How Agencies Can Look Beyond Evidence Storage to Choose a Network That Supports Automation and Smarter Policing
Let’s talk about what you really buy when you buy body cameras. In a sense, agencies who adopt this relatively new technology are not just purchasing new devices for their officers, but putting a down payment on the technological futures of their agencies. Whatever comes next, day-to-day operations will never be quite the same for an agency that has just welcomed untold terabytes' worth of new kinds of evidence into their lives. New administrative tasks will need to be performed by officers, new kinds of collaboration with prosecutors will occur, and the day-to-day business of policing will certainly undergo a shift, as will the performance metrics by which effective policing is judged.
For the departments, however, this period of change can be a tremendous opportunity—a chance to automate workflows, reduce paperwork, and adopt an interoperable platform that will help to define an era of smarter policing.
To reap the benefits of this new technology, however, agencies must be sure that they are choosing the right platform. It is not enough to adopt a cloud storage system for body camera video and audio. A full digital evidence management platform must encompass not just cameras, apps, and services (like Evidence.com’s 24/7 365 customer support) but must connect these technologies to each other and to other systems like CAD/RMS databases. This connectivity will redefine the way that officers interact with devices and apps on a day-to-day basis.
Anyone who presents a cloud solution primarily as a simple method for storage, rather than a tool for automation, runs the risk of diluting the value of the digital evidence revolution being brought on by the use of body cameras and other technologies. By contrast, a more robust digital evidence management platform can save time and money by integrating body camera footage into a larger, more efficient, more automated workflow.
But what approach should an agency take when choosing a platform? Here are three things to consider:
1. Think Long Term
If the current rate of change in public safety technology (which has seen an influx of new innovations from body cameras to mobile apps in the last few years) is any indication, things may be very different in only a few years’ time. Your technology needs to reflect that fact by being adaptable and suited to ever-newer ways of doing business. Think of your platform as the most meaningful investment you can make in the long term success of your agency. As an example, Axon’s prediction for the next few years is that the process of doing paperwork by hand will begin to disappear from the world of law enforcement, along with many other tedious manual tasks—will the solution you opt for serve you well in this sort of environment?
The Axon network is already taking specific strides to ensure that all forms of digital evidence can be seamlessly worked into automated workflows. Photos, body camera video, interview room video, CCTV footage and other forms of digital evidence are already integrated into one future-proof, cloud-hosted database where they can be appropriately tagged, notated, and managed. Users’ data no longer run the risk of becoming obsolete or incompatible when new computers and new technology come along, not to mention the ease with which they can be integrated with 3rd party software from CAD/RMS systems to on-demand transcription services.
In the same vein, the Axon network comes with automated video redaction tools, which save time and money when it comes to responding to FOIA requests—an important performance metric for a task that is likely to become more common as body-worn video proliferates. A platform that cannot offer this kind of automation or the interoperability showcased above will fail to meet an agency’s rapidly evolving case management needs. In this regard, not all cloud solutions are created equal.