Security Systems & video retention

Pinelake is updating our inhouse security cameras (preschool & children’s classrooms) with new Network Video Recorders & IP cameras, with an internal RAID 5 array. Some of our elders have legal backgrounds and are asking questions about retention times.

  1. What is your church using for security camera systems?
  2. How long do you maintain/retain the footage?
  3. One of the requests I have been given (albeit by non technical people) is to back up to “the cloud” (you know that magic thing everyone uses) to keep videos in perpetuity. Yes you read that right, never delete. I don’t even know of an NVR I could upload one file to cloud storage much less every file or a provider short of Google’s deep storage to use.

Thanks for any insights.

  1. We’re using a combination of legacy Sony 640x480 cams and some Hikvision 1080+IR cams. We’re using Milestone Xprotect software. Pretty simple, pretty cheap.
  2. 30 days. No idea why that number. Could have been the default in our old software.
  3. I think our software chunks the video into files and timestamps them in the filename. I think if you uploaded the files before the system deletes them, they’d be archived indefinitely. There’s an import tool, if I recall right, that can read a directory full of those files and import and index them if you ever need to reload them from the cloud.

But practically speaking, I have to imagine that after about six months or so, the footage is pretty well useless. I wouldn’t expect much more than that, certainly not more than a year.

  1. How much storage will be available on your raided volume?
    2 We use milestone protect proffesional + with 5tb flash storage
  2. With 5 tb with over 50 cams at 1080p we get about 7 days of recording on our all flash 5tb storage, then it goes to an Isci volume. We keep the storage in the Isci connection for 30 days, then it gets tossed.
  3. I don’t know if nvr are smart enough to push data to the cloud, and it they were, you have to worry about your upload bandwidth.

#1 most clients on Ubiquiti.
#2 most only keep footage about a week, but the needs here in Singapore are a bit different as they rarely look back beyond 24 hours.
#3 Depending on what OS is storing the data you can use all kinds of tools and scripts to shift old recordings to a cold storage in the cloud, it’s just probably not a very sensible idea to do so. Anyhow, when dealing with children’s ministry and liability (and youth ministry in general really) it’s worthwhile to call in a legal specialist in the field as they will give you guidance on what a court will expect as a reasonable standard (both for technical stuff like videa and sign-in and on volunteer policies) and you can go at it from there. Definitely worth the money to do so.

We have about 70+ cameras and we retain about a month’s worth. It takes a lot of storage space to try and archive them all. Since you also have a school, I don’t know how long you should retain that. Maybe someone else can answer that.

As far as liability, your elders have a few more things to consider than they realize.

  • If a crime is committed you may actually be asked or required by law to retain surveillance footage, so you MUST have a way to do so

  • Access to the video needs to be carefully restricted and you should have policies and procedures in place as to when and by whom the footage can be reviewed and released. The few people we have authorized to review the footage have gone through extensive background checks and other vetting and can only review video when an explicit incident report has been submitted or an alarm has been set off.

  • The placement of cameras needs to be carefully considered to take into account both security and privacy concerns. Again, having written standards for this is recommended.

  • The storage devices that hold the video (usually a DVR or server of some type) should be secured. Preferably in a locked room with restricted access. Similarly, if there are backups on or offsite they should be secured. I wouldn’t even consider offsite storage anywhere that isn’t a Class 5 server room.

As far as how long footage should be retained, the general rule of thumb is 15-30 days. That is long enough for a crime/incident to be reported and footage reviewed, and not unnecessarily long. But again, you need to be able to retain footage longer if requested by law enforcement.

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The security vendor will know about proper placement. For example, a camera cannot be positioned to see into a restroom when the door is open. We had to change where a camera was being installed at our school for that reason.
We retain about a month at our school. For us, footage review usually involves something that just happened on the playground or in the gym, so we have not needed to look back very far.
You might already have a record retention policy that would cover security footage.

  • Greg
  1. Exacq

  2. 30 Days

  3. Exacq has an archive feature you could use. Instead of uploading to the cloud, could you just upload the data to another server in another building on the same campus or to a different server at another campus?

  1. Ubiquiti - 50 x 1080p cameras, standard bitrate, 15fps, no audio, (illegal in KS if not disclosed), capture on motion, 8tb in raid 6.
  2. 90 Days (local spinning storage is pretty inexpensive)
  3. No offsite backup (yet).
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We use Genetec Security Desk Software and 20 Axis Cameras

We retain video for 21 days, unless something happens, then we put a do not delete hold on the video relating to the incident.

We have 20 camera’s retaining 21 days of video, it is about 13 TB of data, pushing to cloud would require a lot of space, you could reduce the quality, but that makes it hards to see things if you have to go back and look for something.