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Searching through hours of business video is not Saturday night Netflix binge watching

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Many enterprises are understandably concerned about keeping accurate, searchable records for eDiscovery, regulatory compliance, or ongoing business processes. With so many options to choose from when it comes to new technologies that facilitate recording video and audio alike, you’d think this would be an easy task. But whether you’re using a communications platform like Skype, an enterprise social network like Slack, a collaborative groupware app like WebEx, or classic tools like video conferencing, email, and voicemail, you’ll hit the same snag.

The fact is, while these platforms and technologies both old and new can help make life easier in many ways for companies, none of these types of solutions offer a reliable way to quickly locate specific audio and video content. This is a problem when it comes to being prepared to meet regulatory or legal demands, and corporations can find themselves facing serious issues—such as the ones that follow—when they can’t find their audio and video content fast enough due to search limitations.

The hidden cost of manual searches 

Let’s start with a biggie—eDiscovery requests for audio and video files. I often refer to this layer of eDiscovery as the “800-pound gorilla,” because when a business is involved in a lawsuit and opposing counsel makes a discovery request to hand over relevant content, video and audio files are becoming an increasingly significant component of the collection process.

If your company is the one being discovered, you may find yourself forced to search high and low for any and all content that is potentially responsive—regardless of its format and location. If you haven’t prepared in advance for this possibility by installing the right software to speed up the process of file collection and audio/video review, your only option may be to manually listen to upwards of thousands of hours of data.

Your attorneys will likely be stuck repeating this laborious process to ensure that every responsive detail is caught, since they can’t take the risk being accused of hiding evidence later. Even plaintiffs’ attorneys will find themselves up to their necks in these files simply to determine which ones are relevant to their case. Needless to say, all of this manual searching for audio/video files means that the cost of discovery shoots up dramatically, which can be painful if you’re the defendant.

And it isn’t just eDiscovery that causes companies to end up scrambling and wasting time in manual searches. As business communications expand, end users keep more and more video and audio files—from WebEx recordings and video-conference material to recorded Skype calls—that they must continuously refer back to. This can put a big dent in end-user productivity, as employees are left to dig through their files looking for specific content, either because they haven’t indexed it themselves, or because their company hasn’t implemented software that would automatically index the content for them.

Videos you don’t want to watch

Saturday night binge-watching Netflix is one thing, but getting stuck reviewing countless hours of A/V content for recorded depositions to index and absorb for relevance is another. Attorneys and paralegals can find themselves having to spend huge amounts of time listening to and watching audio and video content because of the oral “Q&A” nature of deposition testimony, not to mention recorded witness statements that also generate huge volumes of audio and video content.

Another area where the time-suck of video review comes into play is in the government sector. The use of body-worn cameras by police officers continues to rise, with a recent nationwide survey showing that 95 per cent of police departments have either already completed implementation of body cams or have pledged future commitment to doing so. This footage provides valuable video and audio evidence of events, but creates a searching conundrum when a specific file on a certain event needs to be located.

The best practice of tagging video files with metadata like keywords does not always reliably happen, either by officers or video techs. Sometimes, the keywords selected aren’t meaningful, which complicates the problem. Even for those departments that do attempt regular tagging and categorisation, it can be difficult to keep up with the sheer volume of data generated, since many police departments can generate terabytes of video each week.

As an example, a small California-based police department reports capturing and storing 7TB of video data each month. While some departments have attempted to address the problem by utilising websites that offer some search and indexing capability for video evidence retention, these tend to be cost-prohibitive and also fall short in the desired service. As a result, many jurisdictions wind up having individuals manually review the content when they need to find and report on specific instances for court cases—a time-consuming process, to say the least.

Compliance Is getting more complicated

If you’re still operating in the world where regulatory retention refers only to email, be aware that the game is rapidly changing. The latest requirements for regulatory retention now specifically name (or at least imply) the retention of video and audio data as well as email. As just one example of this new wave of compliance requirements, the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II (MiFID II), which takes effect in January 2018, will generate specific requirements when it comes to recording, storing, and monitoring phone calls and electronic communications.

Article 16(7) of the MiFID II states that “Records shall include the recording of telephone conversations or electronic communications relating to, at least, transactions concluded when dealing on own account and the provision of client order services that relate to the reception, transmission and execution of client orders.” The directive adds: “Records must be stored in a medium that allows them to be accessible for future reference and readily available if NCAs request them.”

It’s this “ready availability” that creates challenges for companies charged with finding specific audio and video content in a hurry. So for enterprises that wish to remain compliant and able to respond to regulatory requests in a timely manner, it becomes imperative that video and audio content be easily searchable as well as indexed.

Searching in the cloud

Clearly, the DIY route is not the best approach when it comes to locating specific audio and video files for eDiscovery, court cases, and other regulatory matters. A far better strategy is to take advantage of the cloud for real-time audio and video indexing and search functions. Today’s most effective technologies in this regard allow for real-time indexing and transcription of both video and audio files. This capability enables search and location of specific content, making it finally fast and easy to execute searches across terabytes of content that were previously not indexed. 

Some benefits of using a managed cloud archive that’s specifically designed for long-term archiving of compliance data include the ability to:

Store archived content in its original (native) format.

Manage and search audio and video files while maintaining complete access to and control of your archived data, rather than entrusting your critical information to a proprietary cloud archive that a third party controls.

Consolidate your unstructured data while at the same time decreasing the archival cloud storage costs, including: 

• eDiscovery/compliance data
• Legacy email archives
• Journal folders
• Departed employee work files
• PSTs
• File share content
• Backups
• System generated data

Experience affordable infinite scalability via long-term, secure compliance retention and management. 

In short, the cloud has rapidly emerged as the best option for companies that want to reverse the ever-expanding issues associated with compliance, legal, and business requirements. With a platform that effectively addresses collection, migration, and long-term retention/disposition of archived and unstructured data—including for audio and video files—this cloud-based solution offers cost-effective compliance storage, real-time on-demand indexing, and native eDiscovery functionality that can speed up and simplify A/V content searches when you need them the most.

Bill Tolson, Vice President of Marketing, Archive360
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Bill Tolson
Bill has 25+ years of technology experience, including 15+ years in archiving, information governance, and eDiscovery. He is a frequent speaker at legal and information governance events and has authored numerous books, articles and blogs.