Achieving Maximum Reliability with Police Body Cameras

Police Departments Around the World Wrestle with Body Camera Implementation. With police groups, city officials, and civilian rights advocates calling for more transparency in all police matters, the utility of body cameras cannot be understated. A 2014 review showed that early guilty pleas were obtained in 91% of cases where body camera footage formed part of the evidence. Officers in England interviewed after a body camera pilot program last year reported that having cameras on hand helped to de-escalate dangerous situations involving aggressive suspects.

Departments around the world are now initiating body camera programs and drafting policies in an attempt to integrate cameras into their daily patrols, arrests, and drug searches. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio recently pledged to have all 23,000 of the city’s patrol officers wearing cameras by 2019.

The trend is clear—departments are headed for full implementation. But as one might suspect with an emerging technology, there have been some growing pains around this step into the next generation of police work.

Time and Money

Two of the largest hurdles faced by departments in adopting body worn cameras are the cost of acquiring the cameras and the time needed to deal with the digital footage. Creating a proper framework and infrastructure to handle the data surge could mean bringing on more staff, or at the very least, creating new workflows to deal with the new data set.  Therein is the issue.

Many police departments are overtaxed as it is, with district attorneys working long overtime hours. One police department in Benton County, Oregon estimated if they fully adopted body cameras on all their officers, they would then be forced to screen and log over 144 hours of video footage per week. That type of need would require more man power and more money—two resources already in scarce supply.

“If we have people working beyond full-time and we’re expected to take on hours and hours of digital work,” says District Attorney John Haroldson, a Benton County, Oregon law enforcement official, “we would have to cut back proportionately the time we’re spending on our current caseloads.”

Police in Burbank, California echo this concern, adding that the cost of implementing the cameras is difficult to swallow in an era when many departments are habitually underfunded. Lt. Jay Hawver recently told the LA Times that it made no sense to request the roughly $570,000 to purchase the cameras for their precinct.

“There is no identifiable need for the cameras, zero public demand for them, and no substantive justification for this expense has ever been articulated,” he said.

Lt. Hawver may be in the minority though. Benton County Sheriff Scott Jackson recently commented that there is indeed a public outcry for body cameras, and that they serve a real purpose for more effective policing.

“As sheriff I’m really looking forward to the day my deputies are wearing body cams,” Jackson said. “It helps build transparency and answers the community concerns. I think they’re a great thing and I think the evidentiary value is great.”

Reliability

The reliability of body worn cameras is another issue that has popped up in pilot testing programs around the globe. Police officers in London’s Scotland Yard were recently called out for using unreliable technology in their initial phase of body camera tests. Some of the devices failed, with officers calling the data captured unusable. Earlier this year, in Texas, the Houston Police Department suspended its body camera testing program after having issues with its WatchGuard cameras.

In London, an investigation into the data failures found that the issues didn’t actually have to do with the cameras themselves, but rather with the logging in and out of the cameras from the department’s system. Downloading and storing the camera’s saved footage was an issue because the antiquated computer system Scotland Yard was using resulting in data losses.

Finding Solutions

While the cost of cameras is an issue that police departments and city councils around the world will have to budget for, we here at DIGISTOR know that there are solutions to data reliability so long as the right procedures are implemented. DIGISTOR offers a portfolio of solutions for reliable law enforcement data storage, including Flash-based storage for body cameras and in-car video devices.

As police departments around the world strive to implement body cameras, you can be sure that DIGISTOR will be here to find solutions that will work for them over the long term. For more information about our suite of police storage devices, visit our product page, or reach out to a DIGISTOR sales representative today.

Sources

http://www.latimes.com/socal/burbank-leader/news/tn-blr-me-body-cameras-20170523-story.html

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-39730665

https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/oregon/articles/2017-05-20/body-cameras-create-unexpected-challenges-for-oregon-county

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/27/nyregion/new-york-police-department-body-cameras.html?_r=0

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NAND Flash Scarcity – the Roots and Effects of the Issue

Those who have kept an eye on the SSD market over the past 12 months will have noticed a rise in prices due to NAND flash shortages. NAND flash memory is the technology behind power-efficient, solid state drives (SSDs) and other storage memory found in personal computers and mobile devices.

This shortage is impacting those of us in the electronics industry in a variety of ways. Not only are prices rising, but more companies are now trying to fill the void by producing more SSD, while others are hard at work to create alternatives.

The shortage we are experiencing is due to several factors, including:

  • A difficult transition from 2D to denser 3D technology on the manufacturing side
  • Continued high demand for flash for use in smartphones, in particular, the increased storage offered by iPhone 7s
  • Heightened demand from manufacturers desiring flash storage for datacenter hardware
  • Sustained demand for PCs and notebooks, with average flash adoption in notebooks expected to exceed 30%
  • Troubles on the manufacturing side by the two of the largest producers

That final point merits a few more words. One of the largest factors that is undoubtedly contributing to the NAND shortage is Toshiba’s current financial troubles. The second largest supplier of flash memory in the global market and first company to begin producing NAND flash memory, Toshiba has struggled with the production of 3D NAND memory. Toshiba’s troubles are not, however, completely on the manufacturing side. The electronics giant recently acquired a company to build nuclear power plants in the United States—a woeful project that has resulted in accounting scandals, legal actions, and billions of dollars in debt. The upshot: Toshiba is now selling off its semiconductor/NAND memory division. We assume that bidders will include Micron Technology, SK Hynix, Broadcom Ltd, and Western Digital.

Another, more highly publicized issue has to do with the largest supplier of flash memory in the global market: Samsung. The recall of Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 smartphones a few months ago have been a factor in the global scarcity, as scores of devices had to be returned and replaced in the market. Along with each of those returned devices was a flash memory unit taken off the market (at least temporarily).

The net effect of this shortage is that prices have increased to PC manufacturers. As SSD performance is now reaching mainstream consumer awareness, including these drives in personal laptops is becoming more and more expected. Nevertheless, SSDs are not usually within the same capacity that most standard hard disk drives (HDD) are sold with. Laptops sold with SSDs are typically in the range of 128 to 256 GB, while a laptop with an HDD is commonly much higher–anywhere between 500GB to 1 TB. But the price differential tends to be quite significant. That will likely remain consistent while scarcity exists.

Nevertheless, some manufacturers are optimistic. Samsung is now expected to begin operating a new plant in Pyeongtaek in July to further expand its 3D NAND production capacity. Micron will start producing 64-layer 3D NAND chips in the second quarter, with mass shipments becoming ready for the second half of the year. The company promises “meaningful output” by the end of their fiscal year in December.

We won’t hold our breath, but while manufacturers continue to scramble, and alternative storage technologies emerge, we’ll keep you updated. Keep your eye on this blog for further developments.

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SSD prices on the rise due to NAND flash shortages

The NAND flash supply shortage that has endured this year is expected to continue throughout the fourth quarter, and all signs point to ongoing supply issues well into 2017.

According to TrendForce, strong smartphone demand is the main reason for the NAND flash shortage.  However, higher than anticipated SSD adoption rates in the industrial, enterprise, and consumer markets have also contributed to the severe shortages.  We have already seen factory lead times increase nearly two-fold over the past few months, and price increases affecting certain SSD product lines are not far behind.

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Have you felt the impact of flash?

We’ve seen a more dynamic change in the storage of data on Flash in the past few years than ever before. NAND flash used to only be “trusted” (using that term loosely) in two areas: laptops, and non-critical entertainment such as storage for cameras. Before DIGISTOR was big in the flash storage arena, we would scrutinize every detail of a 2.5” SSD drive for our desktop PC’s, comparing how much data per day we copy, use, and write to be sure we wouldn’t run out of NAND P/E cycles before a standard HDD would.

Over time we came to trust the technology, and even work closely with several global chipset manufacturers that let us in on the deep inner workings of how the NAND is used and how the chipset can, in fact, protect your data. Now we’ve scaled far beyond standard SSD storage for PC’s, and Cinema SSD drives. The more we improve industrial grade high speed flash storage, the more critical applications appear that benefit from improved speed and ruggedized design of solid state storage.

One area that was fairly surprising is the way cloud storage uses flash to improve the response time of any given search for your data. Usually we assume this bottleneck, our ISP, will mean that our remote files can be stored on big spinning disk drives out in a server farm where no SSD’s would really be of use. However, have you noticed that search results appear as you type these days on Google, and Facebook? Yes, that is the result of having some parts of the cloud built to use the high speed dependability of solid state storage.

The area that was more expected, but slower growing, is the IoT. The Internet of Things category has been looking for its day in the sun for some time. Now, something amazing is happening due to the improvements in controller tech, NAND flash, and testing for industrial applications. These little devices can finally have the ability to be truly smart because of the capacity, speed, and reliability of the integrated solid state storage, and improved SoC IC all packed into a small footprint.

The more IoT devices can prove themselves as necessities in our lives, the more innovation will grow from the next generation of devices. In order to do this though, the main requirement is usability. A close second is reliability. IoT devices are usually low power, and always running. Perhaps you don’t even use a particular device every day, but when you need to use it, it must be reliably functioning. There is no room for off-the-shelf consumer flash storage when you have a critical control system in place, perhaps monitoring the security of your home, or granting access to your front door.

We all got used to flash with cheap SD storage for our point-and-shoot cameras, and maybe we have had some experience with SSDs in our laptops. Now that flash storage is used for more critical components in our digital life, there’s no other choice but to be sure your storage of choice is high quality tested NAND and built by a trusted manufacturer. DIGISTOR is always willing to help you in this endeavor. If you’re working on any project, large or small, IoT or enterprise storage, and want to take storage concerns out of the equation, just contact us and we’ll be able to help.

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What You’re Paying for When You Buy SSD Drives Designed for Professional Video Shoots

Sure, you can get an SSD that looks as though it ought to fit your video camera for fairly cheap on eBay or off the shelf. So what makes a “professional video” SSD, well, professional?

To begin with, not all SSD drives are compatible with a high-end video camera like that from Blackmagic Design.

Some don’t fit the camera; a standard 7mm SSD can make enough difference to either keep the drive from going in at all or making it slip around unforgivably once it’s been put in place. Most newly released SSD’s don’t have cameras in mind and are designed to be as thin as possible. This extra space within the camera can cause rattling, and additional wear on the SATA connection.

Others have firmware that just doesn’t work with your camera, interrupting your workflow with inability to record, or cause you to drop frames every time you try to shoot an important video.

That’s why brands like Blackmagic supply their customers with a list of approved SSDs that have been tested and been found to work.
These are higher-end SSDs that have been rigorously tested to ensure you can depend on them—and we’re proud that our DIGISTOR Professional Video SSD series is included on that list.

But they aren’t just one of the numbers. We’ve built them to be something special.

What is it that sets DIGISTOR Professional Video SSD Drives apart?
DIGISTOR Professional Video SSDs aren’t just compatible with your Blackmagic camera; they’re made to function with the camera as if they were born together. You can take your DIGISTOR Professional Video SSD Drive straight out of the box, stick it in your camera, and expect it to work immediately. Contrast that with the formatting, reformatting, and extensive fiddling you can expect if you use another SSD drive and you’ll already start to appreciate the synergy we’ve worked for.

Additionally, here’s an SSD series that’s all about video. (In fact, it’s the first and only!)

See Also: Top 5 things cinematographers love about our Professional Video SSDs

DIGISTOR Professional Video SSDs aren’t just a possible co-opt for filming needs, they’re designed for filming in 2.5K RAW and 2.5K and 4K ProRes along with our special 1TB SSD designed for 4K RAW & ProRes (HQ) 422 format. Extensively tested for Blackmagic Cinema and Production Cameras, our SSDs do more than support the equipment preferred by professional filmmakers.  Powerful, reliable and durable, DIGISTOR Professional Video SSDs aim to make a difference in your filming experience.

Bottom line? Made-for-PC or bottom shelf SSDs may save you a few dollars up front, but there’s a chance you could be throwing the entire cost away (not to mention the price of lost work!) if one fails to meet your needs.

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Industrial SSDs on the Frontiers of Science: Using SSDs at the International Space Station

It’s not only high-end business and heavy-duty applications that rely on the power of Industrial Solid State Drives (SSDs) these days. Besides powering most of our earthly communications and industry, Industrial SSDs are also pushing the frontiers of science beyond the limits of our atmosphere. They have become the storage medium of choice at the International Space Station, allowing reliable, high-volume data collection like never before.

Data storage in space comes with its own set of special challenges. Not only does whatever storage medium used need to be compact, taking up a minimum amount of space, it also needs to be light; as every ounce in the journey to space counts. Limitations also demand that it should have low power consumption.

Finally, any storage system used should have high reliability, and an extreme temperature operating range, the ability to function without gravity, and the ability to withstand a high dose of radiation and remain uncorrupted.

Industrial strength SSD systems are all good as far as most of those criteria go. Radiation alone is a potential problem area. Down here on earth, we’re protected from cosmic radiation by the ozone layer and our atmosphere. This covering is effective in shielding us from most debilitating radiation.  Out there in space, they’re going (figuratively) naked.

Off-the-Shelf and Into Space
NAND flash memory tends to have a vulnerability to radiation; ionizing effects have the potential to do a number on the individual cells that hold the information bytes, resulting in voltage shifts and data corruption. But NASA scientists have discovered that while some memory chips fail dramatically under radiation pressures, others have the capacity to perform reliably.

This means that high quality industrial SSDs can be used after a rigorous test-and-retest procedure in which the highest performers are selected.

That’s why the International Space Station (ISS) now has the capacity to send a large volume of data and video images down to us here; shouldering past the old limits of knowledge and understanding in a way that’s never before been possible.

And it’s only getting better. While the switch from older operating technologies to SSDs began several years ago, just last week astronaut Tom Kelly switched out the old-fashioned Columbus Video Cassette Recorders (VCRs) from the starboard end of the ISS and replaced them with new Solid State Drive recorders.

As the transition to SSDs continues, we can expect to see a much larger volume of higher quality images and information beamed down to us directly from the outer frontiers of scientific exploration.

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What Went Wrong With TLC NAND

When Samsung pushed the envelope and introduced their TLC-NAND flash memory for general use, it had the makings of a landmark innovation. TLC (triple-level cell) NAND is cheaper to manufacture than either SLC or MLC NAND, as it works by fitting more data  into the same NAND cell—three bits per cell, rather than the one bit or two bits that single level (SLC) and multi-level (MLC) NAND can put away in one cell space.  You’d think TLC NAND would take over the market in short order; no reason to waste resources manufacturing more expensive SLC or MLC NAND.

When introduced the new TLC-NAND solid state drives seemed to have conquered all previous difficulties of TLC NAND with some state of the art firmware. Read speeds looked pretty; Samsung SSD 840’s 500MB/s is nothing to sneeze at and reliability was a non-issue.

But, mounting excitement over the potentially cost-effective storage innovation waned as performance problems were discovered.

In fact, it wasn’t long before users began reporting a new and extremely debilitating challenge. Those pretty read-speeds, that near 100% reliability: those only counted for new, freshly written data. Data that had been sitting on the drive for, say, all of eight weeks, would have deteriorated to a level that it could only be read at much slower speeds.

Meaning, by the time you had data sitting static on your drive for six months or a year, those previously high read-speeds would have been reduced to processing at a snail’s pace.

It turns out that this is a problem inherent in the TLC system. Although there’s a voltage drift that happens in every NAND drive over time, in SLC and MLC NAND, this drift is small, consistent, and can be accounted for in the reading algorithms. When you lock three data bits in a cell, though, data deterioration speeds up immensely. What’s worse, there’s no longer a generalized algorithm that can take all the shifting into account, so the old data is simply blurred.

Samsung has introduced two firmware updates in an attempt to smooth over the problem. The first, a fancy algorithm that was meant to take account of the voltage drift and factor it in where necessary, completely failed at solving the issue.

The second, while more successful, offers a somewhat unpleasant workaround: The drive is set to rewrite all data regularly, so nothing ever is old.  It does manage to get around the problem: if all data is new data, it will all be readable and quickly accessible. However, since every NAND SSD has a finite number of writes or rewrites, this isn’t an ideal fix.

What does this all boil down to?
Simply that TLC NAND is not the future of data storage, and it doesn’t even have a good seating in the present. If your data matters in the long term, you’ll want to go with a higher-quality NAND: MLC-NAND for your basic SSD needs, or SLC-NAND for industrial use or super-sensitive data storage. There’s no other way about it.

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Top 5 things cinematographers love about our Professional Video SSDs

Cinematographers and filmmakers love our Professional video SSD drives. After much discussion on the how and why we developed a series of SSD drives focused on video capture, primarily aiming towards certification for Blackmagic recording hardware, we have found the top 5 things that get cinematographers excited about our drives.

 

1. It’s the first and only SSD series made exclusively for video capture.
DIGISTOR set out to build the SSD line up specifically focusing on video capture rather than designing an SSD for computer use. Where other brands build SSDs for a wide variety of computers, we focus on what works well with your video recording hardware.

From the locked bill of materials and firmware, to the NAND flash, controller, and even the physical size of our SSDs, our Professional Video Series was built from the ground up to meet the unique needs of professional filmmakers.

2. Our Professional Video Series SSDs are sized for a snug fit.
Your Blackmagic Camera has a 9.5mm size slot — shouldn’t your SSD be designed to sit securely inside?

While the industry continues to move towards more compact drives, the Professional Video Series remains a standard 9.5mm to avoid shaking, rattling, flexing your connector and possibly dropping frames.

3. Our locked BOM ensures long-term compatibility with Blackmagic.
Once approved by Blackmagic, we lock our bill of materials — both physical and firmware. Before any changes are made, our SSDs are again extensively tested for re-certification by Blackmagic.

For our customers, that means every DIGISTOR drive that has been listed as Blackmagic compatible will remain so, regardless of movements in the market for new NAND or updated controllers.

4. Your workflow, made more efficient by editing straight from the disk.
Stuck on site or don’t have the time to transfer your footage to local storage?

Made to go directly from your Blackmagic recording hardware into the HyperDeck Studio, Blackmagic MultiDock, or connect with a Thunderbolt adapter, our powerful SSDs allow you to smoothly transition from shooting to on-site editing.

5. Our Professional Video Series comes ready to shoot.
Unlike off-the-shelf SSDs that require formatting before use, our Professional Video Series SSDs are made to support recording hardware right out of the box. Compatible with exFAT and already formatted, you can go straight to shooting.

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SSD Dos & Don’ts

SSDs are quickly replacing mechanical, magnetic hard drives thanks to their speed, ruggedness and lightweight, compact form (among a host of other reasons!) Because SSDs are relatively simple to set up, most new users don’t put much thought into long-term care.

Still, there are certain “dos and don’ts” every SSD user should be aware of to extend the life of their drive. Here’s a quick rundown to keep your SSD operating at peak performance:

Don’t Defragment Your SSD
Unlike magnetic drives, fragmentation isn’t going to hurt your SSD’s speed. In fact, fragmentation is a requirement for maximum SSD performance!

SSD controllers can access multiple channels simultaneously. This means that sprawling data across several flash chips allows your SSD to access information with more speed, instead of slowing it down.

Do Check That Auto-Defrag is Disabled
Defragging your SSD is not only unnecessary, but it could shorten the life of your SSD.

SSDs have a lifespan that’s determined by how much they’re used. While it’s designed to last much longer than you’ll ever need it, defragmenting your SSD involves writing data unnecessarily, which will shorten your SSD’s lifespan. OS X and Windows should both be able to detect when an SSD is in use and turn off defragmentation automatically, but just in case be sure to check that the auto defrag option in your OS of choice is turned off.

Don’t Use for Archived Files
SSDs offer uncompromising speed, making them the ideal choice for operating system files and other programs that must be accessed frequently and quickly.

However, due to size limitations and cost-per-gigabyte, SSDs are less efficient for storing large or seldom-used files that simply take up space. If you require a large amount of storage for archiving purposes, optical drives and Blu-ray recordable media provide a scalable and low-cost solution.

Do Enable TRIM
When a block is written to, the entire block must be erased before it can be used to store new data. But the process of erasing blocks can slow the SSD’s performance if it’s managed on the fly.

TRIM is a command that extends the life of your SSD by preventing the drive from overusing certain blocks. The command does so by stepping in a little ahead of time and instructing your operating system (supported by Windows 7 onward) to erase the blocks that are no longer considered “in use” and can be wiped internally.

Windows 7 and 8 should detect an SSD and enable TRIM automatically, but it’s a good idea to check anyway.

Don’t Use Old Operating Systems
Old operating systems like Windows XP and Windows Vista don’t include support for the TRIM command, leaving deleted file data on your drive.

Unerased sectors slow down performance, forcing your operating system to first erase the residual data before writing a file into the free space.

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Why Digistor’s Professional Video SSDs Rock Blackmagic User’s Socks Off

Our SSDs have been described as the “best choice” by filmmakers and here’s why…

1. We streamline your workflow.
We design our SSDs to use the latest NAND flash controller technology, focusing specifically on in-camera use, which means they work well under pressure, no need for OS level optimization that a standard PC SSD may need. The Professional Video Series SSD drives arrive shoot ready, so you can unbox, plug-in, and start filming.

2. Were the most reliable.
Have to shoot a long presentation? Our Professional Video SSDs work flawlessly shooting nonstop, filling the entire drive and never dropping a frame. 4K RAW recording requires massive storage, so we’ve specially developed the 1TB Professional Video SSD for 4K capture in RAW format! To ensure your Digistor SSD goes the distance, our developers employ improvements that extend the endurance of our SSDs with intelligent block management and wear leveling, as well as advanced garbage collection techniques.

3. We build with a locked BOM for quality and consistency with every drive.
What goes on your SSD isn’t just your creative vision, it’s your whole team’s hard work. Digistor knows that filmmakers need the peace of mind that comes from an SSD that’s tailor made for Blackmagic cameras and recorders. Unlike off-the-shelf SSD brands with flexible bill of materials (BOM), which means they can change controller manufacturers, NAND flash, or Firmware with any given batch, we have a locked BOM, giving you reliable, glitch free performance every time. Once our drives are certified by Blackmagic, that certification locks our build.

Have more questions about how Digistor Professional Video SSDs can enhance your Blackmagic experience? Give our team a call or drop us a line at sales@digistor.com.

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