Looking Beyond Body-Worn Camera Hardware: Considerations for Developing a Complete Unified Evidence Management Solution

Last month, the Department of Justice announced that it has awarded grants totaling more than $23.2 million across 32 states to expand the use of body-worn camera (BWC) solutions among law enforcement. This investment is part of President Obama’s commitment to building trust between officers and the communities they serve. Body-worn cameras are quickly becoming a standard among law enforcement as agencies all over the country begin to research and deploy their solutions.

When selecting a BWC solution, the hardware is usually the first item considered. While the hardware is certainly an essential element, the number one thing agencies should be evaluating is their entire video evidence management solution and how best to integrate BWC technology. Video file storage will be your biggest expense over the long term, making it crucial to find an evidence management solution that will work best for your agency while helping to reduce overall costs. Here are a few questions you should be asking:

  1. How do you want to securely store your video files? Each body-worn camera creates roughly 1 GB of new data for every hour of video shot. Consider the number of hours worked by each officer at your agency, as well as the video coming from fixed security and in-car systems can add up quickly. For an agency deploying new body-worn camera hardware, most of the long-term costs will actually be related to data storage and not the hardware itself. Policies around storage will depend on your department’s specific retention policies. These policies ensure video evidence is available when you need it, while also ensuring that officers are protected, laws are followed and privacy concerns are addressed. Once you determine these policies, you should then decide which type of storage will work best: 100% cloud, 100% premises-based storage or a hybrid of both local servers and cloud storage.
  2. How can you make the process more efficient for your officers? Many agencies are deploying body-worn camera systems along with existing fixed security and in-car video capture solutions. It is important to find a system that is compatible with your existing video evidence platforms. Multiple, standalone systems are more costly to deploy and maintain creating headaches like increased training requirements, increased IT support for software updates, separate maintenance agreements, etc. An integrated file management system that comprehensively manages digital evidence from all sources will save valuable time and money.
  3. What policies does your agency require when it comes to storing and transferring data? Once you determine how your agency will capture, manage and store data, you also need to consider how video evidence files will be transferred each day. Offloading large HD video data can be cumbersome for officers and IT managers, taking away valuable time in the field. Poor design can also lead to a high-risk of loss of valuable data. In order to ensure chain of evidence is preserved and policies are followed, it is important to select a manageable video platform. This will largely depend on your choice of body-worn hardware. Some systems use docking stations and others may use built-in Wi-Fi. Whichever solution you choose, data security should be a top consideration so video files can be encrypted and secured in transit to prevent hackers from accessing sensitive data.

For more information on Panasonic’s Arbitrator BWC and Unified Evidence Management System visit, http://info.panasonic.com/Arbitrator_BWC_Launch.html.