Why are police managing digital evidence on the cloud? Which is better on-premise or on the cloud?

Police are rapidly adopting digital evidence and asset management (DEAM) solutions worldwide in order to deal with growing digital data and in an effort to manage and protect evidence securely.

What is a DEAM?

A DEAM solution enables you to store, retrieve and share all your assets and evidence exhibits from one location. With the Kinesense DEAM solution, users can import assets including video and media, add a reference to a case and share with colleagues and prosecutors alike. Users can log on to the system to search for assets using key metadata tags. Users can review assets, upload and bookmark key sections and assign tasks, or request feedback from colleagues. The solution logs user access and enables assets & evidence to be shared on a restricted or open basis. The cost benefits include eliminating the physical transfer of data (stopping all the driving around of disks), saving on storage media such as encrypted disks and USBs, and reducing storage costs.

What are the infrastructure deployment options?

Typically, a DEAM solution can be hosted in a number of ways in your organisation including on-premise and Cloud-based. Cloud computing differs from on-premises software in one critical way. A company hosts everything in-house in an on-premises environment, while in a cloud environment, a third-party provider hosts all that for you. In an on-premises environment, resources are deployed in-house and within an enterprise’s IT infrastructure. An enterprise is responsible for maintaining the solution and all its related processes – including physical facilities with temperature control and the network that is needed to go along with it.

What are the main advantages of cloud computing?

Deploying a VPC (Virtual Private Cloud allows you to launch resources in a virtual network that is defined by you, the client) within a public cloud is increasing in popularity and offers a number of advantages to businesses, organisations, and individuals, some of which are listed below:

1. Scalability
Cloud computing solutions are highly scalable. Organisations can select the features that best cater to their requirements and use them in the most effective manner. Based on their changing needs, users can scale in or scale out their infrastructures as required within seconds. There is no need to go out and buy more servers to add to a privately hosted infrastructure nor employ more people to support it.

2. Flexibility
Public clouds provide a high level of flexibility. Their services can be quickly and easily accessed from any location. Similarly, private clouds can also be easily accessed from multiple outlets with the organisation, making them highly flexible. You only pay for what you use so you have price and cost flexibility to suit demand.

3. Cost-effective
When using public cloud computing, easily accessing your organisation’s data saves you time and money. Most of the cloud service providers have adopted pay-as-you-go models so that users don’t end up paying more for the features they don’t require or haven’t used. The pay-as-you-go model also allows organisations and individuals to save on data storage space so that users get as much space as they need and don’t get charged for additional space that they don’t need.

So how much does Cloud deployment cost?

As can be seen from the Kinesense paper “Kinesense_ROI-Whitepaper”, there are typically 10x return on investment from deploying a DEAM solution. This section just looks at the difference between on-premises and cloud infrastructure deployment costs. Apart from the cost of the software solution you are deploying, there is a cost to ‘host’ or store and process your data with the hosting provider (AWS, Azure etc). These costs are typically charged on a subscription or opex business model i.e you pay as you use. Moving from a capex to opex business model, is more and more common in the criminal justice market and is now recognised as being more flexible and less expensive in the long run.

The costs of maintaining an on-premise data center or private cloud are rising just as the volume of data is growing every year. There are many hidden costs of a data center: storage servers, floor space, cooling and electricity costs as well as the people to run the physical plant. And none of that is to mention the cost of transporting data physically from one place to another, sharing it for analysis, and distributing it to stakeholders. With data growing exponentially, it is difficult to predict the costs needed going forward. Cloud costs invert the narrative. By using a pay-as-you-go model, forces are able to reduce the initial costs and keep down long-term costs as there is no physical plant to service. By orchestrating services in the cloud, forces can customise workflows and adapt to changes in need. There is also the ability to take advantage of advanced workflows like collaboration services which help to DEAMocratise workflows and make it easier to do more without having to increase the number of highly skilled engineers.

The graph below shows the difference in infrastructure costs between deploying On-premises and as an AWS VPN. This calculation is based on a regional deployment of 10,000 users, 1,000 concurrent users, for 12 hours per day, having 50TB of archive migrated to the platform, 40TB of the content generated and added incrementally per annum. 3 As the graph highlights the cost of developing an On-premises solution would be in the region of £920,000 (excluding staff costs) which of course would be an upfront cost. Whereas deploying on a cloud VPN infrastructure would be roughly half the cost over five years at circa. £480,000.

On-premises costs:
● Datacenter infrastructure (building, network, electrical infrastructure etc) £220,000
● Equipment (reuters, switches, etc) £200,000
● Servers £500,000
Total: £920,000