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In our last blog – Part One: The Coming of Enterprise Video Content Management – we introduced the concept and factors driving Enterprise Video Content Management (EVCM) systems. Now let’s explore an off-shoot of the concept of EVCM: the field of Digital Evidence Management (DEM).
Focused principally in the criminal justice field, DEM embraces all the concepts of EVCM and expands it with enhanced functionality specific to law enforcement. As an example, DEM will include a chain of custody workflow to ensure admissibility of evidence. Driving the current focus on DEM is the explosion of interest in body worn cameras. In the wake of the Ferguson and Baltimore riots, a growing number of agencies have begun to seriously look at deploying body worn cameras to their departments. In an attempt to build community confidence and ensure accountability for police conduct, agencies are looking to body cameras to provide documentary evidence of police operations.
An unintended consequence of body worn cameras as a new data gathering tool is the creation of large repositories of data relating to potential criminal cases. Moreover, the data collected – since it is not related to a fixed location but rather to an event or incident from a mobile camera – requires a new way to catalog and store the data. This phenomenon has been a huge impetus in getting organizations to think about the bigger concept of content management for their video data.
The initial awareness of the data from these new body worn camera systems has driven a refined focus on the overall management of other digital data sources throughout policing and criminal justice IT ecosystems. These digital inputs come from a variety of sources, including other camera systems: in-car cameras, interrogation room cameras, fixed cameras on the street, and license plate recognition systems just to name a few. In addition to those inputs from cameras are inputs form other digital systems: data from Computer Aided Dispatch systems relating to an event or incident – along with attendant digital audio files for calls for service and radio traffic – can be incorporated in DEM platforms. Digital Records Management Systems (RMS) can also be linked to ensure that reports relevant to an incident are readily available for use.
Adding yet another layer of complexity to law enforcement DEM is the growing need for police organizations to ingest external digital data. As we have seen post-Boston Marathon bombing, digital inputs from private camera feeds, photographs or video from smartphones and tablets, and social media data are growing in value to police investigations. As Next Generation 911 becomes a reality, increasing amounts of external digital data will become part of police records.
In short, the body worn camera revolution is awakening law enforcement administrators to both the possibility and the need to harmonize a number of digital systems based on content. In the criminal justice field – where failure to provide responsive data can result in dismissed criminal cases – managing by content is imperative. Aggregating data across digital platforms – whether they are cameras or CAD or RMS or another source – is an essential function for an effective and efficient operation.
The lessons learned for DEM regarding the need to develop and utilize systems based on content apply equally to the EVCM world. Moreover, they open a horizon beyond mere video content management to a larger scope of harmonizing all digital input streams. The DEM experience provides an example for how to navigate the digital world. End users interested in EVCM should look to the experiences of governmental agencies as they wrestle with DEM. The integration challenges across video systems with other operational digital platforms are complex tasks, but promise a much more responsive and valuable system in the end.
Stay tuned for part three of this EVCM series. In the meantime, please contact SDI to learn more about how we can assist you with building your enterprise video content library.
Mr. Zoufal has held a series of high level public sector safety and security posts including Deputy Commissioner for Safety and Security for the City of Chicago’s Department of Aviation, where he supervised security operations at O’Hare and Midway International Airports. Mr. Zoufal also served as Special Assistant to the Director of Illinois Emergency Management Agency/Acting Homeland Security Director for the State of Illinois; and as First Deputy (second in command) for the City of Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC), the agency of City government primarily responsible for homeland security planning and response. Additionally, he served as General counsel to the Chicago Police Department and Chief Legal Counsel for the Illinois Department of Corrections.