Goodbye Tapes; Hello Digital Storage

Many cameras today not only feed a central system, they have “edge storage” in the form of SD cards.

MULTIPLE CITIES—“The times they are a-changin’,” sang Bob Dylan many years ago―and when it comes to recording and managing police video, thank heavens they have! Gone are the low-resolution, hard-to-manage VCRs and VHS tapes of old; replaced by easy-to-control digital video recording systems that offer HD resolution and stunning capabilities.

Today’s IP-based surveillance cameras make it easy to network together multiple views and control/monitor them from a single position. In the same vein, the video being captured can be stored in one location as well. However, in a multi-camera network, doing so can pose technology and management issues that are solvable, but prevent equipment from executing recordings right out of the box.

Tech Electronics has a simple answer to this problem with a technology built into the camera called “edge storage.” The company uses Axis Communications’ IP cameras that are equipped with their own SD card readers/writers, or attached network storage devices (i.e. portable hard drives).

“Having recording right on the camera eliminates the need to immediately configure its feed into a central recording system,” said James Gross, Tech Electronics’ security sales system specialist. “As well, on-camera recording decentralizes your video storage; either providing an off-site redundant backup, or replacing centralized storage altogether.”

Today’s command and control centers are being built around large HD/4K displays, typically showing multiple HD video windows on a single screen. The multi-window content on these screens guide the command decisions made by those in charge during times of crisis. This is why recording what was on the screen in real-time is so critically important for accurate after-incident analysis.

MORE INFO Corbett Tech. Solutions:

DME Forensics:

DVR Examiner:

Epiphan Systems:

Intelligent Video Solutions:

Ocean Systems:


Tech Solutions:

Epiphan Systems has solved this problem by creating Pearl; an appliance that can stream and record multiple HD sources simultaneously at rates of 60 frames per second and resolutions up to 2,048 x 2,048pixels. In plain language, Pearl can both populate command center screens and accurately record what was shown for later review.

“Pearl can output video resolutions up to 4K,” said Steve Mills, an account executive with Corbett Technology Solutions, an Epiphan distributor and installer. “It comes with a front-panel touchscreen controller as well as the ability to be remotely controlled. The Pearl can encode its video output for RTMP and RTSP streaming, which allows you to distribute the video over Akamai, Livestream, Wowza and YouTube.”

Now more than ever, properly-executed video recordings of police interrogations are key to obtaining justified convictions, and protecting officers from wrongful accusations of misconduct. This is why many departments have opted for multi-camera shots using cameras close to the subject being questioned, and showing full-room views to show that the entire process was being captured.

When it comes to reliably recording and storing such interviews, simplicity is key. The system has to be designed to be extremely user-friendly, because police officers are not trained technicians. This is where Intelligent Video Solutions comes into the picture. IVS’s computer-based “Police Interview Room Recording Equipment Packaged Solution” uses the company’s Intelligent Stream Recorder hardware/software solution to record video events using IP cameras to secure PC hard drives.

Intelligent Video Solutions’ Police Interview Room Recording Equipment Package records interviews using IP cameras to secure PC hard drives.

Known as the PDS ISR solution, “this product allows officers to start recording by pushing a single button in the interview room,” said Kevin Marti, IVS’ president. (The PDS ISR can also be triggered by its host PC.) “You can watch the live video on any authorized PC, and tag recordings with the case number, officer name, and report number.”

The recorded video files can have time-based tags assigned to important subjects mentioned by the person being questioned for later review, and be converted into an audio-only file for transcription.

The days of storing police VHS tapes in a closet may be over, but the challenges of easy video evidence storage remain. The ideal is to have such evidence safely stored and easily retrievable by authorized personnel; when and where they need it.

The people at Taser―yes, the company that brought you the Taser stun gun―have created a password-protected, cloud-based solution to this problem called (Police can even use their smartphone cameras to gather evidence, when employed in tandem with the Evidence Mobile app.) In addition to conventional video cameras, can receive, store and provide access to video captured using Taser’s Axon body cameras, Axon Flex eyeglass-mounted cameras and Axon iOS/Andriod smartphone-connected cameras.

To ensure video security, the system encrypts transferring data using SSL RSA 2,048-bit key, 256- or 128-bit ciphers (depending on the client browser), and stores it using 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES-256) encryption. Taser’s security practices “align with the law enforcement CJIS security standards, and the infrastructure also meets FedRAMP, FISMA, SSAE16, ISAE3402 and ISO27001 standards,” according to the web site.

In the make-believe world of CSI and other TV cop shows, image resolution is never an issue. If a license plate on a video is blurry, the TV tech just pushes a button that magically boosts its resolution a thousand-fold. The obvious questions ― “If you had access to this ultra-high resolution all the time, why did you start with a blurry shot? Are you a fan of the French Impressionists?” ―are never asked by the attending TV detective in the scene. Then again, that’s television for you.

Ocean Systems dTective video analysis tool

In the real world, poor resolution issues are just part of the challenges that confront police working with recorded video evidence. To resolve such issues, police turn to products such as Ocean Systems’ dTective video analysis tool. Using dTective, police video specialists can forensically improve recorded video by enhancing dark areas on screen, using the product’s Super Resolution to process low frame rate security video (the type of video most often received by law enforcement); highlight, obscure or magnify specified sections of the video/image; adjust contrast and brightness; stabilize shaking video; and de-interlace video to provide clearer stills printed from video frames.

According to Ocean Systems, more than 1,800 dTective systems are currently being used by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies including the FBI, CIA and DEA; as well as other government and private security groups domestically and around the world.

There are all kinds of DVRs on the market today, each with its own way of being integrated into a system. For police departments running into a range of DVR makes/models, data retrieval can be a time-consuming hassle at the very best, and impossible at the worst when a DVR has failed, the password is unknown, or other common scenarios.

DME Forensics’ DVR Examiner at work recovering visual information on a hard drive.

Enter DVR Examiner. Created by DME Forensics, DVR Examiner offers law enforcement a one-stop-shop for DVR data detection, scanning and file export. This software works with physical disks of varying sizes, and can be used to extract data from a damaged DVR whose hard disk is still intact or any number of other circumstances that make extraction difficult or impossible.

According to DME Forensics, DVR Examiner supports more than 50 types of DVR formats in some capacity, allowing it to work with more than 250 different DVR makes and models. Due to the numerous unbranded “black box” DVR systems out there, the actual number of compatible DVRs is difficult to pinpoint, but is likely significantly higher.

The above are just some of the many video recording solutions available to police and other agencies that need to save, store, recall and process video from surveillance and evidence cameras. The range and flexibility of these digital solutions makes one fact very clear: There is no longer any reason to be using analog image capture and videotape formats by any police department, regardless of its size or budget.