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21st Century Operations Using 21st Century Technologies

Transportation Management Center Video Recording and Archiving Best General Practices

Executive Summary

Closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras are an important tool for transportation agencies who rely on them for incident verification, response preparation, traffic management awareness, special events, weather conditions, and much more. In some instances, these agencies have considered recording all or some of the video feeds—and in many instances agencies are sharing video with other transportation and law enforcement agencies.

This report presents a cross section of how different agencies are addressing video recording and sharing topics—drawn from a literature review, online inquiry, interviews, and expert input. Since State and local regulatory, policy, operational, and fiscal environments differ (in some cases quite significantly) it is a challenge to identify one-size-fits-all best practices. Therefore this report presents best general practices for Transportation Management Center (TMC) leaders to consider and in some instances recognizes that several different practices might apply (specific to the needs of an agency or organization).

TMC managers report that they can be successful under any of the three fundamental video recording approaches—always (continuously record most feeds), sometimes (initiate recording of individual feeds for specific events), and never. There are benefits and limitations to each approach, often specific to the current environment within the agency, and this report attempts to portray the many different scenarios that may be present.

The best general practices cover a wide range of issues, including:

  • Technical—Example: consider a software feature that enables automatic screen shots of a composite of selected camera feeds—useful for incident clearance performance management.
  • Operational—Example: when saving video clips, use a consistent and searchable file name structure, and keep the request process simple and scalable. Consider using forms linked to tracking databases to reduce manual data entry.
  • Policy—Example: to support Transportation Systems Management and Operations (TSMO) collaboration with local agencies, use recent, local clips in Traffic Incident Management (TIM) training. Also consider including TIM participation as a precondition of sharing streaming or recorded video.
  • Legal—Example: since State Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and record retention laws differ, ask Counsel if your State’s FOIA equivalent law has language on video recordings and differentiates between "raw data" and "records."

The best general practices are based primarily on the experiences of agencies. This report presents findings in chapters that include recording and using video, fulfilling requests for recorded video, sharing real-time images, legal and policy issues including the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), and written policies. It also highlights seven case studies from transportation agencies that bring attention to differences in their policies and practices in an instructive manner.

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