California Initiates Drafting Body Camera Policy

With body camera footage becoming more and more important to cases drawing widespread national attention, police departments in California are proactively drafting policies to prepare for what they feel is an inevitable mandate – that all officers use and wear the body cameras. Most civilian and police groups agree the devices build transparency and answer the community concerns—but there are still hurdles to adopting the technology.

In Southern California, Los Angeles and Burbank police departments have begun talks with civilian oversight organizations to ensure officers use body cameras with the best possible practices.

“Our goal is to draft a policy that will be the industry standard for other organizations to come to us to have that best policy,” said Deputy Chief Mike Albanese from the Burbank Police Commission.

Though the time frame for when officers will actually begin wearing the cameras is unknown, the public assumption is that it is will happen soon.

“Everyone knows it’s coming,” Albanese said. “Whether it’s going to be mandated legislatively or from an officer-safety component, risk management component… It’s going to happen.”

The biggest obstacle to the body cameras being implemented is the cost involved and the reliability of the storage technology. Burbank looked at buying cameras in 2015 and found the price tag–$570,000—was a bit steep for council members to approve.

While the cost is an issue that police departments and city councils across the nation will have to contend with, we here at DIGISTOR know that data reliability will not be an issue so long as our practices and technologies are employed. DIGISTOR offers a portfolio of solutions for reliable law enforcement data storage, including Flash-based storage for body cameras and in-car video devices.

For more information about our suite of police storage devices, visit our product page now, or reach out to a DIGISTOR representative today.


Use Case: Body Worn Camera Manufacturer requires a Data Storage Solution that solves for both Speed and Reliability

DIGISTOR was approached by a large, successful manufacturer of body worn camera equipment in 2013 concerning the launch of a new camera targeting the law enforcement community.

The camera had a beautiful industrial design, and was loaded with several new features including very high resolution video.

The software developed integrated seamlessly with a full chain of custody solution, ensuring that the digital evidence would be admissible in a court of law.

The Challenge

But, there was one problem. The microSD card originally selected for the camera continually became corrupted, thus losing valuable evidence and making this new body camera all but useless.

Although hundreds of thousands of dollars had been invested in the camera’s hardware and software development, very little investigation was done into the data storage solution the video would ultimately be written too.

The manufacturer turned to DIGISTOR for help.

The Solution

DIGISTOR worked with the manufacturer’s engineering team to understand the full picture, and identified two critical application requirements:

  • Speed. The customer had a critical high speed write requirement that the SD card had to achieve under all circumstances.
  • Reliability. It was crucial that not only the video was protected from corruption, but that the manufacturer’s customers could have a firm understanding of the life expectancy of each card.

Early on in the design process, the manufacturer focused heavily on speed as the number one requirement.

Working closely with the DIGISTOR firmware engineers, the manufacturer was able to achieve the performance needed for video capture of high resolution video.

Moving on to the reliability requirements, the engineers quickly realized the two bigger issues were the lack of consistency on longevity of the microSD cards, and an unacceptable failure rate.

The DIGISTOR engineer’s test results showed that corrupted tables were locking up the SD cards and not allowing for data recovery of potentially crucial video evidence. The engineers took the following approach to support the manufacture’s identification of the best microSD card solution:

  • DIGISTOR provided an application analysis card which the manufacturer ran in a real life application scenario for a 2-week period.
  • DIGISTOR analyzed the data captured to determine how the application was accessing the SD cards, which also showed the write/erase counts.
  • The data analysis also showed incompatible access patterns within the customer software which could be altered to help overall reliability.
  • DIGISTOR was able to perform a Failure Analysis (FA) on the failing cards that showed how the manufacturer’s application was writing to the SD card and where the issues were occurring.

The Results

By having a full understanding of how the video application accessed the SD card and also how the software was over-stressing memory cells due to unevenness of the write/erase cycles caused by incompatible access patterns in the application itself, the DIGISTOR engineering team found that the standard wear-leveling algorithm was not activating properly and causing corruption within the SD card.

DIGISTOR was able to modify standard firmware to meet the requirement of the video application.

DIGISTOR recommended the manufacturer make changes to the software, which improved the overall performance of the SD card and BWC application.The manufacturer was able to achieve both the performance and reliability needed for a successful new camera launch.

Today, the manufacturer continues to grow share in the body worn camera market and achieve a solid ROI on their secure data platform.

How does your Body Worn Camera store and manage crucial video evidence?

Police agencies around the country are ramping up their Body Worn Camera (BWC) policies and procedures. High profile police assault videos have continued to surface on the internet creating a public outcry for reform, training, and accountability. Federal grants to help fund policing services need for BWC deployments are rapidly expanding.  These subsidies have created a whirlwind of new manufacturers into the BWC business looking to take advantage of federal grants and a growing market. BWC cameras have a variety of features including high definition video capture, night vision, and ruggedized housing.

BWC cameras record video evidence on an SD card similar to what you would use in a standard camera. That is part of the issue, most agencies and BWC manufacturers use off the shelf consumer SD cards to acquire and store video evidence without even realizing it.  These types of SD cards are at very high risk of corruption. Consumer cards do not offer extended temperature support and are at risk of failure in both hot and cold climates.  Standard SD cards will fail in several instances including being left behind in a hot car for just a short period. Most standard SD cards do not offer a Power-Fail feature or robust video acquisition firmware to keep from having corruption or overwrite issues. The testing and components used by consumer card manufacturers are not to the standard needed to provide a secure and robust BWC video storage solution.

The real question is how to protect crucial video evidence best on Body-Worn Cameras and ensure the proper video evidence gets from the camera to the courtroom? Agencies, BWC manufacturers, and surveillance companies can solve a lot of support and security issues by asking their current BWC supplier specific questions about the storage onboard their BWC camera. The first step is not to be so caught up on speed; these cards are all very fast. That said all SD Cards are not all equal, so it is important to design a card for your particular application. A few important questions to ask your BWC provider and ensure you have the best possible secure storage for your BWC application.

What operating/storage temp is your card supported, both heat/cold?

Does your SD card have a locked Bill of Materials (BOM)?

Does your SD card use TLC, MLC, or SLC flash?

Can you lock your SD card to one specific camera for security purposes?

Can your SD card protect against accidental deletions?

Do you have a power-fail feature?

Again be sure to look deeper than basic specifications such as read/write speeds, sometimes the fastest card may not be the best card for your application. Understanding your overall application and how it accesses the flash within the SD card itself is much more important. Understanding your overall BWC application demands and lifetime expectancy of your BWC camera is crucial to both protecting key video evidence as well protecting the agencies investment. Securing the video until transferred to a more secure and permanent location is the biggest question facing the BWC community, and they don’t even know it yet.

Anyone can build an SD card, but not all SD cards are created equal

SD cards and microSD cards of all varieties permeate the consumer market. The price is continually dropping. They’re mass produced in huge factories in Asia. The cost of materials is so low you may start to wonder is there a way to ensure you receive a high quality SD card for your automotive, medical, body worn camera or other demanding product?

Do you really want consumer SD or microSD cards for these projects? Not if storage is a critical component of your solution. You’re dealing with narrow requirements, and you don’t have room for mistakes and equipment malfunctions. Home users of electronic equipment like SD cards can work around the occasional dud or random defective piece, but working in a professional industry is a different ballgame. What to a causal user is simply an annoyance can make the difference between success or failure, and the odds aren’t small. You need to get things right the first time.

That’s why industrial SD and microSD cards aren’t an option for those working in certain industries—they’re a necessity. All SD cards are not created equal, and comparing your industrial SD card with one bought off the Walmart shelves is like comparing a grocery store hot dog with fine Paris cuisine. The cards you buy off store shelves are produced with minimal quality control, and there’s no consistency even among cards that come from the same manufacturer. You might test a hundred and find one you really like, but there’s no guarantee that the next one you buy with the same labeling is made of the same components or has anything like the same capability. There’s no guarantee for what’ll happen when you put it under stress.

What about DIGISTOR industrial SD cards? These come with a price tag, but there’s nothing arbitrary about the price: you get what you pay for. In this case, it’s high quality MLC/SLC NAND, a wide temperature range, and Consistency spelled with a capital C. It means you don’t have to worry about the bill of materials (BOM) changing on you—and that’s huge. If you build an application around one of our SD or microSD cards you can have the confidence to know that these cards will continue working in future instances of the application: no unpleasant surprises, no need for frequent retests.

Using an industrial SD or microSD card means you get quality and you get control. You get to utilize the resources within the controller. You have control over the BOM. Nothing can change without your say-so, and you know exactly what the capabilities of your cards are in every instance.

We’d be happy to share more with you about our industrial quality SD cards—just call us for more info. DIGISTOR stands for reliability and quality, and SD cards for your industrial application is one case where those two things really do matter.

Your microSD Card: Is Cost All That Matters?

They look the same and have the same capacity.  For consumers shopping for a microSD card, the only difference might appear to be their price. Does it really matter which microSD card you buy? Should you go with the cheapest option?

Turns out, there’s more to that little plastic chip than you can see on the outside.
It may come as a surprise, but choosing a microSD card is actually an important decision that affects the performance of your phone or other mobile device. Pair a cheapo microSD with your top notch smartphone and you’re setting yourself up for a whole range of problems, ranging from memory failures and corrupted files to crashing your entire phone OS.

“The fact that there are a lot of fake cards out there,” reports Richard Lai of Engadget interviewing Hugo Barra, Xiaomi’s Vice President of International.

The market abounds with SanDisk that is not really SanDisk, Kingston that is not really Kingston, and other major manufacturers that are possibly just cheap Chinese fakes. It’s not hard to print out a name-brand sticker and put it on a generic microSD. Barra elaborated on the problem:

“You think you’re buying like a Kingston or a SanDisk but you’re actually not, and they’re extremely poor quality, they’re slow, they sometimes just stop working, and it gives people huge number of issues, apps crashing all the time, users losing data, a lot of basically complaints and customer frustration. It’s gonna be a while before you finally accept that maybe the reason why it’s not performing is because you put in an SD card.”

Because of the prevalence of sub-quality microSD cards on the market, the problem has many smartphone manufacturers choosing not to put microSD slots in their high-end, flagship phones at all. There’s just too much potential for disaster and the problems that come up usually get blamed on the innocent phone, rather than the tiny memory card hiding inside of it, jamming up the works.

But despite the concern from big brands, microSD slots are still a big selling point for shoppers.
If you do value the ability to increase your smartphone’s memory beyond its out-of-the-box capacity, make sure the card you’re slipping inside is a quality product – not a phone-debilitating enemy in disguise.

It’s important to not only choose a brand you can trust, but also with a reliable distributor; preferably, an official partner of a top-quality brand like Panasonic or Kingston. Our official partnership with Panasonic is just one reason DIGISTOR is a preferred retailer for high-end, quality microSD cards you can trust. If you’d like to learn more about our quality control and microSD card compatibility, call up one of our sales associates for more information.