Slowly but surely, cities around California are experimenting with body cameras on their police officers. Studies suggest that these have the potential to dramatically improve the relationship between the police and the community. It is a big decision, however; Los Angeles, for example, is weighing the hefty $57.6 million price tag for outfitting the LAPD over the next five years.1 Meanwhile, Sacramento’s mayor implored the chief of the SPD to consider body cameras to “restore the connectivity between our officers and the community.”2 That connectivity isn’t free, however. Beyond the $500-to-$1,000-per-unit cost3 of the cameras themselves, there are significant logistical issues to be worked out on the IT side of the equation: where to store the footage, how to organize it, how to keep it secure, and so on. In lieu of weighing down the police department’s IT team with several new headaches, it would be wiser (and cheaper!) to trust the right partner for storing data on a secure cloud.
Tight Budgets Get Further Strained with the Increase in Data
As you’ve surely realized, the police department’s IT demands have been consistently evolving and increasing in complexity. Over the years, this has included improving the police community’s knowledge of and access to new technology, integrating it into mobile units, improving how info is shared and used between officers and staff members, and ensuring that it’s all efficiently and safely connected on the back end.4 All of this contributes to generating more and more data, and it all needs to go somewhere. It also needs to be easily accessed—and safely stored. Wouldn’t it just be so convenient for everyone who’s been recently arrested if their digital evidence, like dash cam footage, disappeared before their trials? This could happen for malicious (hacking) or accidental (power outage) reasons. There will be even more data created once body cameras on police officers are implemented, and that much more reason to keep the new sources of evidence safe.
That extra evidence, in the form of stored footage, also comes at a cost. The cameras used by most police forces hold a day or two’s footage themselves, and then that gets uploaded back at the department for long-term storage. How much data needs to be stored and for how long will vary from police department to police department, but the costs can rise into the millions between the extra space, hardware, and dedicated personnel needed.5 In fact, part of the reason why Baltimore rejected a recent proposal for these systems was all of the extra staff needed to manage the data.
How Cloud Storage can Lighten the Load and Increase Data Security
Police departments are no different from any other sector, in cost savings being a big driver in decision making. It’s not about being cheap; it’s about “efficient resource allocation”–which just so happens to lead to cheap solutions, when done right. Think about all of the potential savings by switching to cloud computing. There will be no need to get extra servers for on-site hosting. You won’t need the extra staff to keep it running and maintained. You’ll be working with a company that likely has a big data storage infrastructure that makes storage cheaper gigabit-by-gigabit (economies of scale, as long as we’re throwing out business buzzwords). And then there’s the energy savings: each in-house server costs on average $731.94 a year to keep running, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Compare that to cloud storage, which costs mere cents per gigabyte per month.
These kinds of systems (cloud computing, that is) make it so much easier to organize and access data as well. Police departments need to maintain continuity more than almost any other group–everything needs to be able to be accessed, remotely, 24/7/365 in case of emergency. With a data cloud that doesn’t need to be maintained by your IT department or on-premise infrastructure, officers and police chiefs can access anything they need through an intuitive system customized to their needs–including out in the police cars. This remote server, with its 99.9% uptime and its anywhere/anytime access, also frees up your IT department to focus on keeping your hardware running without having to commit so much time and effort to server maintenance.
But, how can we make sure that the remote access doesn’t lead to the wrong people finding a way in? Many of the perceived security issues with cloud computing are people issues and not systematic issues: there are only so many talented professionals available to ensure your security. In that sense, not all clouds are created equally. Our staff is highly trained and committed to protecting the data of our clients. This works the same way with your own current IT department: it wouldn’t be nearly as secure as it is now if you cut corners on hiring talented individuals. Meanwhile, your department still plays a role with a cloud server in ensuring security: you’ll still be managing passwords, protecting against stolen devices, and working with us to stay ahead of potential threats.
Here at DiamondIT, we have a staff that is specifically honed to be masters of the cloud computing arts. We know and take pride in our craft; we also understand how important it is to free up your staff to stay focused on their jobs, rather than being distracted by IT headaches.
There are enough hard decisions in your day that it’s nice to have an easy one in front of you. Hosting body camera data and more on our cloud is cheaper, easier, and just as secure as doing it within your department. Reaching out to DiamondIT will make your transition to using body cams as smooth as can be.
- http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-lapd-body-cameras-20151217-story.html ↩
- http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/news-columns-blogs/city-beat/article4571230.html ↩
- http://www.sacbee.com/opinion/editorials/article4652007.html ↩
- https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/248594.pdf ↩
- https://www.policeone.com/police-products/body-cameras/articles/8243271-For-police-body-cameras-big-costs-loom-in-storage/ ↩