Earlier this month, Axon, the company formerly known as Taser, announced that it will offer a one year free trial of its body cameras and cloud storage to every police department in the United States. While controversy about the use of body cameras is making the news now, controversy about cloud storage for the data captured by those cameras will impact police and prosecutions for years to come.
One third of U.S. law enforcement agencies use body cameras today, according to Axon. The company obviously wants that number to grow. This offer is part of an effort to do just that.
There is a concern, however, that police departments will quickly “opt in” for the free trial without thinking through the long-term data management issues that come along with it.
The body camera free trial comes with a free trial of Axon’s Evidence.com platform and data storage. When asked, “What happens to my data at the end of the trial?,” Axon responds: “You own your data. At the end of the trial, if your agency decides to opt out, we will send a team out to export the data into a system of your choosing. We will also never charge you to access or share any data that must be retained for the purposes of prosecution or investigation. In short, we will make this as easy to ‘unplug’ as it is to deploy.”
As police departments on this year long trial evaluate the body cameras, will they also be evaluating the terms and conditions of Axon’s software and cloud storage? Will they be evaluating competing data storage companies (and their compatibility with various body cameras) for potential migration of the data collected during this first free year? As police departments will learn, the devil is in these details when it comes to data.