Is ‘Cloud’ the future?

The vast majority of video evidence is collected by investigators manually, physically moved back to the police station on USB sticks and DVDs and reviewed and processed (using Kinesense LE or manually) on a PC. In an ideal world, police would store and process CCTV video evidence on centralize cloud servers. The advantage of that approach would include centralising the IT infrastructure, better performance, easier tracking and secure sharing of the finished reports and ‘product’. Many forces have strategic management goals to move ‘to the cloud’, but a little recognised bottleneck is holding them back: Bandwidth

No UK police force has sufficient upload bandwidth to adopt cloud for all video investigation data.

This statement may surprise some people. Internet connection speeds have improved in recent years, and the Emergency Service Network (ESN) will provide more uniform coverage. However, neither is fast enough. The issue is that Upload speeds are usually considerably slower than Download, and sending video evidence from a police computer to the cloud is all about upload. For example, we recently ran a test on a typical police computer in the north of England. While the download speed was 5 Mbit/s, upload was a dismal 0.09 Mbit/s. A single DVD of video data would take 5 days to upload to a cloud server at that rate. Even at reasonably good (and, uncommon for police networks) upload speed 10Mbit/s the upload would take well over an hour – assuming no other investigator is sharing this bandwidth. Waiting an hour before you can even begin work reviewing your video is not practical for busy police officers.

Processing video onsite is still faster, easier and even cheaper, and this will remain the case for many years to come.

Will the ESN improve things?

A little. The Emergency Services Network is based on 4G LTE technology. It is expected to be live across the UK by 2020. Its primary function is to provide mobile voice and data connections for ‘blue light’ staff, but it could also provide a standard data connection if desired. Under ideal conditions, the system will provide 8Mbit/s upload speeds – meaning a single DVD worth of video evidence will take 1 hour 20 minutes to upload to a cloud server. An improvement, but not a solution for video analytics.

A Solution: Process Local and Upload ‘product’

Kinesense suggests a hybrid solution to the bandwidth issue. By using Kinesense LE locally, officers can process and review video locally without the upload wait time. Analytics can be used to enable investigators search and review only the events of potential interest. When the investigator identifies the key video clips needed to be shared with others in the organisation or with the CPS, these evidential reports can be uploaded to a force-controlled Digital Asset Management (DAM) system. The DAM can be on a local or regional on premise server, or on the cloud as desired. This ‘process local first’ approach is faster and more responsive than a purely cloud-based solution.

Working this way greatly cuts down on the volume of data that needs to be uploaded (by up to 95%) and, more importantly, upload happens after report generation. This means the workflow for the officer isn’t broken, they don’t need to wait for upload before they start reviewing the video. Once they click ‘upload’, they can leave and go to the next job.