An unexpected problem for police body cameras: not enough storage

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They've only just begun their data plan, but the Birmingham Police Department are already worried they're going to go over their limit.

I'm not talking about their mobile phone data service, but rather the storage capacity for more than 300 police body cameras.

Computer World reports the town used up 1.5 terabytes of its allotted five terabytes of digital storage in just two months.


A terabyte is about 1,000 gigabytes, meaning the department's video could be stored across 12 iPhones at the top storage option. Five terabytes just isn't going to cut it, especially since many of the videos need to be stored indefinitely, as evidence or in case of a lawsuit against the department.

The video hosting service relied on by Birmingham and many other cities is body camera manufacturer TASER's, whose site pitch makes it sound like a therapy service for hoarders ("Your digital evidence is everywhere and piling up fast"). TASER does offer an unlimited data storage option, but Computer World quotes Capt. William Brewer of the Birmingham Police Department's Technology Division as saying that would cost "well above $1 million."

Birmingham should serve as an early warning as police departments across America scramble to equip their officers with cameras. The devices have already proven useful in reducing citizen complaints and use of force by officers, but they do come with their own I.T. challenges. Buying the actual cameras themselves is just the beginning.

We'll probably hear more on this after an inevitable lawsuit stemming from a police department deleting body camera footage to make room in their cloud storage.


Hopefully it's to free up space for evidence, and not to store a torrent of Game of Thrones, Season 6.