OAKLAND, Calif.—Weeks after Ars published a feature on the scope of license plate reader use, the Oakland Police Department unilaterally and quietly decided to impose a data retention limit of six months.They collected almost 5 Million license plate scans, and only stopped because the procurement bureaucracy has essentially infinite impedence.
According to Sgt. Dave Burke, who is in charge of the city’s LPR system, this change was not in response to Ars’ article, but rather was made primarily because the LPR computer—a Windows XP computer with an 80GB hard drive—was full and apparently "kept crashing."
"We had no money in the budget to buy an additional server," he told Ars.
"We don't just buy stuff from Amazon as you suggested," Burke added. "You have to go to a source, i.e., HP or any reputable source where the city has a contract. And there's a purchase order that has to be submitted, and there has to be money in the budget. Whatever we put on the system, has to be certified. You don't just put anything. I think in the beginning of the program, a desktop was appropriate, but now you start increasing the volume of the camera and vehicles, you have to change, otherwise you're going to drown in the amount of data that's being stored."The irony of this is pretty shadenfreudalistic.