I have been advising on and helping implement Digital Evidence Management Systems in Police and Law enforcement agencies since 2003, which was a long time before we even coined the phrase “Digital Evidence Management”.
I find this a very exciting area of work (even though it took me a while to get used to some of the more graphic images) and one that I find genuinely satisfying as I believe our contribution is helping our Public Services and society in general.
Over the years of working with this sector installing the FotoWare Solution it became apparent to me that the were some limitations in the core products. Thankfully we have some excellent APIs and integration points available from FotoWare which has allowed us to develop add-on products which help us build better workflow solutions and that comply with the guidelines and requirements set by government agencies for law enforcement digital evidence.
Our 5 products for Policing:
- Pixel Mobile, a mobile device app for iOS and Android devices which allows secure uploading and viewing of images, audio files, videos and documents. We attach metadata from crime systems and case management systems to prevent re-keying.
- Pixel Desktop, which runs on a laptop or PC allowing police officers to upload large amounts for data securely and in the background so the user doesn’t need to stay logged in or can continue working on other things and not worry about browser timeouts or limitations on the number and size of files.
- PDF+ allows users to create PDF documents from albums created in FotoWeb. The PDF documents can be used for witness statements and other reports for printing on the local printer or emailing securely.
- AVIS – can connect to Digital Interview Recording systems (DIR) but potentially any system which produces digital media that needs to be ingested automatically into the Digital Evidence Management System and transforming any metadata whilst still complying with policies set by the organisation.
- Reakt – allows users to send files to other systems, essential for the processing of files such as blurring faces.
What is most important is that these products work alongside FotoWare to help achieve a great number of benefits to Police and Law enforcement agencies.
Top 8 Benefits for Police and Law Enforcement Agencies
1. Audit Trail and Evidential Master
- All evidential “master files” are stored on secure storage with an audit trail process to prove integrity – original version is “untouchable” using secure storage methods
- Master files can be made available to download by only specified groups of users
- All files have their hash value stored in a secure database from point of upload until they are stored on the server
- All actions on the “working copy” file are logged
- Asset integrity is maintained through check summing to prevent accidental or deliberate tampering that may render them unsuitable as evidence in the court. Integrity is validated before and after upload.
2. Flexible Security and Role-based Access
- Ensure security over sensitive and high-profile case evidence by defining security policies and assigning users to roles that restrict their access to permitted information and operations.
- The administration web portal gives detailed activity logs and enables user and permissions management.
- Integrate with Microsoft Active Directory, Azure AD, and SAML-based Identity and Access Management solutions.
3. Quick and Easy Uploading
- The upload tool allows the user to connect to 3rd party crime management systems to reduce re-keying of information
- User’s have the ability to select media files from different sources such as camera cards, body worn video devices, CD/DVD and external hard drives.
- Lets officers record and ingest digital evidence from body-worn video cameras, DSLRs, police issued secure mobile phones, or any other device in virtually all file formats from terminals in the police station or using police issued mobile devices and secure networks.
- Files are uploaded automatically from Digital Interview Recording (DIR) devices and other such devices which generate media files.
- Upload crime scene images, body worn video, mobile phone reports, fingerprints, mugshot/custody suite images, emergency call recordings, vehicle collision investigation images and more.
- Ability to restrict files to certain groups of users during the upload process
- Upload large amounts of data without the user being required to stay logged in or leave a browser window open. A background service securely transfers the data in the background, allowing the users to log out at the end of their shift or work on something else.
4. Viewing and Playback
- Files are viewable via the user friendly web interface
- If a user has permission they can correct incorrect metadata on multiple files at a time.
- Video playback allows the user to play the video at different speeds, playback 1 frame or 5 frames and adjust brightness / colour settings.
- Video/audio streaming capability – allows the user to skip to various parts of the media file without requiring download
- Playback the video in the web browser without plugins required
- Users can view media files via police issued secure mobile devices (iPhone or android)
5. Annotations and Redactions
- Officers can quickly add or review comments and visual indicators on assets to help identify objects crucial to the investigation.
- Easily blur out faces, license plates, and other sensitive information before evidence is shared with the press.
- Create “albums” and share media to other users and groups in the system.
- Create PDF documents and download for printing. Templates for witness statements, streamline forensic reporting (SFR) and other evidential related reports.
- Send PDF documents of images into case management systems via integrations
7. Flexible Retention Policies
- Configure to follow retention policies, automatically purge evidence that is not connected to a case, set retention policies according to case type, keep evidence for as long as legally required. In the UK police have to adhere to Management of Police Information (MoPI) guidelines for retention rules.
8. Integrations & Audit Trails
- Plugins for Microsoft Office to allow certain users to use media files directly from Word or PowerPoint without the need to download
- Plugins, RESTful API integration into any CMS or 3rd party system
- Ability to integrate with AI systems for automated metadata, video redactions, transcriptions and much more.
- Get detailed audit reports the record everything that has been done to an asset from the moment it entered the system. Reports can be customized to provide the precise level of information needed.
This is a brief insight into the 8 benefits I have identified, there is so much more that can be mentioned. If you would like to know more or have any questions about our policing projects, please contact me via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or Linkedin