Setting a high bar for equitable public evidence submission with the Open Request Portal API
The ethical design parameters for Axon Community Request considers:
- The balance between the need for public transparency and the right to privacy
- The need to enable public safety to gather evidence to solve violent crimes swiftly, with the need to prevent erroneous or biased evidence submissions, and
- The need to ensure the integrity of evidence, complying with government chain of custody protocols.
Historically, there hasn't been a way for public evidence submissions of private camera footage that fully meets these ethical design parameters. Whether public safety officers physically knock on doors, asking if a member of the public has evidence related to a specific local crime, or another independent digital submission tool is being used, both the community member and the officer would have to download and re-upload this evidence before it eventually makes its way into the official digital evidence management system where the agency manages its cases. This process not only costs detectives time, but also can break the chain of custody on the evidence, creating questions about its integrity. In addition, the process as it currently exists is not auditable every step of the way.
To modernize the current approach, Axon Community Request introduces a new, open and secure application programming interface (API) that offers a more seamless, neutral and secure platform for requesting and obtaining public camera footage.
We are calling this API the Open Request Portal.This vendor-agnostic tool is an auditable two-way service, enabling law enforcement agencies to transparently request and receive evidence directly from members of a community in close-proximity to an active investigation. From the community member side, the service enables community members to opt in at their sole discretion, while also creating reasonable privacy protections and transparency about how the footage will be used.
Open Request Portal:
- Standardizes access to public safety, setting stringent security criteria for providers: Axon now enables any camera provider to adopt our APIs, on the condition that the third party adopts and agrees to stringent security criteria. Providers that plug into the Axon Community Request service solve the integrity challenges caused by downloading and re-uploading private footage.*
- Builds transparency controls into the software: The software tracks request data in a public portal, so that it’s apparent to community users which law enforcement agencies are submitting requests for evidence. Tracked data includes the details of those requests at a macro-level (naming the type of crime investigation, for instance, but guarding private data) and the agency-specific policies related to collecting evidence from the public.
- Discouraging arbitrary or “tattle-tale” use: This software does not accept arbitrary submissions of videos from the public. Axon Community Request and the Open Request Portal are designed to support specific, ongoing investigations. Members of the public cannot proactively share videos through this software without a corresponding request from law enforcement for a specific incident.
Overall, Axon is dedicated to ensuring that our products and services are used to improve public safety, while also protecting the privacy and security of individuals. Axon Citizen has helped us achieve these goals for five years, and we're excited to innovate forward with Axon Community Request.
Through our commitment to ethical product design, that centers on innovation, equity, transparency, data privacy and security, we are proud to be leading the way in the development of responsible technologies that help make our communities safer.