Should you store video evidence on the Cloud or Local Servers? This was a popular topic at IACP in 2012. Both have advantages, and both methods have their challenges. How an agency chooses to store their video is a critical part of this discussion, as it will always be intrinsically connected to how they record their video and the resulting file sizes.
Local server based storage is the most common method for video evidence storage. Having a well-designed and controlled network infrastructure within your building is typically the most secure way to ensure evidence management that is fast and reliable. In any server-based storage solution, you will want to ensure that you have redundancy with secure administrative control. Most in-car video manufacturers offer proprietary back office client software to allow for various levels of administrative access and review of evidence, in addition to exporting functionality for court.
Cloud based storage can be a good solution if you have a minimal amount of video evidence or if you have offsite personnel who needs to regularly access video. Storing on the cloud can provide redundancy at potentially lower costs and reduces the amount of physical hardware in your building. Typically, you can buy storage as needed with virtually unlimited capacity. Although the upfront cost may be less, agencies need to keep in mind the reoccurring cost/subscription of online storage.
Regardless of your chosen storage method, the most manageable approach for most agencies is to store critical or potentially court-bound events in High Definition and routine video evidence, such as a basic traffic stop, in standard definition. If this can be accomplished, it will allow for all of the benefits of HD without the large increased cost and management challenges for local or cloud based storage when everything is recorded in HD.
When considering a new HD system, be sure to ask up front for an analysis of potential storage requirements and cost based on your video evidence retention policy and the amount of video your agency records on a daily or monthly basis.