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New system captures and retrieves video from six facilities housing as many as 10,000 inmates.

Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) in Arizona is implementing jail surveillance technology that will let the agency capture 24/7 high-definition video from 3,000 cameras in six detention facilities and access these recordings almost instantly.

The agency, the nation’s third largest sheriff’s department, manages between 7,500 and 10,000 inmates in its jail system, and had relied on multiple tape-based systems for jail monitoring. But the creaky old systems had grown undependable.

“Reliability was a major concern as MCSO encountered a lot of persistent technical problems with the older platform, encompassing corrupted tapes, cameras that suddenly went offline and ongoing system failures,” said Lt. Brandon Jones, the office’s public information officer. According to govtech, he added, “There were no alerts when something happened, so the office was constantly fighting a battle instead of being proactive.”

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In addition, the archived footage was difficult to retrieve. It could take as long as 60 days to identify, access and retrieve a month’s worth of surveillance data, Jones said.

Jones said that the new system, which currently is being installed, offers the following benefits:

  • An office administrator can quickly retrieve footage from the storage repository, which archives surveillance and sensor data for up to 60 days.
  • The amount of data the sheriff’s office now captures and archives has increased significantly, and the new system is still 10 times faster than the old one. As a result, MCSO can double its recording capacity to exceed 2,500 incidents each year.
  • An officer can now pull 12 hours of full HD video in 17 minutes, a task that would have taken at least three hours in the past.
  • The MCSO can scale the current 5.5 petabytes of storage to as many as 30 petabytes.

Funded through Maricopa County’s Capital Facility Improvement funds, the project’s return on investment will be measured in response time and overall performance.