Police Top Surveillance Pain Point

By: Carlton Purvis, Published on Apr 28, 2013

We recently interviewed surveillance experts from the International Association of Chiefs of Police about various issues, uses, and best practices for police agencies regarding video surveillance. Interestingly, one point that the group frequently returned to was the difficulty of compiling and accessing video from different systems. Though we will recap the entire discussion in a future post, in this note we highlight what they said was their biggest problem when it comes to video surveillance.

Too Much Media, Too Many Codecs

When police show up to a crime scene and start looking for cameras that may have picked something up, they often rely on footage from third party systems. This means they often get lots of footage, in lots of different formats. Here is what they had to say:

“In harvesting the existing video a lot of law enforcement agencies face a challenge because as you all know, various systems use various means of recording. Some people, believe it or not, are still using VHS tapes. Some people are using hard drives. Some people are using one form or another of video media. Some people are using a system where they meld 15 or 20 cameras and they use some proprietary codec to record that. So as law enforcement rolls up to something ... like that in Boston, you have to be prepared to download video from any of hundreds of different forms. This is a big challenge.”

Manufacturer Pushback 

“It is astonishing the different codecs that have to be used to download proprietary video off of these security cam systems,” one said. Video forensic investigators spend a lot of their time just keeping current with codecs. But to add to the frustration, sometimes they get pushback from manufacturers when trying to get codecs to playback video. Often “having to convince manufacturers that [we] have a legitimate law enforcement interest in seeing the video" before they will provide the relevant codec. At least with VHS, one said, all you have to do is put it in a machine and play it.

Standardization

The experts we interviewed agreed there was a need to standardize recording formats to make it easier to collect and view video, but were skeptical of it ever happening. Having all cameras support all recorders may be the closest the industry gets, one said. However, even that is unlikely to solve the problem as video is almost always exported from the recorder, meaning that the barrier remains how video is exported from that device.

Public-Private Partnerships

Public-private partnerships are one way police are trying to tackle the issue, they said. These partnerships are an opportunity "to somewhat standardize the way that some of the imagery is gathered and recorded so that both the person at the business who collected it and the police department profit." However, this is unlikely to reduce the underlying technical issues but stronger relationships with private businesses may help police get assistance in accessing and watching the video they need.

Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News
Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News

Sharing Surveillance With the Police

For more on the process, see our tutorial, Sharing Surveillance With the Police.

Universal CCTV Players?

One attempt to solve this problem is the development of universal CCTV players. These are applications that 'understand' proprietary CODECs and packaging of different recorder manufacturers. There are not many of them and the few (or one) we have seen in the past were from the UK and focused on recorders commonly used there (but not in other parts of the world).

Unfortunately for the police, we do not see any straightforward technical or policy solutions that would feasibly address this. Anyone with suggestions, feel free to share in the comments.

Comments (22) : Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

2020 IP Networking Book Released on Jan 06, 2020
The new IP Networking Book 2020 is a 280 page in-depth guide that teaches you how IT and telecom technologies impact modern security systems,...
IPVM Opens 12,000 Sqft Testing Facility on Dec 16, 2019
IPVM is proud to announce the opening of the world's first video surveillance testing facility that will allow us to significantly expand our...
Covert Elevator Face Recognition on Oct 24, 2019
Covert elevator facial recognition has the potential to solve the cost and complexity of elevator surveillance while engendering immense privacy...
TMA Apologizes to Amazon / Ring on Aug 23, 2019
Not only is Amazon / Ring making major incursions into the residential security market, the organization representing the biggest incumbents, The...
Kidnapping Victim Rescued With Video From Ring Doorbell Camera on May 24, 2019
A kidnapping victim was rescued within 24 hours, with the police crediting video from a Ring Doorbell camera as key to solving the case. A girl was...
San Francisco Face Recognition Ban And Surveillance Regulation Details Examined on May 14, 2019
San Francisco passed the legislation 8-1 today. While the face recognition 'ban' has already received significant attention over the past few...
Verkada Wins $783,000 Memphis Deal on Apr 29, 2019
The US city, most famous in video surveillance for standardizing on Hikvision, has issued an RFQ for 962 Verkada cameras due Wednesday, May 1,...
Casino Security Consultant Carl Lindgren Interview on Mar 26, 2019
For more than 20 years, Carl Lindgren worked as a casino surveillance pro, while being active (and sometimes outspoken) on various online video...
IBM / Genetec Surveillance System Investigated Over Philippines Human Rights Abuses on Mar 22, 2019
A lengthy investigation into an IBM video surveillance project in the Philippines, raising concerns IBM helped local police conduct a bloody...
Large Hospital Security End User Interview on Mar 21, 2019
This large single-state healthcare system consists of many hospitals, and hundreds of health parks, private practices, urgent care facilities, and...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Athena CEO Criticizes 'Deplorable' 'Nitpicking', IPVM Refutes on Mar 27, 2020
Athena Security's CEO Lisa Falzone has strongly objected to IPVM's reporting on Athena, calling it 'deplorable' and repeatedly criticizing IPVM's...
Hikvision Admits Sanctions Harming Its Financial Performance on Mar 27, 2020
While Hikvision initially downplayed being sanctioned for human rights abuses, the company is now admitting a significant impact in a new PRC...
New Axis M30 Cameras Tested on Mar 26, 2020
Axis has released a new generation of, for them, relatively low cost M30 series cameras, claiming to deliver "sharp video quality even in poor...
Coronavirus Shuts Down ADT Door Knockers on Mar 26, 2020
Coronavirus has another victim - this time, alarm giant ADT has stopped all door to door sales. Door knockers are a critical but controversial...
Access Control Course Spring 2020 - Save $50 Last Day on Mar 26, 2020
Register Now - Spring 2020 Access Control Course. Today, March 26th is the last day to save $50. IPVM offers the most comprehensive access...
Convergint Coronavirus Cuts on Mar 25, 2020
One of the world's largest security integrators, Convergint, has made a major move to handle the impact of coronavirus, with cuts across the...
VSaaS 101 on Mar 25, 2020
Video Surveillance as a Service (VSaaS) is the common industry term for cloud video. But what does it mean? How does it all work? Inside this...
TVT / InVid Facial Recognition Tested on Mar 25, 2020
Facial recognition is frequently sold for thousands of dollars per channel but some China manufacturers are offering full facial recognition...
IPVM Launches On-Demand Courses on Mar 24, 2020
For nearly a decade, IPVM has been a leader in online live courses. Now, we have added on-demand versions for all courses. The same course...