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Policing the body-worn camera data deluge

How can police solve the data storage, security and analysis challenges?

Overview

The widespread adoption of body-worn cameras as standard issue for police officers is no longer a question of if, but when. Yet how can police departments address the challenges of managing, storing and analyzing such massive amounts of data?

What public safety organizations are quickly discovering is that the hard work of making a body-worn camera program successful has only just begun. The scope and size of footage from every officer, every shift, every beat, every day, creates an almost unfathomable amount of data to be managed and stored. Combine this with footage from closed circuit television (CCTV), in-car cameras and private sources, and many police organizations are quickly reaching the limits of their on-site data management capabilities.

There are also additional challenges—from governing policies and usage procedures to privacy, training and technology. But considering scale and cost, data storage, as well as managing and protecting this sensitive data, top the list. All this video information has tremendous potential to enhance policing efforts, but how can police agencies avoid data overload? Forward-looking police departments are turning to cloud computing.

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“To prepare for the next generation of public safety threats, law enforcement agencies must evolve their digital capabilities.”

BACKGROUND

Cloud computing is not just a storage solution. In addition to solving the data management challenges plaguing many police organizations, cloud technology can also dramatically improve the way that law enforcement agencies share, analyze and leverage data, optimizing information flow and empowering officers to more efficiently manage multiple aspects of police operations and investigations.

Unfortunately, the majority of law enforcement agencies currently rely on outdated, disparate data management systems, keeping information in silos and officers in the dark. So why the reluctance to embrace the cloud?

Data security is the primary concern. This is understandable, considering the sensitivity of case data and other public safety information. But cloud computing solutions can equip IT with better controls to manage and monitor permissions, access, use and data administration, while also providing the highest-level of protection from security threats.

While both private and public cloud offer clients many of the same advantages, there are some key differences police departments should consider before moving forward with a particular solution.

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“According to an International Association of Chiefs of Police survey, only 16 percent of law enforcement agencies currently leverage the cloud.”

KEY FINDINGS

By facilitating dynamic provisioning of IT capabilities, hardware, software or services over a network, the cloud offers increased efficiency, flexibility, scalability and the opportunity to reduce cost.

The two most common forms being used to store body-worn camera data today are the public cloud and the private cloud. A key difference between the two options is the physical location of technology infrastructure and the control and management of the network, applications and security.

  • Public Cloud: With public cloud, data is hosted and processed off-premises by a third-party provider, which controls and maintains the infrastructure, as well as applications and data security, serving multiple organizations as a shared-service. Organizations pay a fee for licensing applications and storage, purchasing the bandwidth they need for scalable, pay-as-you-go flexibility.

  • Private cloud: The private cloud is a proprietary data platform delivered through cloud infrastructure and dedicated to a single organization. Unlike public cloud, private cloud is implemented within an enterprise firewall and managed on-premise. Organizations retain control of data management, technology infrastructure and upgrade investments to meet specific service requirements, as well as the security, compliance and monitoring of data.

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“Some early adopters are already feeling the financial, security and operational benefits of cloud computing technology.”

Analysis

Innovators in the cloud computing space are working to develop cloud solutions that fit the specific security and regulatory requirements of law enforcement agencies. These tools, plus a better understanding of how the cloud can support policing, should help ease the transition away from in-house data management and increase cloud adoption.

Recommendation

Data management is key to fighting crime in the digital age, and cloud computing technology provides the framework for success. By harnessing the cloud, law enforcement agencies will have a flexible data platform where security, compliance and performance can all be configured to meet specific service requirements and more easily upgraded to keep pace in the future.

Moving to cloud-based data management solutions can help police agencies manage and store large volumes of sensitive data with more control, better security and greater flexibility to enhance crime-fighting capabilities—this can only be a good thing for the future.



Author

Jody Weis

Jody Weis

Director, Public Safety – North America, Accenture
(former Superintendent, Chicago Police Department)

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