Oakland police send body camera video to the cloud

Wed, 2015-03-04 06:00 -- SCC Staff

While there are other issues surrounding the body camera technology that have made many police officials reluctant to use it, security is one of the primary concerns. How can the terabytes of sensitive information contained in the videos be safely stored?

There’s another closely related issue police departments also contend with. Most cloud platforms fail to meet the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) standards required for access to its data, according to GovTech.com.

To solve that problem, Council Lead Partner Microsoft and body video camera manufacturer VIEVU worked together to develop one of the first CJIS-capable versions of the VERIPATROL platform for the Microsoft Azure Government Cloud. As former VIEVU CEO Steve Lovell put it, “Many police departments have told us they have been unable to explore the benefits of the cloud due to concerns with CJIS security policies. Because VIEVU is CJIS-capable, police departments will be able to use the cloud to view, modify and share video data with a convenient, on-demand solution that is capable of meeting regulatory requirements.”

Oakland police optimistic
About 600 Oakland police officers wear body video cameras, the largest number in use by a law enforcement agency in the world, Oakland Police Officer Dave Burke said in the article.

The department had been storing video on its own system for five years, but the massive quantity of data was swamping it as the number of cameras in use grew. As a result, the department decided to test the CJIS-capable version of VERIPATROL.

"It will give us unlimited room to store video. It’ll also give us the redundancy, security and everything else that we’re looking for." He added, "I download my camera and it goes to the server just as it would with our existing system. It’s actually quite seamless."

The Microsoft-VIEVU solution also comes with additional capabilities, such as digital signature authentication in the event the video is involved in a court case. Burke said it also provides faster and better options for managing and organizing the video data, analyzing it for trends and other benefits.

Flexible design
The Azure Government Cloud has a flexible design so agencies can utilize hybrid solutions that store sensitive data in an on-premises datacenter and less sensitive information in the cloud. Agencies can scale services as needs change, all without having to sacrifice compliance with regulatory obligations.

"With the VIEVU solution, law enforcement agencies across the country can now deploy body-worn cameras with more secure cloud storage backed by Microsoft's CJIS-capable Azure Government cloud platform," said Richard Zak, Director of Justice & Public Safety Solutions, Microsoft.

More departments are eyeing cameras
As a result of controversial and highly publicized police shootings – and President Obama’s request to Congress in December for funding to buy 50,000 body cameras for police – several police departments are gradually overcoming their reluctance to test the technology.

According to VEIVU, Oakland Police Department recently reviewed its program and found a 73.8% decrease in use-of-force incidents. The number of incidents dropped from 2,186 in 2009 to 1,945 in 2010, when just under 200 officers began to wear body cameras, and dropped further to 572 incidents in 2014 with 619 officers wearing cameras. In addition to the decrease in use of force, VEICU says the department has gone 18 months without an officer-involved shooting, which used to average about eight incidents per year.

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