The biggest hurdle for the Police Department's body-worn camera program is in the cloud - Technical.ly Philly

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Mar. 14, 2017 12:57 pm

The biggest hurdle for the Police Department’s body-worn camera program is in the cloud

At a City Council hearing, the city's police and tech leaders pointed to video storage costs as a limitation for a broader rollout of body cameras across the police force.

At City Council's hearing on body camera policies.

(Photo by Roberto Torres)

Though Philly has some work to do with the policies ruling body camera usage by officers of the Philadelphia Police Department (PPD), there’s another item in the to-do list: finding a way to store hours and hours of footage without breaking the bank.

At an open City Council hearing on body-worn cameras Monday, the legislative body heard statements from an array of experts on the subject, including a live-demo from PPD Capt. Mark Fisher:

Per estimates from PPD Commissioner Richard Ross, the yearly cost of the body-worn camera program on cloud storage alone is close to $2 million.

“The cost of the cameras are not what’s prohibitive, but rather the cloud storage,” said Michael Vidro, Director for Public Safety at OIT.

Warminster-based Signature Systems, the makers of a POS technology platform for restaurants, chimed in by way of its CTO John White, who gave testimony to say that the company is capable of offering its all-in-one technology for the program’s rollout. They would need to place a bid first, though.

One note on the hearing itself: although the hearing was public, only two citizens spoke their minds with regards to body camera use. Not for lack of opportunity from City Council, but because public attendance was minimal.

As for the policy side of the program, the Council heard from Upturn’s Harlan Yu, ACLU Pennsylvania’s Mary Catherine Roper and James “Chip” Coldren from the CNA Research Center. The experts agreed: the public needs to have a chance to have access to the policies and speak out on what’s lacking in transparency.

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Per Ross, the police force is fully open to that:

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