Top 5 Giant Leaps in Public Safety Technology and Innovation in 2022
Axon Year in Review: Explore the tech innovations improving public safety and security around the world
Jan 13, 2023
Axon’s mission has always been rooted in the protection of life, truth and justice. We believe that technology is one of our greatest assets for improving safety around the world, and so we continually push the boundaries and expand the limits of what public safety technology can do.
How do we decide where to focus our efforts? Where do our ideas for advancing public safety technology come from? We listen to our customers in law enforcement, fire and EMS, corrections, enterprise, justice and beyond. We hire the best and brightest minds to help tackle the biggest issues we face today and anticipate tomorrow. And we build technology to solve the very real problems and pain points facing public safety and security, and the communities in which they serve, across the globe.
Technology moves fast, and so do we. Here’s a look back at some of the major advancements in public safety technology Axon released in 2022, including new products, new features, new partnerships and new goals to make the world a safer place:
- Giant Leap #5: Building a Content Platform for First Responder Stories and Support
- Giant Leap #4: Evolving Training through Immersive Technology and Wholistic Methods
- Giant Leap #3: Optimizing Digital Evidence Management to be Smarter and More Seamless
- Giant Leap #2: Expanding the Axon Ecosystem for Maximum Integration and Impact
- Giant Leap #1: Reducing Gun-Related Deaths Between Police and the Public
#5: Building a Content Platform for First Responder Stories and Support
First Responders regularly put their lives on the line to serve others. The job can be exhausting, dangerous and often thankless. We believe in the work of public safety and security officers around the world, and we’ve taken several steps in 2022 to provide them with more means of support.
Axon launched the First Responders Network (FRN) streaming platform in 2022. FRN is the world's largest hub dedicated to First Responders, and provides subscribers with unparalleled access to curated stories and original programming all about our public safety heroes.
Subscribers get unique perspectives, exclusive content, and access to LIVE events that honor those who serve. From body-worn camera footage of life-saving events, to footage of search and rescue missions that will have viewers on the edge of their seat, there's something for everyone on FRN.
FRN is available to the public to stream. Our hope is that as viewership grows, more and more individuals will recognize the tremendous work being done by police, fire, EMS, and other first responders everyday — and more individuals will want to join the ranks of one of these honorable professions.
We continued investing in Axon Aid, Axon’s philanthropic arm that provides no-cost resources to first responders and their communities, including financial support for the families of fallen officers, mental health resources to first responders and their loved ones, and emergency response teams to assist communities in crisis.
Check out our latest Axon Aid: Wellness videos, which feature stories and science centered around mental toughness, establishing support systems and building stronger communities.
Our Axon Aid Emergency Response team is fully self-sufficient and equipped with the full suite of Axon public safety technology. Our team is ready to deploy at a moment’s notice to assist public safety agencies pre-crisis or post-crisis. This year, we joined forces with local agencies and the National Fraternal Order of Police to provide support during the Hurricane Ian response.
#4: Advancing Training through Immersive Technology and Wholistic Methods
As the challenges facing modern policing, public safety and security evolve, law enforcement’s approach to training also needs to change. We’ve heard continuously that police officers desire more accessible, enhanced and holistic training opportunities. We’ve worked hard in 2022 to take some giant leaps forward in our training offerings and capabilities.
Virtual Reality Training
Virtual Reality Training has seen some exciting growth in 2022. Axon’s VR team is transforming public safety by making training more accessible, relevant and affordable — with the goal of using new immersive VR technologies to better prepare officers for real-life situations in the field.
Virtual reality is rapidly becoming a game-changing training tool across many industries, which is why in 2022 we announced our acquisition of Foundry 45, a VR studio focused on delivering immersive training modules to large organizations. Ultimately, our goal with virtual reality is better preparing officers for real-life situations.
Phoenix Police Department (AZ) and New Castle County Police Department (DE became the first agencies to deploy one of Axon’s VR offerings, Simulator Training. Simulator Training enables trainees to practice and refine body movement and critical decision-making skills in rapid and dynamic drills designed to increase confidence and accuracy. 81% of participants found that at least one VR training scenario had effectively prepared them to adapt their approach to a call.
Video Evidence Certification
VR Training isn’t our only new training offering. We’ve already discussed the importance and prevalence of video evidence during investigations. Because of this, many officers and experts are being asked to testify in court about digital evidence. To prepare officers for court hearings, Axon now offers several new certification courses around video evidence.
These courses leverage an innovative training environment that provides participants with a live instructor, access to the Axon Investigate software and hands-on experience with real-world video case files.
We also announced a new training conference: TASERCON. This ground-breaking new training conference is public safety training evolved. It features programming for the “whole officer,” including courses on officer wellness, performance and human connection.
Geared toward both educators and decision makers, attendees will experience new tools and technologies, hands-on professional development, certification courses, and raw discussions around the biggest challenges facing public safety today — and tomorrow.
TASERCON 2023 is taking place at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, January 23-26, 2023.
#3: Optimizing Digital Evidence Management to be Smarter and More Seamless
It’s no secret that both new public safety technology has caused an explosion in both the size and quantity of digital evidence.
Today, video cameras are everywhere. One study estimates that there are over 1 billion security cameras worldwide, and that US citizens show up on surveillance video cameras at least 238 times every week.
When an incident occurs, the potential for digital evidence is extremely high. The Axon 2023 Digital Evidence Trends report found that 64% of forensic video specialists have encountered a case with more than 100 video files, and 36% have encountered a case with over 1,000 video files.
All of this digital evidence needs to be stored somewhere, but there are challenges. Digital evidence (especially high-definition video or cellphone extractions) can require significant storage space. Many investigators resort to storing their evidence on multiple platforms, including internal servers, CDs/DVDs, USB sticks, and cloud-based DEMS (Digital Evidence Management Systems).
Digital Evidence Management Systems
More and more public safety agencies are recognizing the benefits of storing everything in a single, secure cloud-based solution. Modern Digital Evidence Management Systems (DEMS) like Axon Evidence enable auto-tagging of evidence, quick and easy search, auto-transcription of audio, redaction, and many more features.
We asked officers what keeps them from saving and storing all evidence inside their DEMS, and they highlighted several common challenges:
- They don’t have enough storage/the cost of storage is too high to store everything in one place
- They lack playback ability for different file types
- Their data upload speed is too slow
We tackled all three of these challenges in 2022. Here are our solutions for public safety:
1) Announced unlimited storage plans for 3rd party evidence
Our new unlimited 3rd party evidence storage plan, along with our Unlimited BWC + Capture plan, allows public safety agencies to store all of their digital evidence in one location without needing to worry about data limits or cost of storage.
This plan allows for predictable budgets and enhanced efficiency --- and keeping everything in one location makes it easier for investigators to search, manage and share.
2) Enhanced 3rd Party Video playback
Countless CCTV cameras record vital evidence around the world, but many of those cameras record file types that can be difficult to play accurately (or even to play at all).
This year, we added many new file formats into our 3rd Party video (3PV) playback capability inside Axon Evidence. Agencies with 3PV can load thousands of different file types into Axon Evidence, where those files will automatically be converted to a standard format file that maintains every single pixel from the original version.
We are continuing to add more format capabilities with each release, so this capability is only getting better. Investigators can easily view or share third-party videos from Axon Evidence.
3) Released Upload XT Version 2
Slow upload speeds can slow officers down, especially when working with large files like cell phone extractions or high-definition video.
We recently released a major update to our original Upload XT software, and the new Upload XT Version 2 offers up to 10x faster upload speeds! Not only that, but the file size limit has grown nearly 4x, from 400GB to 1.5TB. Want to migrate lots of different files? Investigators can also maintain their folder structure inside of cases when data is uploaded through Upload XT Version 2.
Outside of our Axon Evidence developments, we also launched a new product called Axon Investigate (formerly known as iNPUT-ACE) to provide another solution to a common public safety challenge.
In the past, video evidence was primarily handled by forensic specialists. While forensic experts will always play an important role in video-centric investigations, the overwhelming amount of evidence means that more and more officers are reviewing video. In fact, the digital evidence trends survey found that 86% of officers are viewing video and 76% of cases include video evidence.
With the massive amount of digital evidence captured each day, officers and attorneys need a means to properly playback more video files without risk of altering the original file. Axon Investigate was built by a team of certified forensic video analysts to provide investigators with a means to view and share accurate digital evidence that is ready for court.
Axon Investigate Pro provides additional, advanced features ideal for forensic experts or investigators who must testify in court about video, and the number of public safety officers who are being asked to testify is also growing. Our trends survey found that 72% of officers, investigators and forensic video specialists have testified in court about digital evidence.
#2: Expanding the Axon Ecosystem for Maximum Integration and Impact
Our customers leverage a wide variety of public safety technology, and they often express how important it is that our technology works well with other vendors.
We refer to the suite of connected Axon devices, software, services and integrated partners as the Axon Ecosystem. By weaving together these solutions, we expand the capability of each — and provide public safety professionals with more of the tools and resources they need to protect communities, capture truth and accelerate justice.
We expanded the Axon partner network in 2022 to include several new Axon integrated partners.
REAL-TIME OPERATIONS AND SITUATIONAL AWARENESS
A crisis can unfold in an instant. When events occur where each second is critical to save lives, law enforcement officers need a way to get eyes in the field faster.
Our Axon Respond platform is an innovative solution for providing situational awareness. Originally created to allow live streaming of Axon cameras, we’ve expanded the platform in 2022 to include critical data and video feeds from several of our key technology partners.
We partnered with and invested in Fūsus, the U.S. market leader in real-time crime center solutions for public safety. This partnership makes it easier and more cost-effective for communities to aggregate live feeds from public and private video sources (such as CCTV cameras), and aggregate other key data and signals such as gunshot detections. This rich data provides law enforcement and public safety teams with real-time insights and context about developing situations in the field.
We also launched an Axon Respond integration with RapidSOS, which enables 911 operators that use the RapidSOS Jurisdiction View software platform to see live locations and view live-stream video of first responders equipped with Axon Body 3 (AB3) cameras.
RapidSOS technology also powers Axon’s recently launched consumer-focused personal safety smart phone app, Axon Protect.
DRONES AS PUBLIC SAFETY TECHNOLOGY
Many public safety agencies are turning to drone programs to improve response times and increase visibility.
To enhance our drone offerings, in May we announced livestreaming from Skydio drones into our Axon Respond platform. The integration with Axon Respond will enable command staff and 911 dispatchers to combine the live-streaming capabilities of Axon body-worn and in-car cameras with the aerial perspective of Skydio drones to provide a more comprehensive operational picture. In addition, Skydio drone-captured imagery lives alongside corresponding body-worn camera video in Axon’s digital evidence management platform,Axon Evidence.
In 2023, we strengthened our partnership with Dedrone, the market leader in smart airspace security, to protect against unauthorized drone threats.
In addition, Axon, in partnership with Dronesense, announced the launch of Axon Air Remote. This breakthrough Drone as a First Responder (DFR) technology allows public safety agencies to remotely operate and deploy drones in emergencies, giving first responders a real-time view of what’s happening before they arrive at the scene resulting in faster response times, improved tactical decision-making and cost savings.
There is a lot of excitement about this development in public safety technology. As Chief Gary Berg, Campbell PD said, “Drone as First Responder is the future of law enforcement.”
Axon is an authorized re-seller of DJI, Skydio and Fotokite drones, and we are compatible with other common drones used in public safety, including Parrot and Autel.
ALPR (Automatic License Plate Recognition) is an essential piece of public safety technology.
The Axon Fleet 3 is our latest in-car video camera and an industry-leading piece of ALPR technology. It provides eight times more plate reads than traditional systems, and this year, we tested the ALPR capabilities on Ferraris driving at 135 MPH!
We have also partnered with Flock Safety to provide a wider range of ALPR capabilities. Flock' Safety's license plate reading cameras provide 24/7 monitoring for homes, businesses, neighborhoods and cities. Public safety officers can now centralize Flock ALPR data into Axon Evidence with a single click. This means law enforcement users can store and manage all plate read records (from Fleet 3 or Flock) and other relevant evidence in one central place.
With this dynamic network of plate reading cameras, law enforcement officers can focus their efforts on finding offenders and protecting the community.
#1: Reducing Gun-Related Deaths Between Police and the Public
One of the biggest challenges facing public safety today is a lack of trust between police and the public. This is a complicated issue to address, and it requires a wholistic approach. We’ve taken several steps this year towards achieving this goal.
Never Miss a Moment
The agencies we have spoken to believe capturing and protecting truth are key to building trust. In fact, 85% of command staff said they saw improved trust with the public because of body-worn cameras.
To help agencies and communities ensure that critical moments are always captured and stored, we introduced the Never Miss a Moment framework.
There are 4 key components to this framework:
- Reliable cameras
- Proper policy
- Compliance safeguards
This “fallback” feature is called Video Recall. This is a camera setting for AB3 cameras that allows agencies to recover a recording that was never actually “recorded,” a moment that otherwise would have been lost forever. This feature works while still providing careful controls (the feature must be turned on), permissions and strict privacy protection for agencies, officers and the public.
Priority Ranked Video Audit (PRVA)
Capturing truth is important, but so is the ability to efficiently review interactions between police and the public.
We released Priority Ranked Video Audit (PRVA) to all Axon Performance customers, which analyzes, scores and ranks BWC videos by transcript keywords and TASER/Signal Sidearm events so that supervisors can quickly identify high-value videos for review. PRVA allows supervisors to utilize their time more effectively and with more impact.
Community engagement and listening to the public is another important part of building trust. We continued development of My90, a 2021 acquisition and new solution that enables agencies to bridge the gap between police leadership, officers and the communities they serve.
"My90 is a great way to engage with our community to better understand how the public feels about interactions with our agency. Since deploying a trial of My90, we have collected over 3,000 responses in just over 2 months. We have the opportunity to review these results to gain valuable feedback on an ongoing basis from people we have just served." -Chief Kevin Davis, Fairfax County Police Department
Our most ambitious “launch” this year was our moonshot goal. Earlier this year, we announced a goal to cut gun-related deaths between police and the public by 50% in 10 years. We know this won’t be easy, and we know we can’t do it alone. But we are ready to work with agencies, communities, governments and the public at large around the globe to develop research-based, responsible solutions to cut gun-related deaths between police and the public in half by 2033.
“Through a shared commitment to research, dialogue, innovation and implementation, we believe we can become greater than the sum of our parts to protect life. This is not Axon's moonshot. This is our moonshot.” - Rick Smith, Axon CEO and Founder
This moonshot will require strategic investments from our team in the technology, training and data that will help achieve better outcomes and deepen trust between law enforcement and the communities they protect and serve.
The Axon product roadmap for the coming years includes accelerated advancements in non-lethal and de-escalation tools and training, next-generation cameras and evidence capture devices, real-time response and communications tools, community impact, engagement and feedback solutions, and more comprehensive and actionable use-of-force and response-to-resistance reporting.
We are ready to step into a safer future — and input from public safety officers during this process will be critical. To get involved with the moonshot, visit the website at thisisourmoonshot.com.
Looking Ahead to 2023
A lot can happen in one year, and while we are proud of the advancements we made in 2022, we know the work is not finished.
We’re not slowing down. We will continue to relentlessly pursue our mission to Protect Life by developing and releasing industry-leading public safety technology.
Got feedback for us? We would love to hear from you. Use the contact form below to share insights, concerns or ideas you have for advancing technology to help us fulfill our mission to protect life.
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