So Much Data, So Little Time

By Andrew Elvish

As part of a company with global operations, I have had the opportunity to see and support a wide variety of organizations as they grapple with security challenges on a large scale. One of the persistent challenges we’re facing in the 21st century is how to manage and make use of the ever-increasing amount of data being collected and stored within our security systems.

Lately, a lot of my time has been spent with our European team out of our Paris office, getting ready for the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Developed to protect individual privacy, the GDPR sets out a series of specific regulations as well as strict fines for non-compliance for organizations that collect and process personally identifiable information (PII) from EU citizens.

The intention of the GDPR is to get organizations to consider how they manage and protect the data they are collecting and to implement solutions that help harden their systems and increase the safety and efficiency of accessing and sharing information. Many of the challenges these organizations are facing are relevant to other sectors as well.

Law enforcement, for example, is accumulating unprecedented amounts of data that has the potential to provide invaluable information in crime prevention as well as for the investigation and prosecution of criminal activities. The first step to unlocking this potential is managing that data as effectively as possible. A key solution here is a digital evidence management system (DEMS).

What is a DEMS?
A DEMS helps manage both the storage and distribution of digital evidence from a variety of sources. With a DEMS, organizations can eliminate many of the manual tasks that otherwise eat up a lot of time and reduce both the cost and risk associated with sharing digital evidence. At the same time, it increases the security of their data.

Get rid of your USB/DVDs and get into the cloud
One of the first benefits that an organization sees when deploying a DEMS is the impact it has on operations. It helps organizations manage their video storage and improves operational efficiency by eliminating repetitive tasks and streamlining the processes related to searching, redacting, and sharing video.

This moves them away from the old USB/DVD-based approach. There are still a lot of people who think that putting footage on a tiny portable device is easier than putting it in the cloud, but this could not be farther from the truth. This traditional workflow is extremely time-consuming and can jeopardize legal or police investigations as well as individual privacy because it makes the video more vulnerable to tampering, easier to lose, and more difficult to retrieve.

Just consider a retailer or business sharing digital evidence with the police or responding to a public record request. Under the old approach, someone would have to search through hours of video footage, redact it to conceal the identity of bystanders, put it onto a USB or DVD, and then ship it. We can’t forget that, once the footage is taken out of the system, there is no sure way of knowing who has it or what has been done with it.

Some of the costs associated with all this labor are concealed in time-spent by employees while others, like the cost of shipping footage by courier, can quickly eat up your budget. As organizations collect an ever-increasing amount of data, these tasks run the risk of being prohibitively expensive and time-consuming. And, when you add the potential risks associated with violating individual privacy, you can see why the traditional approach is no longer viable.

If the same retailer or business were to use a cloud-based DEMS, however, it would be much easier for them to collaborate within their organization or with outside stakeholders. Using a DEMS protects individual privacy and reduces the costs associated with sharing video footage. In particular, searching, redacting, and sharing video are far less time-consuming, especially when using a DEMS that automates part of these processes. And, it also establishes a reliable and auditable chain of custody.

Use your data to help close cases
A DEMS also helps law enforcement and other organizations streamline the process of accessing and retrieving data. I cannot overstate the impact this can have.

Retrieving the information required to investigate and solve cases can use up an incredible amount of time as security personnel search through hours and hours of video footage. Because a DEMS gathers more data, including evidence geolocation, upload date, incident type, and recording start and end times, it makes it easier for organizations to search through video and accurately reconstruct a sequence of events.

But, of course, while having easy access to the right information is important, you need to be able to validate it and keep it secure from potential threats. A DEMS provides secure end-to-end communication and limits who has access to footage—based on clear rules of authorization—as well as what they can do with it. In addition, by integrating to existing systems like Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) or Records Management Systems (RMS), it also reduces human error by extracting existing incident data.

We can go beyond organizational efficiency
As the amount of data being collected worldwide continues to grow at an exponential rate, the challenges of managing that data will also rise. But, from what I have seen, we are ready to meet these challenges, and a DEMS is a great example of how we will do just that.

These solutions can have a huge impact on how organizations operate. They can reduce the time spent on unnecessary manual tasks, help cut costs, and improve the security of our digital evidence. A DEMS also allows us to really use all the data we’re collecting in meaningful ways.

It is my belief that we have a real opportunity to take control of the information being collected in all our systems to do more than help organizations improve their operations. With the right tools, we can use this data to make our daily lives easier, safer, better.

If you’d like to find out more about DEMS, feel free to check out Genetec’s e-book:

About The Author
Andrew Elvish is a columnist, explorer, and the Vice President of Marketing and Product Management at Genetec. Andrew has over 20 years’ experience in the software industry and will surprise you with his knowledge of great restaurants all over the world.


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