Body-worn cameras (BWC) are slowly becoming a necessity in law enforcement agencies of the present day. A sudden rise in several incidents has brought forward a greater need for better mechanisms to support the accountability of officers.
Also, being a tool for police forces to enhance their evidence collection, body cams serve as a great tool to assist police officers. They also prove to improve the chain of custody by recording footage of physical handling of evidence (or potential evidence items) at a crime scene.
So Why Don’t We Have Body Worn Cameras Incorporated In Law Enforcement Agencies 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 body cam recording for entire shifts without delays or breaks, several terabytes of body camera video storage is required.
This blog talks about the challenges faced when working with body cameras when it comes to video storage. We will discuss practical solutions to these challenges, and finally, we will introduce you to VIDIZMO, the ultimate solution for all forms of video content management.
Let us have a look at the major challenges faced by law enforcement agencies when working with body-worn camera technology.
Challenges faced by Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs)
1. Expenses When Working With Body Camera Video Storage
The major issue with body cam technology incorporation into a running law enforcement system is the budget it demands. The gear must be dispatched to every unit that works on the field. Each law enforcement department may consist of hundreds or even thousands of law enforcement officers and thus requires body cam gear to accommodate each.
But the costs do not simply end by giving each officer a body camera. With each officer that uses the bodycam, there will be several terabytes of video data incoming daily. Each officer’s shift will be recorded and needs to be saved. Hence, a tremendous amount of storage is required for each video file.
2. The Storage Medium for Body Cam Video
Let us consider that the issue surrounding a storage solution has been resolved. But what medium is your storage based off? Are you storing 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, with some advantages that favor one of these options, 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
Okay, so you have managed to overcome the high storage costs and have chosen your medium to save your body cam footage. But is the medium secure?
Body camera video is a form of data that may carry critical information and be kept out of unauthorized access at all costs. It may act as digital evidence for various criminal cases in many circumstances.
So, the question is, does your choice of video storage and management platform offer all that?
If it does not, we know for sure one that does – VIDIZMO. You may read more on what VIDIZMO has to offer by clicking here.
4. Compliance Regarding Body Camera Video Storage
As mentioned earlier, 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.
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
Video files exist with several different codecs. Each of the file extensions which are dedicated to audio and video files, namely .MP3, .MP4, .MPEG, .AVI, .WMV, .MOV, .FLV, .3GP and many others, have their own codecs and containers. The problem arises when we realize that some codecs are incompatible with several video players.
Body cameras each often make use of different codecs, sometimes proprietary codecs. When stored in their exact same codecs, the video files result in problems regarding playback when shared with prosecutors, defense attorneys, the court, or other scenarios.
Therefore, we need to generalize all codecs and make them compatible with all video players.
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.
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, such as faces of individuals and license number plates. The standard process is to store video on a certain platform, export it to a platform with a redaction tool, process it, and then save it back to storage. The process is lengthy and time-consuming.
We need a platform that offers us video storage with a built-in redaction mechanism that makes the job easier and less time-consuming.
8. Transcription Using Audio In Body Cam Footage
Bodycam video recordings often contain audio that is rather unclear and indecipherable. The circumstances in which they are recorded impact the quality of the audio. 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, making a conversion to Apple’s HLS (HTTP Live Streaming) protocol even more necessary, which is compatible with all existing browsers.
What Can Be Done To Solve These Problems?
Several measures can be taken to solve the issues that arise with the implementation and widescale use of body cameras, particularly surrounding the matter of video storage. 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.
One of the ways to counteract this is to implement a local storage system. However, this solution seems impractical for a law enforcement agency. 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.
A Complete Solution – VIDIZMO 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
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.