As video surveillance by law enforcement agencies continues to rise, there are undoubtedly a number of benefits to society recognized both by the agencies and civil rights activists, including more accurate evidence (leading to more successful criminal prosecutions and better officer training). While the actual cost of the video recording devices is affordable ($300 to $1K per device), the need for massive amounts of long-term storage that can meet the regulations for both privacy and evidence are of far more concern.
Just how large are these videos? Most police cars are at SD (1 GB/hour) and it is common to have 3 or more cameras per vehicle. Body cameras at 720 HD resolution consume about 2.5 GB/hour of storage, 150% more than SD. Any of these cameras upped to 1080 HD resolution consume about 5 GB/hour, 400% more than SD. Let’s put that in perspective. If you currently have 3 cameras shooting SD resolution in a vehicle and you add just 1 HD body camera at 1080 HD, you increase your storage needs by 166%!
This leads to the question, “are higher resolutions and all those cameras needed?” The short answer is yes. Every new iPhone and Android on the market now films at 1080. The public and all governing agencies are used to seeing video at that resolution. Chances are, if law enforcement isn’t filming at 1080, someone else is, and in today’s litigious society, it is best to have the highest quality evidence to provide the best protection and training. One other thing to consider is what resolution of video is next. To answer that, just walk into your local electronics store and check out the 4K TVs. 4K video at its most compressed state is 45 GB/hour! That’s almost 10X 1080 HD and 45X current SD storage needs, and 5K and 6K are right around the corner.
Phil Holland (@phfx) created this wonderful size comparison chart.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. Once you have videos stored you need to protect them, offer secure access and ensure they haven’t been tampered with. The good news is that you have some excellent choices for storing video, including a mixture of on-premise storage enabled by object storage on commodity servers and using a fully managed cloud solution. Each have pros and cons that you need to research. You can start by reading how the City of Austin solved their video storage challenges with object storage on commodity hardware here. We would also be happy to hop on a quick call to see if the solution used by Austin PD will work for you. Just contact us and one of our storage experts will get back to you.