Should I record everything in HD?

The greatest factor to consider is the file size of High Definition video. For most agencies, storing all recordings in HD will be impractical for two reasons.

First, as described in What makes video HD?, typical 720p HD video has a 2x to 3x larger file size than SD video, and 1080p HD video is 5x or greater than SD video. The translation is simple: 2x to 5x the server storage space will be required. For most agencies it would become financially challenging to keep up with the needed infrastructure to retain this large amount of video.

Secondly, retrieving and reviewing evidence, along with making copies, will be slower as this is often accomplished by client software on a remote computer pulling  the requested video from servers onto the local computer. Even over a fast network, downloading these large files can take time, and some software applications require the entire file to be downloaded before it can be played.

When talking about the possibility of storing everything in HD, an agency needs to critically think through how much of their video actually goes to court or is presented outside the agency and used for any purpose at all. It is typical at most agencies that only 5% to 10% of the video recorded in the police car is ever used for this purpose and kept for a long retention period. The remaining video is often stored for a much shorter retention time and then deleted. With this in mind, although HD video provides significant advantages over SD video it may not be practical to record everything in HD since the majority of video is not used, or needed, beyond the initial recording in the vehicle.

The key for any agency is finding a system that offers the features they need with manageable video files that don’t put undue burden on server storage and IT related requirements. Agencies should push the envelope of technology advancements and look for a solution that allows them to maximize the video quality of critical court bound video without causing them to pay the penalty of recording everything in HD. 

What makes video HD?

How should I store my evidence?