BWCs can significantly improve how evidence is collected by recording the visual and audio actions
For police, BWCs can significantly improve
how
evidence is collected by recording the
visual
and audio actions
Body worn cameras (BWCs) are becoming common place in law enforcement. While the spotlight for body cameras is on police in the news, BWCs are also sought after in security-related contracts for airports, campuses, correctional facilities and for private security.

It’s quite likely interactions with police or security guards will be recorded (people who record video on mobile devices and the presence of video security cameras) and most police feel it’s best to own the recordings. Roy L. Austin, Jr., Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Dept. of Justice said in a recent Police Executive Research Forum research paper, “Everyone around you is going to have a camera, and so everyone else is going to be able to tell the story better than you if you don’t have these cameras.”

For police, BWCs can significantly improve how evidence is collected by recording the visual and audio actions; the captured recordings can provide essential evidentiary documentation for investigations and court proceedings. The challenge now is to develop a cost-effective, chain of custody system to properly collect, store and access video footage. Onvia has a large database of procurement activity and spending plans from more than 80,000 U.S. entities. Recent bid & RFP opportunities in found in Onvia’s Project Centre reflect these rising concerns and private security firms should take note of how agencies are detailing the handling, storage and controlled access of BWC video footage – and the cost.

Cloud storage

Many agencies that have already purchased BWCs and rely on older infrastructure & servers now seek ways to efficiently streamline the process while keeping costs down

Cloud-based solutions are becoming popular as a way to store large amounts of video. Cloud-based options can save on internal data storage costs and departmental staff. The right cloud based solution can also offer a high level of security, needed redundancy and natural disaster risk mitigation. Open bids found in Onvia’s Project Centre include specific requests for cloud-based solutions as well bids that will accept proposals for cloud or locally hosted systems. One example is the City of Hoover in Alabama that is looking specifically for a cloud-based storage solution with chain of custody tracking and auditability. The bid issued in April 2015 is for BWCs, an evidence transfer module and a secure hosted cloud-based evidence data management and storage services.

Considerations and specifications for body camera video footage:

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Leading vendors and solutions

Recently awarded contracts include BWCs and storage solutions. In one example the City of Tampa in Florida awarded a one-year contract in January 2015 with four possible extensions worth $83,845 to TASER International, Inc. to provide an integrated BWC and digital evidence management system including 60 TASER Axon Flex BWCs and Evidence.Com online storage services to store, manage, retrieve and share the captured digital video.

Many agencies that have already purchased BWCs and rely on older infrastructure & servers now seek ways to efficiently streamline the process while keeping costs down. Agencies and private firms that hire security guards and services with BWC requirements may begin to seek the same efficiencies in regards to security guard footage.

Some BWC manufacturers provide add-on software and services to provide an “all-in-one” storage solution. For example, TASER provides digital evidence management software (DEMS) and storage; Digital Alley provides software solutions and a cloud storage option; Wolfcom and L3 Mobile-Vision Inc. provide proprietary digital evidence management. Others vendors form partnerships like VIEVU with Microsoft Azure Cloud and encourage buyers of VIEVU BWCs to upgrade to Azure. Vendors like QueTel Corporation and VeriPic (also a partner with VIEVU) specialise in offering evidence management and storage support, not the cameras.

Beyond the initial purchase of BWCs, choosing the right software management and data storage solution are extremely important considerations

Example of multi-vendor BWC and DEMS implementations include:

The City of Bellevue in Washington:

Has VIEVU BWCs, awarded QueTel $182,885 in February 2015 for hardware, software, consulting, configuration and programming services for the installation of a physical and digital evidence management system.

The City of Modesto in California:

Has Taser BWCs, awarded VeriPic with a one-year contract ending in April 2015 that included a $5,874.88 purchase order for web-based project management, core server software and DEMS.

Looking ahead to the future

As agencies plan for future purchases for police officers and other security guards, specifications for cost-effective software management and secure storage will be considered. Onvia’s Spending Forecast Center provides access to capital improvement plans & agency budgets and reveal examples of how agencies plan to allocate funds including:

The City of Santa Rosa in California:

FY 2014-15 Operations & Maintenance Budget includes $335,715 to purchase BWCs and storage solution for the increasing amount of digital evidence the department collects and stores.

City of Dubuque in Mississippi:

Recommended FY 2016-2020 Capital Improvement Program includes $60,318 for the cameras and video storage. The City Manager writes that BWCs provide objective documentation, aid in accountability and mitigate liability.

The importance of police officers wearing BWCs seems to increase daily. Contractors will want to follow the procurement trends in law enforcement as agencies and private security firms seek to utilise BWCs anywhere security is required. Onvia confirms that there is an increasing number of opportunities for vendors of BWCs and the related services and solutions: Beyond the initial purchase of BWCs, choosing the right software management and data storage solution are extremely important considerations.

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Kelsey Voss Sr. Marketing Manager, Onvia

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