Advancements in higher resolution digital cameras combined with new laws and regulations are increasing the volume of video surveillance data that must be stored. This is creating a challenge for the security and surveillance industry to find storage options that are appropriate, accessible and cost effective for its customers.

Megapixel (MP) resolution cameras give high-definition resolution that extend to 5MP and higher and allow users to record large, clear surveillance video. However, these high-definition images can quickly increase data storage costs for additional bandwidth to upload the data as well as for the actual costs of storing and accessing video.

Changes in federal, state and local laws and regulations, as well as higher levels of corporate security requirements, are driving increased need for video surveillance storage, too. State and municipal laws vary by application: For example, storage and retention requirements for public transportation video surveillance range from 48 hours up to 100 days.[1] Police departments must retain surveillance videos from interrogation and interview rooms for more than 999 days.[2] The growing use of body cameras by law enforcement also will heighten the need for more storage capacity.

The cloud may seem like the inevitable solution to this storage capacity problem. Yet cloud storage can be expensive and contains hidden costs. In addition to bandwidth requirements, these costs may include data transfer charges to access the video data and data redundancy costs for storing several copies of your data at various cloud server locations. Data redundancy enables added protection in case of natural disaster or cyberattack.

However, cloud storage can raise issues for some types of organizations. Police departments and government agencies may have chain of custody requirements for the handling of evidence and recordings. Cloud storage can become problematic if it is difficult to prove chain of custody when video data has been handled by someone outside the organization. If an organization needs immediate access, it may experience delays in withdrawing video data through a cloud provider.

Many users are opting to store low-resolution video online to reduce costs, but this approach also reduces the effectiveness of the video, which can be an issue for videos used in legal cases. Others are adopting a “hybrid cloud” solution that combines a mix of on-site, private and public cloud storage that can be customized to the organization’s needs.

[1] “Video Surveillance usage in public transportation!”, blog posting by Storage Servers, March 9, 2016. Available at:

[2] “Video Surveillance Storage Trends to Watch,” by Brian Grainger, Security Info Watch, July 14, 2016. Available at:

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