Five Data Storage Lessons From The Queensland Police Service

Five Data Storage Lessons From The Queensland Police Service

You think you have data storage and security problems? The Queensland Police Service (QPS) has just rolled out a new system to make it easier to share digital evidence during child exploitation investigations. This is what the QPS learned during the two-year development of that project.

Picture: Getty Images

The Statewide Access to Seized Digital Evidence (SASDE) project is designed to ensure that digital evidence can easily be shared from anywhere in Queensland with specialist forensic investigators. A prime user of the SASDE system will be Taskforce Argos, which investigates child exploitation crimes.

“We’re seizing more and more evidence in digital form,” QPS’ Craig Weatherley. “The whole world has gone digital and we had to find a way to respond.”

“In the child exploitation space, we treat every photograph essentially as a crime scene. Every photo is a child at risk. We leave no stone unturned in trying to identify that child victim and identify the perpetrator and to rescue that child from an further harm The more timely and effectively we can respond, that gives us a better way to identify and help victims.”

The system uses EMC’s Isilon storage system as its backbone, and only went live on 9 August. The initial configuration includes one petabyte of storage, but can be expanded if necessary.

1. Sometimes, you have to rebuild

The new system replaces a previous approach which had grown in an unplanned way in previous years. “Every organisation has probably gone through a reactive phase in trying to catch up,” Weatherly said. “We’ve bolted on pieces of technology to try and keep up, but this is the first time we’ve got ahead of the game. Scalability was key. It allow us to grow as we collect more images and more digital evidence.”

2. Networked storage is always more effective

In some previous cases, evidence had to be sent in physical form on USBs or as hard drives. “The timeliness was not there,” Weatherley said. “With this we can piggyback onto the QPS network and access it straight away.”

3. The cloud isn’t always an option

Many companies looking to replace networked storage systems might consider a cloud-based solution, but that was never an option for QPS: the information is too sensitive and can’t be accessible to third parties.

4. Archiving needs can be extremely long-term

“Records in child protection need to be kept for up to 75 years, especially if they’re used in evidence in court,” said QPS’ George Marchesini. That’s not to say the current system will still be in place, but all the data residing in it will need to migrate to its successor.

5. Faster systems can help staff

One of the key drivers for making the system more efficient is to ensure that investigators don’t have to spend long periods classifying or handling extremely harrowing images. “If you’re reducing that by 50 per cent or more, that’s a big win,” said Marchesini.

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