cloud solution? Or it may be a hybrid storage model utilizing both.
There are numerous reasons to choose either, but we will get to it later.
3. Security Concerns With Body Cam Video Storage
With Video Evidence Lying in Disparate Systems - Securely Managing Access and Maintaining a Chain of Custody Could be a Daunting Task
Overcame the high storage costs? Chosen your medium to save your body cam footage? Great!
But is the medium secure?
Body camera video may carry critical information and must be kept out of unauthorized access at all costs. It may act as digital evidence for various criminal cases in many circumstances.
So, does your choice of video storage and management platform offer that level of security?
If it does not, we know for sure one that does – VIDIZMO.
Read more on what VIDIZMO has to offer for Evidence Security.
4. Compliance Regarding Body Camera Video Storage
Body camera video storage is a critical matter. Several compliance requirements surrounding data of this nature need to be implemented as part of the law.
Two of these are by the California Rules of Court and the Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Security Policy.
You would have to compliant with GDPR based off your region, and FedRAMP based off your industry and prospects.
With all these compliance needs being a necessity, the question being raised is whether your video storage platform meets these compliance standards?
5. Codec Issues Surrounding Body Camera Video Storage
With most body worn cameras utilizing proprietary codecs and containers, there is an issue of incompatibility.
Storing footage from these body cameras in their proprietary codecs results in playback issues, especially when shared with prosecutors, defense attorneys, the court, or other scenarios.
Therefore, the need to generalize all codecs and make them compatible with all video players is a necessity.
6. Search Within Body Cam Video Library
Several other issues play a role in storing body camera video files. These include proper meta-tagging of video files to make it easier to search and retrieve them later.
With several hours of footage coming from each officer daily, a manual video-to-video search is an impractical idea.
Not only should your body cam videos be more optimized for searches, but the search itself should have advanced features to provide better accessibility and accurate results.
7. Redaction In Body Cam Video
Concerning critical video footage such as those recorded off body cams and CCTVs, a compliance requirement is the redaction of sensitive information.
This information, which is often generally termed as PII (personally identifiable information), includes images of faces of individuals and license number plates. All this information being present in body camera video data calls for a PII redaction video software solution.
The standard process is to store video on a certain platform, which acts as a storage medium. Then, the video is exported to a platform with a redaction tool, gets processed, and then saved it back to storage.
As apparent, this process is both lengthy and time-consuming; something which turns out to cut down efficiency for law enforcers.
We need a platform that offers us video storage with a built-in video redaction software that makes the job easier and less time-consuming.
8. Transcription Using Audio In Body Cam Footage
Body cam video recordings often contain audio that is rather unclear and indecipherable. The circumstances in which they are recorded impact the quality of the audio.
However, body cam video recording transcriptions play a key role in several cases, and act as valuable data itself.
A good example is the missing people and murder case of Brian Laundrie and Gabby Petito from Utah in the later part of 2021.
The audio quality becomes a huge hurdle when the audio must be transcribed. The task becomes even more difficult when the audio carries multiple languages, jargon, unrecognizable terms, or other factors.
The transcription process can be made easier and more accurate, but the audio file needs to be passed through a few processes that require different tools.
Things would be much simpler if the entire task could be performed on a single platform.
9. Playback Issues With Body Cam Footage
Body-worn cameras make use of RTMP (Real-Time Messaging Protocol) and RTSP (Real-Time Streaming Protocol) encoding protocols in their video files.
However, this protocol is supported by a decreasing number of browsers as the days pass. This incompatibility makes the video not playable on most internet browsers.
The solution to this issue it to make a conversion to Apple’s HLS (HTTP Live Streaming) protocol. This is extremely necessary, as it makes the video file compatible with all existing browsers and video streaming players.
What Can Be Done To Solve These Problems?
We have already discussed the issues that law enforcement organizations face with the implementation and widescale use of body cameras. Most issues circle around the matter of video storage.
But what can be possible solutions for these problems? Let us investigate these.
Video is a medium of data known for excessive amounts of data consumption. With video qualities forever increasing, such as better resolutions thanks to camera technology with greater megapixels and HDTV, the demand for greater storage has followed.
Implementing body-worn cameras for police officers opens a gateway to a never-ending need for data storage.
So, what can be done to resolve this? What options of storage would be feasible to handle such a huge amount of data?
One of the ways to counteract this is to implement a local, on-premises storage system. However, this solution seems impractical for several agencies.
Adding additional storage media has its limitations. Moreover, there are several risks in terms of security and data loss.
Another option is to go for cloud storage. The storage is provided by a service provider located remotely and easily manages your storage needs.
This option is more feasible as it eliminates several negative factors when working with disparate, local storage systems.
Cloud storage also enhances accessibility. The video content is stored on the cloud can be remotely accessed by officers anywhere.
By utilizing cloud storage, we cut down the costs of locating evidence data on local storage and physically transporting video evidence from one location to the next.
A third solution is to go for a mix of both – a hybrid model. Local storage holds frequently accessed video content while the rest is stored on the cloud.
Data security is also one of the primary concerns when working with body camera video storage. The storage medium or service provider chosen must enforce measures to keep data secure.
Bodycam videos could hold crucial evidence and confidential data. Any form of cybersecurity attack could prove to be chaotic.
Accessibility is another element of concern. The ability to implement varying access to various files stored, with limitations as to who can view, download, and modify files, are some of the prerequisites that are necessary for a storage medium utilized for body camera video storage.
Implementing a storage medium that is encrypted with a standard, such as AES-256 (Advanced Encryption Standard, one of the strongest yet), is the ideal solution to ensure the security of your data at rest.
You also need to ensure that the videos stored on a storage medium are secure when in transit, during playback or retrieval. Therefore, the service must incorporate a secure video streaming platform with SSL/TLS encryption to protect video from “man-in-the-middle” attacks and similar threats.
There is also an issue of compatibility or playback for any video file with bodycam video storage.
The best solution at hand is to transcode it into a generalized codec with varying bitrate frequencies to allow them to be playable on all mediums and under all conditions.
Generalized codecs will be device and software agnostic, hence making it easier to stream evidence on the organization’s own systems, or those with the legal bodies it is shared with, such as courts.
Read more on what other practices should you consider with our 5 Tips On How To Present Video Evidence In Court
A Complete Solution – A Digital Evidence Management System
You could move your body-worn camera footage to the cloud, add security measures around it, build a system to log a chain of custody, transcode, redact or transcribe this footage. Or you could let the experts handle it.
A digital evidence management system (DEMS) could prove to be the ultimate solution surrounding all matters concerning body camera video storage and handling.
The platform could provide access to cloud storage, be it their own or through a partner’s integration, with added measures for security. Moreover, a system such as that would have built-in mechanisms to assist you in automatically transcoding and tagging video content.
A DEM system would not be limited to that, however. It will provide you with exactly what you need when it comes down to handling your stored video content.
It may be as simple as sorting video files into individual cases or comparatively complex applying AI (Artificial Intelligence) based services such as redaction and multilingual transcription on the videos.
Before you set off to search for the perfect DEMS solution, we would like to stop you right there. That is because the ideal DEMS solution is available right here – VIDIZMO.
VIDIZMO Digital Evidence Management System
VIDIZMO, a Gartner recognized solution provider for video content management, offers its state-of-the-art Digital Evidence Management System (DEMS). Recognized as a major player of the 2020 IDC MarketScape, VIDIZMO’s DEMS solution allows you to perform transcription on your videos and redact elements to protect personally identifiable information, to meet several compliance requirements and accessibility standards. The solution enables you to choose between government cloud service, on-premises storage, or hybrid infrastructure deployment options.
VIDIZMO Digital Evidence Management System provides you with:
- Bulk Ingestion: Bulk ingest digital evidence from any source such as Bodycams, Dashcams, and CCTV Cameras, enabling evidence collection and segregation through multiple, autonomous portals.
- Integration: VIDIZMO’s device agnosticism allows massive possibilities for integrations and ingestions. Integrate with your existing IT applications, such as CAD, RMS, and CMS systems. Integrate with SSO for authenticated access and interoperability and much more.
- Accessibility: The use of a web app makes evidence viewable and accessible through all devices.
- Secure Evidence Sharing: Leverage a broad range of controls for end-to-end evidence security and privacy. Ensure the highest level of protection for your digital evidence using a robust set of security features and functions.
- Artificial Intelligence: Make the use of AI to automate processes such as redaction, transcription, translation, analytics generation and more.
- Translate & Transcribe: Automatically transcribe audio and video evidence simultaneously in 4 languages, or one out of around 40 in a single iteration. Similarly, translations are available in over 50 languages.
- Integrity of Evidence: Verify the originality and integrity of your evidence files with the standard SHA-3 cryptographic hash function. This detects the presence of any tampering and alerts the system and individual that evidence is assigned to.
- Flexible Deployment: Deploy the solution as SaaS in Azure or AWS Cloud (Government or Commercial), in an on-premises data center or in a hybrid infrastructure.
- Meeting Compliance Policies: Meet compliance requirements, such as CJIS, FedRAMP, GDPR, HIPAA, ADA, DoD, CRoC, FOIA and more, through a wide variety of features as well as through project hosts and partners.
VIDIZMO DEMS’ set of diverse features are not limited to what we have mentioned above, however. There is a lot more that you can explore by paying a visit to our website or directly exploring the features of the Digital Evidence Management System.
If your organization wants to implement a DEMS solution with the flexibility to implement body worn camera technology, feel free to contact us or visit our site for more information on our products.
Or test out the product yourself with a free trial!