Video Surveillance + CCTV Systems

Why Now is the Perfect Time to Evaluate Your Video Retention Policy

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Why Now is the Perfect Time to Evaluate Your Video Retention Policy

In light of the impact COVID-19 has had on business operations, many organizations are working hard to evaluate their existing policies and adapt to this new normal as best they can.

One key security policy, however, may not be high on their list to review: video retention.

Video retention allows organizations to go back after the fact to investigate an incident. In normal circumstances, these incidents are often noticed by staff and reported quickly within the retention period, allowing companies to pull up video and review what happened. But in today’s environment, when there are likely fewer staff on-site or less overall activity, the chances of quickly discovering an incident decrease.

For example, vandalism or theft may be noticed in short order by staff reporting to work. They would then report the incident and an investigation would begin, which would likely include pulling video recordings.

But what happens when staff aren’t on-site and are working from home? Or when only a small percentage of staff are physically going to work? What if an incident happens and no one notices until three to four weeks later or past the video retention period when there are no longer any stored recordings?

This creates a problem and can become a liability for an organization.

The physical capacity of video surveillance systems is often planned out when a system is first designed and implemented. Many factors are considered, such as the recording resolution, the number of cameras, type of cameras and more – all of which can change over time.

More cameras get added or existing cameras get updated, new features are added to the video management system or the cameras, all of which can affect retention and cause organizations to miss their retention target. All too often, what started off as a target of 30 days of video retention becomes 28, then 25 and so on.

This is why it’s important to evaluate your video retention polices. In doing so, you can ensure you’re retaining video evidence for a longer period of time. Below are a few things you can do to expand your retention.

Easy Ways to Expand Your Video Retention

1. Audit your camera settings.

Look at your camera settings to determine if they are recording at the right frame rate, the right resolution and that the motion sensitivity is properly set for the scene.

Not all cameras and streams are created equal and, in some cases, you can sacrifice some quality for more storage. Motion sensitivity is another thing that can be changed to meet the needs of the scene. I’ve often seen digital displays, trees or even lighting trigger motion recording which can waste a lot of storage. Look at your camera scenes to tweak and tune these settings.

2. Set up archiving.

If you have additional unused storage somewhere, set it up for archiving video beyond your retention period; this can get you additional days of storage.

Most video management systems support archiving, and it can be set up on a schedule to take advantage of low-bandwidth times during off-hours. If you have a SAN or a storage array that isn’t being maxed out, create a volume on it and archive video to it.

Archiving is typically pretty easy to set up and, in most video management systems, the archived video is just as easy to access and search as non-archived video. You can even choose only your most critical cameras for archiving – cameras that are in areas where theft, vandalism or accidents are more likely to happen.

3. Store critical video streams in the cloud as a separate stream.

If you have any critical cameras in highly secured areas, you can send an additional stream from that camera to a cloud-based platform for on-demand storage and easy access from anywhere. In most cases, multiple streams can be recorded from the same camera on different platforms, so adding critical camera streams to an additional platform for recording – or even better, cloud recording – gives you a lot of flexibility to increase retention as needed.

4. Run reports on your retention performance.

Some tools will allow you to run retention reports or look at retention metrics to see in detail how much storage each camera stream is using on a day-to-day basis. If you can look across your environment at each camera stream and see storage usage day-over-day for each stream, you can easily spot outliers that need additional configuration.

Whether you expand your video retention or not, be sure to at least revisit and evaluate your video retention policies. In today’s environment, when organizations have fewer staff reporting to work on-site – and some have temporarily closed – it’s more important than ever to ensure your security systems are configured properly to reduce potential risks and liabilities.

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