Subscriber Discussion

Traffic Surveillance In US - Enforcement Requirement At 30 FPS?

Is there a law enforcement requirement of video recording at 30 FPS for traffic surveiilance in the US. I got this request sometime ago & I was told that anything less than 30 FPS is not acceptable from the enforcement. Is this true? Let me know your comments.

The couple of government entities I dealt with for traffic surveillance didn't even record the video as it was just a FOIA nightmare waiting to happen. No recorded video, no FOIA.

That 30 FPS mandate is overstated. There may be certain industries (like casinos) that have governing standard requiring 30 FPS, but there are many examples of traffic 'redlight' cameras using less than 1 FPS to issue fines.

Thanks Jason and Brian. Is there government website that has the requirements defined for surveillance?

I don't think you will find a standard for FPS or other defined specifications as a matter of criminal law here in the US as you will find in the UK. While we have Fedreal law and obviously 50 different individual state codes, the basic premis regarding evidence when it comes to technology is have the courts accepted the general premis of said technology. In the case of cameras, digital storage and similar issues, this is is pretty much accepted by any court as long as you have a competent witness. Sometime both sides just stipulate to such matter unless it's a very serious case.

It it all cases it comes down to what the captured images shows and how it's interpeted by a court or the 12 jurists. In civil,cases the standards are even lower. So if you have even one frame of decent video, that image alone might be sufficient. Of course, the beter quality or motion of the video could make a difference but it's not a defined standard.

If there were any mention of possible video frame rates in relationship to traffic, check the site for the National Highway Traffice Safety website.

My colleague pointed me to this link of the specification from IACP (International Association of Chiefs of Police)

4.2.23 The Vehicular Recording System shall be capable of recording events uninterrupted for a minimum of three and a half (3.5) hours at a minimum image refresh rate of 30 frames per second (fps) per camera.

The IACP is not a regulatory body and it appeared there were only about 8 agencies listed in support of this document which is 8 out of tens of thousands of different agencies. Not discounting the potential benefit of 30 frames over 15 but this document is an opinion expressed by one organization in Law Enforcement. I am pretty sure I could write a general order draft stipulating all of our cameras are 5MP and above and must record at 60 FPS. This would be even better quality but in no way becomes a state or federal standard. Not trying to argue the point to hard but I thing the industry gets too wrapped up over what qualifies as evidence and what happens when you adopt standards such as this.

an example would be a submitted video of excellent quality but found to have a frame rate of only 28 frames per second and not 30. If that was the case then and a mandated state or federal code mandated 30 the video would not be allowed as evince. While the public has an assumption that American courts are full of loop holes and technicalities, this is just not the case. Courts are very reasonable about their decision making process and understand what constitutes best evidence.

And on the same note, what if the clip was only 20 minutes depicting the incident and not the full 3. 5 hours of required recording. A defense could argue that this did not meet standards and the evidence thrown out. Don't get confused oveHercules of eviden e and I distrusted best or recommended practices as they are usually not the same.