Lansing, Michigan Marijuana CCTV Rules

Here are the requirements for Lansing, Michigan as listed in Ordinance §1300.05.

Medical marijuana establishments shall continuously monitor the entire premises on which they are operated with security cameras. The recordings shall be maintained in a secure, off-site location for a period of 14 days.

How to Comply with Lansing, Michigan Municipal Ordinance §1300.05's Recording Regulations:

The pleasant thing about this list of requirements is that it is much shorter than most other states, however, like the other states listed here, the regulations don't make much sense. Sadly, this regulation is so errant that here's no real way to comply, out-of-the-box, with this regulation with high quality HD security cameras.

The Main Issue: 5Mbps.

5 megabits per second is the minimum bandwidth that you would need to upload one, single 1080P camera. The average internet upload connection speed in the United States is less than that. The average business upload speed in the US is somewhat higher, but varies greatly by location. Until the internet connection speed in the United States vastly improves, the technical limitations of transmitting the data required for real-time backup of surveillance footage are insurmountable. Additionally, in that you are required to monitor "the entire premises" there's no way that one camera will be sufficient.

The Secondary issue: Liability Insurance.

Even beyond the technical limitations, there are very few single camera systems that store video to the cloud and most specifically state that they are not for security purposes. Most professional surveillance camera providers won't offer this service because of liability insurance. By providing an off-site cloud-based repository for footage that is specifically security or surveillance related, a company faces significant liability risk. Risk that is compounded by a far-too-slow and unreliable infrastructure. This is the main reason that no major surveillance system company offers any sort of cloud based storage.

Workaround #1: Daily Backups

You can export footage from the NVR (depending on model) to a USB drive or NAS or eSata drive. You could remove that data daily and store it offsite. This will be labor intensive.

Workaround #2: Automatic Backup to a NAS and then sync the NAS folder with Dropbox

You'll need an IT guy for this to work, but you can automatically export the footage to a NAS and then tell Dropbox to sync that folder with the cloud. You probably will have to sync very low-quality files for this to work, so this isn't a great plan, but Michigan does not have any resolution requirements listed in Ordinance §1300.05. This is still a bad plan; you'd be sacrificing your security to comply with the security regulations, which is counter intuitive.

How the Michigan Law Needs to Change

Modern surveillance systems have two file outputs: a main stream which is high resolution and recorded and a sub-stream which is usually low resolution (you can control the resolution on both feeds, so that they work with whatever internet connection speed you have) that is broadcast when you are viewing them remotely. We're not aware of any major brand that allows you to record the sub stream over the internet because of the liability trap. Therefore, most other states' regulations state not that the footage has to be off-site, but has to be accessible off-site.

How was such a bad regulation created?

With the very low-resolution cameras (lower than non-HD TV) that were popular 15 years ago, you could store a significant amount of time on a DVR since the video footage itself was so low quality that it didn't take up as much space. So, storing your footage on removable media was an option. With a 32 channel 1080P system (and most cannabis clients opt for 1.5x or 2x 1080P quality level), you'd need to swap the DVD every 25 minutes, 24-hours-a-day. If you opted for the more popular 4MP cameras (2x 1080P), you couldn't even burn a DVD as fast as you were making the footage. These regulations don't seem to have kept up with the advances to video resolution and, more to the point, the lack of advances to removable media.