Axon Investigate 4.0 has arrived, and there are several new and exciting features that we will explore in this article.
If you don’t know much about Axon Investigate, it is a powerful on-premises video evidence processing platform. Video is the most prolific source of evidence available to investigators today, but thousands of proprietary video file types can create challenges and delay investigations when played incorrectly. Axon Investigate protects truth by providing an intuitive interface that unlocks the power of video evidence in an efficient, forensically-sound manner.
Axon Investigate 4.0 introduced several new key features that will help transform the way video is investigated and presented in court. The first new feature is a direct connection with Axon Evidence that further integrates Axon Investigate within the overall Axon ecosystem. This connection will make video processing faster and easier for the investigator, while maintaining the integrity of evidence.
Additional key features include the ability to visualize stationary and moving camera locations on a map, the ability to generate a court package to take your evidence confidently into the courtroom, a sensitive content warning, improvements to the Multi-Camera Canvas tool, and several new languages.
In this article, we’ll explore each of those features so that you can get started using them in the new Axon Investigate 4.0.
Bridge to Axon Evidence (Download/Upload)
Note: This feature is only available to customers logging in with Axon credentials and multi-factor authentication.
Axon Investigate is part of the wider Axon ecosystem, a suite of connected devices, services and strategic partners. This new bridge with Axon Evidence will make it easier and faster to download and upload digital evidence into the cloud. Here are two quick scenarios:
First, imagine you were sent a folder on Axon Evidence with all the digital evidence related to your case. You can now easily download those files directly into Axon Investigate where you can sync different clips, correct timing, build a canvas of multiple camera feeds, stitch files together, and put together a court-ready presentation. Once you’re finished working on the case, you can then re-upload everything back into Axon Evidence so that it is saved in the cloud and shareable around the agency.
Second, imagine you just received a hard drive that is full of CCTV footage. Instead of uploading 24 hours’ worth of footage, you can drag everything into Axon Investigate, quickly view and identify the key pieces of evidence, and then upload your project and the relevant files into Axon Evidence. Max file sizes can be 1.5 terabytes and upload speeds are fast – saving you time and simplifying your workflow.
How to download files from Axon Evidence into Axon Investigate
The Axon Investigate 4.0 release includes a new “Case Files” tab located alongside the “Project Files” tab. Selecting the Case Files tab will launch the universal authentication login screen, requiring agency domain credentials. Once authenticated, you will see all the Cases you have access to in Axon Evidence. Click the case you want and then click “Select” at the bottom to load the Case.
The selected Case will display the same folder structure that also exists inside Axon Evidence. Users can select the entire folder or individual files to import into Axon Investigate.
A file dialog will open to allow users to designate where the files will save locally. This is a working copy of the original evidence that must be processed locally to ensure proper playback.
Users can save imported evidence to the system’s scratch disk, but when Axon Investigate is closed, this scratch disk location will be cleared. Relaunching any saved projects containing imported evidence would require re-importing the evidence. Alternatively, evidence saved to another folder or local drive will not be cleared when you shut down the application.
Any folders or files selected for import will be present in the “Project Files” list with a download icon. The files can still be played during the process of importing/downloading. You will see a notification on the timeline indicating that the video is streaming. While streaming, navigation controls will be limited to forward playback and forward scrubbing. Once the file is completely downloaded and available locally, full navigation controls and capability will be available.
How to Upload files from Axon Investigate into Axon Evidence
You can re-upload files you have downloaded from Axon Evidence, or you can upload entirely new video evidence files. While files are in Axon Investigate, you can continue with normal processing of video evidence: make additional markers or clips, add or edit metadata, create demonstratives, etc.
When ready to upload, select all files (derivative or original), right click to open the “More Actions” menu and select “Upload to Evidence.com.”
A dialog will appear to confirm the file selection for upload. Expand the “Options” section if you want to upload the items into a specific case or folder or if you want to assign a category. If a case or folder is not designated, the selected files will upload into your “Evidence Display” page.
Any files sourced via download from Axon Evidence will include metadata in the “Tags” tab under “Info & Settings.” If any transcripts or certificates were created in Axon Evidence prior to importing to Axon Investigate, these will be included and visible within the Axon Investigate interface.
Mapping Your Evidence – Two Different Methods
With Axon Investigate 4.0, you can visualize stationary and moving camera locations on a map with coordinate information, providing helpful context as you build your case around multiple cameras, locations and moving people.
Placing the location and direction of cameras on the map will make it easier for you as an Investigator to track suspects, motion and activity across multiple locations. In addition, this can be a very useful tool for building demonstratives for court, giving juries and the trier of fact a helpful visual.
There are two different methods for mapping your evidence on Axon Investigate. Here’s how you can use them both:
Project Map - Interrogate Tab
While working in the “Interrogate” tab, map views are available from both the “Info & Settings Location” tab and via the map/pin icon that opens a side drawer view of the map. These maps and data are the same and update between the two views. The side drawer view can remain open and visible during processing, while the “Location” tab is accessible only while in the tab.
Video files with GPS data in the file will display the latitude/longitude for the first frame of the file. Files without GPS data require camera pins to be set manually.
Use the “Search Box” to find an address or landmark, or you can use the mouse wheel to zoom in and navigate the world map for the precise location. A camera pin can be placed on the map at any location, with the location name provided and the latitude/longitude displayed. The location info will update every time you move pin positions, and it can be deleted or reset at any time.
To move the camera pins, you can double click on a different map location or manually update the latitude/longitude. For moving pins based on GPS, use the “Project Map” tool.
The “Reset to Original” button will either restore the GPS file coordinates to their original detected coordinates or clear the coordinate fields on files without GPS data.
A camera pin will display the number of video and audio streams as a fraction, with the numerator as the number of video streams and the denominator as the number of audio streams. The hover text on the camera pin will list the stream names of all video and audio on the camera pin.
Project Map – Tool
The “Project Map” tool (available in the navigation pane) will open a dynamic map experience. With this tool, you can drag multiple videos onto a world map. This feature is ideal for comprehending the complexities of large scale and large area investigations. Track a person of interest over multiple blocks or miles by visualizing all stationary and moving cameras to better create a path of travel or event reconstruction.
Files without date and time information will prompt a notification to set the date and time. Files with GPS will automatically place camera pins, and in the Project Map tool, the GPS data will automatically move a map pin’s location throughout playback.
Fixed or stationary cameras without GPS info will need their location set manually. Users can move, delete, or change the colors of camera pins for better categorization.
Every file input will have its own timeline row that displays the date and time associated with each camera. Click on a camera pin or a row in the timeline and watch the video playback associated with the camera selected.
The location name, address, latitude/longitude, and camera can be saved within the Axon Investigate project file.
Note: Saving map information within Investigate projects is not available for offline users.
The new court package is truly a gamechanger for officers, investigators and attorneys who present on video evidence in court.
Historically, there have been many limitations and challenges when preparing digital evidence for courtroom testimony:
Many courtrooms are not equipped with high internet speeds, which creates real challenges when attempting to stream video.
All digital evidence is required to be available to prosecution and defense in a playable format, which often requires the conversion of all proprietary evidence, or you must download the proprietary players onto court computers.
Depending on the conversion tool or proprietary player, this could alter the video and cause more challenges.
Hardware available for display purposes can also cause technological challenges – you may or may not be able to use your own device, or you may need to bring everything in on a thumb drive.
The new court package feature allows you to package your entire story, with all the video evidence from a wide variety of sources, together into a single bundled file. This file can be shared, opened and played on any PC computer – no license or internet required.
This court package can be provided to the court for discovery and trial preparation or used during the actual trial. The package includes a standalone version of the Axon Investigate platform and includes all media, codecs, navigation tools, evidence details and presentation mode. The court package will reliably play back original evidence, display metadata, present reports and show demonstratives.
To create a court package, start by building a project like normal with the original evidence, derivative evidence, metadata, notes, reports and more.
When you’re ready to create a court package, save your project. Then, navigate to the “Project Actions” tab and select “Create Court Package.” The user will be asked if they want to include only selected items from the “Project Files” list or the entire “Project Files” list contents, and if the export format should be folder-based or a .zip file.
The Axon Investigate Court executable automatically opens an Investigate project file, complete with the original media and formats needed to play proprietary multimedia. Any files that include Axon Evidence generated transcripts, certificates and metadata will also be available within the court package. This court package can be shared via the cloud through Axon Evidence, or through physical media like a USB thumb drive.
We now provide a content warning that can be applied to any file deemed sensitive or containing disturbing information. This warning will block automatic playback and hover previews. The warning will also be applied to any derivative evidence (markers and clips) that has been sourced from a parent file with the content warning turned on. Additionally, if files imported from Axon Evidence contain a content warning, the warning will be adopted within the Investigate interface and the same behaviors will exist.
The user will need to click the “Show Evidence” control to activate playback, helping to ensure no one accidentally views disturbing evidence. This warning will only show on the first interrogation of the file per application instance.
To leverage the content warning, select the file(s) to apply this warning message and right click the file (or select “More Actions”). Select “Info & Settings” and check the “Show Content Warning” box in the first tab.
Multi-Camera Canvas Node Improvements
The Multi-Camera Canvas Node allows investigators to bring multiple video clips from different sources together to play at the same time and next to each other. We have made several major improvements to this process:
Use the “Padding” slider inside the “Multi-cam Canvas Settings” to increase the padding between tiles. You can also lock the canvas to increase or decrease the size of the entire canvas space, without affecting the input tile layout.
You can now scale inputs, which will automatically match all inputs to the size of the largest input file size. This eliminates the need to manually resize each input prior to adding them to the Multi-cam Canvas node
The Multi-cam Canvas now allows for the input of still images alongside video inputs. This feature is often used for comparison purposes, such as before and after clarifications.
Selecting the “Align Times” checkbox will align all inputs with date and time, thereby automatically syncing playback of the input files.
File inputs no longer need to be the same length to playback properly. Users can select “Null Video Playback” to display black frames or held frames during the time that video is no longer playing in the tile space.
New Formats and Localization
Our team continues to add new formats to Axon Investigate with every new release, helping us to maintain our position as the industry leader in the number of formats we can play, analyze, and process. Axon Investigate 4.0 now has format support for Avigilon .AVE, ExacqVision .EXE multi-stream formats, Digital Watch Dog .PSF, New Timespace .XBA, and improvements to many others including .DCR, .CAR, .DVT and more. We are also pleased to announce that Axon Investigate is now available for use in various languages, including English (both US and UK), Bulgarian, Czech, Dutch, French (both FR and CA), German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish and Swedish.
For additional support regarding Axon Investigate, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and provide details about your workflow, licensing questions, or feature requests. For more information about Axon Investigate, contact your Axon representative.