Technology enables law enforcement of the future

Technology enables law enforcement of the future

Morne Bekker, South African country manager and district manager for the SADC region at NetApp.

Ranging from on-body police cameras to 24/7 monitoring of major transportation hubs, video has undoubtedly become a strategic source of information, insights, and intelligence in combatting not only crime, but recording instances which would otherwise become a case of conflicting reports.

It appears that major cities throughout the world are mounting video surveillance cameras to monitor and control streets, subways, mass transit, parks, and other public places. These new intelligent video surveillance cameras and analytical applications are capturing more evidence than ever, causing an increase in bandwidth requirements, write speeds, and storage capacities. On the contrary, this worldwide massive surveillance adoption have in turn resulted in a demand for enterprise-class, easy-to-use, and highly integrated video management solutions.

Particularly we have seen an increase in this form of technology playing a role in the utilisation and strategic implementation of law enforcement, with specific legislation in various countries determining that police officers are required to wear such technology, not only for their own safety and evidence collection, but the safety of others.

Moreover, these body-worn cameras have resulted in more surprising consequences for law enforcement. In addition to keeping criminals at bay, the body-worn camera has been proven to reduce police brutality, a topic of hot discussion in nations such as the United States and the United Kingdom. A recent study conducted by The University of Cambridge involving 2,000 officers across UK and US showed that the introduction of wearable cameras led to a 93% drop in complaints made against police by the public. This suggests an increased sense of accountability, with the evidence at their fingertips, as well as the officials that monitor the data received from these devices.

But as the wearable camera and other means to capture a crime in real time gains momentum, so the data captured through these technologies increases.

The data dilemma

The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) has observed that body-worn cameras can not only improve officer safety, but also provide documentation of traffic violations and understanding of citizen behaviour. Video verification can also help reduce frivolous lawsuits and ensure successful prosecution. Despite these exciting innovations, one thing still stands in the way. A means to collate, centralise and access all data so that criminals can be identified quickly and proactively before any further damage is done.

Today’s infrastructure fails to achieve many of the data management, data security, as well as cost-saving efficiencies that the police department could realise through a smarter IT system underpinned by cloud technology.

In a country such as South Africa these issues are even more far reaching. Criminal data is usually captured on countless hard copies or on a myriad of fragmented systems. This results in lost evidence, increased crime and many unsolved cases. With South Africa’s recently released national crime statistics for 2017 showing a sharp increase in murder, attempted murder, robbery, and assault, there is no denying that the crime prevention framework urgently needs to be enhanced and adjusted.

Hybrid cloud as the data median

A solution to the data conundrum could be hybrid cloud. Such a solution, driven by flash-technology, allows all data to be managed with control, flexibility and speed, with the added economics of a public cloud solution. This is because hybrid cloud combines the power of public and private cloud infrastructure. In other words, the police can use this technology to share both public as well as highly confidential files using the cloud of their choice. Jurisdictions can, therefore, meet both data sovereignty and compliance requirements because they are aware of the whereabouts of all criminal data at all times.

In addition to its ability to integrate public cloud resources without the risk of confidential file exposure, hybrid cloud also provides a future-ready infrastructure to handle new video capabilities as they become available.

NetApp E-Series Video Surveillance Storage Solutions, combined with leading video management software, provides superior benefits to meet the new security surveillance challenges of data retrieval, retention, and capture. In one such instance, the product has been implemented in the City of Rochester New York, and has allowed for city employees and law enforcement – who depend on email and virtual desktops – to communicate and access information more efficiently in order to perform their jobs. Moreover, by moving Microsoft Exchange to NetApp All-Flash FAS and using NetApp E-Series for data-intensive video archiving, the city is improving productivity, efficiency, and public safety.

This implementation, according to City of Rochester Systems Engineers, has driven productivity citywide by increasing Microsoft Exchange performance 30x. Further, it has enabled the city to deploy more surveillance cameras, helping to deter crime and enhance public safety, in addition to providing police officers faster access to actionable information, helping them to be safer and more effective. Lastly, the solution provides outside agencies with quick and secure access to city resources using virtual desktops.

By Morne Bekker, South African country manager and district manager for the SADC region at NetApp

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