The Seattle Police Department is having difficulty getting its officer-mounted camera project up and running. City leaders say they won't move forward until they find an affordable and reliable place to store the videos. Which is why it's so strange that they haven't looked to the big online retailer next door, Amazon.
The city is currently testing out a camera from Belltown-based VieVu. But the pilot program is on hiatus because the idea of a department-wide all-access record button raised some eyebrows and prompted questions about the logistics and cost of saving all that data.
Amazon's cloud data service uses remote servers where police departments across the country can upload their videos through the site Evidence.com. The service is offered through VieVu's competitor Taser, the company generally known for supplying police departments with alternatives to firearms (as well as shocking videos).
It's not entirely clear how much it would cost the city to store its data with Amazon. But what we do know is that Taser has recently expanded into the body-cam biz and, most importantly, offers a year of free service.
Back in the fall Curtis Cartier looked into the differences between the two companies and their costs. He said the city priced out VieVu's data storage at $42,000 for "a massive server to be installed and maintained, likely on police property," and run by the department. Taser on the other hand is offering the city support and data security from a Seattle-based tech super-giant, for free no less. Cartier said that even VieVu's spokesperson (a former SPD officer) intimated that shopping around would be in SPD's best interest.
Given the controversy surrounding the department's deplorable track record of keeping other kinds of video, those in charge might want to listen.
As the video above shows, KOMO-TV is suing the department after discovering 45,000 patrol car dash-cam videos vanished. The department blamed catastrophic system failures for the loss and later recovered a portion of the "misplaced" videos, yet 15,000 are still missing and any future forays into digital video by the department will face serious public scrutiny.
VieVu is already in the pilot phase, so money has already been spent. But the Amazon/Taser option is certainly worth a look. After all, nothing helps in a recession like shopping local.