The Metropolitan Police in London has chosen Microsoft Azure as the cloud platform to store video evidence from body-worn cameras, manufactured by Taser, in a programme that will be rolled out in all London boroughs.
Following a trial programme that equipped 3,500 police officers with the technology, the Met now intends to provide every front-line member of the Met with a Body-Worn Video (BWV) camera. The cameras themselves can record roughly 12 hours of footage. When an officer returns to the station, they place the camera in a docking point and the contents of the camera are automatically uploaded.
During this upload, the officer decides whether the video is useful – and if so, categorises it, where it can be stored for an indefinite amount of time. Otherwise, video is automatically deleted after 31 days. Taser subsidiary and camera provider Axon supplies the management software.
The servers are hosted on UK soil, and in line with UK data guidance, according to Superintendent Adrian Hutchinson, the lead on mobile technology for the Met and one of the programme’s earliest advocates.
“Microsoft is a long-term MPS trusted partner,” says Hutchinson. “They approached us with Axon Taser, with an almost seamless opportunity to store our data securely within the UK. It’s made life a lot easier for the first 3,500 cameras that have been rolled out.”
Hutchinson says that although the data can be stored indefinitely, the Met follows “all the UK guidelines around data storage and work with a lot of people like the Office of the Surveillance Commission”.
“We’ve engaged with [NGOs] Big Brother Watch and Liberty, so we follow the standard,” he says. “But [if the video is] for murder, for instance, it could be for life – we have an active weeding policy and we don’t record and retain everything.”
However, Microsoft was recently embroiled in a spat with the American government over access to date from its Outlook.com service in Ireland – despite the servers being located in Ireland. The Justice Department argued that although the data was local, because Microsoft is an American company, it should be allowed access anyway.
The courts ruled in Microsoft’s favour, but the Justice Department could still appeal.
Regardless, Hutchinson says the MPS carried out its due diligence. “Let’s not forget that we use Microsoft products and we have done for many years in sensitive policing operations,” he says. “It’s a UK-based policing operation with a long-term supplier, so we did our due diligence and we’re completely comfortable with Microsoft in their UK base. We are happy with UK legislation and UK storage, which is what we’ve got.”