Columbus, Ohio, Approves $1.45 Million for Video-Storage System for Police Body Cameras

The City Council also approved spending about $3.3 million to implement the Smart Columbus electrification plan.

by Mary Beth Lane, The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio / May 23, 2017

(TNS) — Separate plans to equip police with body cameras and drive Columbus toward "smart" transportation advanced Monday with City Council approval to spend money on each.

City Council approved spending about $1.45 million to buy a video-storage system for footage captured by police wearing body cameras.

Mayor Andrew J. Ginther has announced plans to equip about 1,500 officers with body cameras by the end of next year. The $1.45 million for a video-storage system is part of approximately $10 million the city plans to spend to roll out the cameras.

Thirty-two officers currently have them and starting in June, an average of 80 officers per month will be equipped through the end of next year, said Cathy Collins, assistant director of the city's Department of Public Safety.

The new storage system to be used at the city's two data centers will store video from both body cameras and cruiser dashboard cameras, and will ensure a better back-up system that will safeguard against video deletion, Collins said.

"We are duplicating in two different places," Collins said, referring to the two data centers, "so there will always be a back-up."

Additionally, the new storage system includes a snapshot feature that will take pictures of the data and provide another back-up, said Sam Orth, director of the city's Department of Technology.

The departments worked together to identify a new video storage system that would accommodate body-camera and dash-cam videos, Collins and Orth said.

An estimated 100,000 dash-cam videos stored from Columbus Police Division traffic stops and call responses were deleted in March after an officer trying to transfer them into a new classification system wound up purging them instead. Police Chief Kim Jacobs said the 2015 videos and an estimated 500 video files from last year were deleted.

Collins and Orth assured City Council that they don't expect that to happen again with the new video-storage system.

City Council also approved spending about $3.3 million to implement the Smart Columbus electrification plan. The money will be drawn from a $10 million grant that Columbus received last year from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through "decarbonization" of the electric supply and transportation sectors.

Columbus won the U.S. Department of Transportation's $40 million Smart Cities Challenge last year. The combined $50 million in private and government funding will help develop Smart Columbus plans for smarter, cleaner transportation and help it become a connected city and a test market for smart technology. Some of the plans include more electric-vehicle charging stations in the city, street lights that act as wireless Internet hubs, connected vehicles and collision avoidance technology for COTA buses, officials have said. So far, Smart Columbus has received additional pledges of more than $500 million in projects and money with a goal of $1 billion.

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