Body-worn cameras for law enforcement: A really big deal and really, really Big Data
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Body cameras for law enforcement: A really big deal and really, really Big Data
With as much as $75 million potentially available from the Department of Justice in matching grants in the future and Philadelphia considering the possible acquisition of 3,500 units, there is a lot riding on the results of these pilot projects.
Such initiatives bring new meaning to Big Data. If the use of body cameras become widespread, the amount of video recorded by departments around the country will be astronomical. As reported in IWCE’s Urgent Communications, there are civil-liberties and freedom-of-information (sunshine) laws in some states that might present real problems.
Meanwhile, from a technical perspective, how would so much data be collected, handled, time-stamped, stored (or destroyed) and recovered? True, basic policies, methodologies, and technologies exist today for handling in-car video; but the scale with body cameras changes everything. In many departments in-car video is collected only when responding to an emergency. Will that be the case with body cameras? And, even if only limited images are collected, there will be significantly more officers collecting video for longer periods of time, which promises to add significantly to the storage issue.
From a policy perspective, there will be those with Orwellian concerns. With the deployment of broadband and FirstNet, it will not be long before the suggestion is made that video and audio be made available for live streaming. The United Kingdom, perhaps the undisputed realm of video surveillance, continues to struggle with defining the proper use of so much data. In October, the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office warned companies that the haphazard use of surveillance equipment could be breaching the U.K.’s Data Protection Act 2008 “if they are just being used to record innocent members of the public without good reason.”
It promises to be an ongoing debate for the forseeable future. With this in mind, I have teamed with IWCE’s Urgent Communications to conduct a survey about the technical issues associated with body cameras. We are asking our audience—particularly those of you who are public-safety professionals or serve as administrators to first responders—to share your thoughts about the hot topic by participating in this survey.
The goal is to collect information to help us all better understand the current opinions and trends regarding this timely topic. Assuming we receive a sufficient number of responses, the findings will be made available at IWCE 2015 this March in Las Vegas and in a follow-up article to be published on the IWCE’s Urgent Communications website.
In addition to responding to the survey, if you would like us to contact you directly to talk more about your opinions in greater detail or, if you have questions regarding body cameras that you think need to be addressed, just let us know. We will set up a call to discuss.
Edmond ‘Ed’ Vea is a consultant to government and industry, focusing on mission-critical networks. Vea has more than 20 years experience designing, building, testing, optimizing and operating wireless communications systems using technologies such as GSM, CDMA, P25, TETRA, 802.11, 802,16, 2G, 3G, and 4G LTE.