Going digital is a daunting task, especially when there are large amounts of sensitive evidence files at stake. In one simple line, a decent digital evidence management system or digital evidence tracking software should make that transition as easy and secure as possible. But that’s easier said than done. There’s a lot of nuance to the digital transformation of an evidence management system.
Of course, law enforcement agencies know exactly what they want or should expect from their digital evidence management software of choice. However, at the same time, there are so many things that a decent digital evidence management system is capable of that most law enforcement agents don’t even know about. At the end of the day, the goal is to increase the mobility of the police officers and ensure that they spend more time out in the field than on their desks. Let’s take a look at some of the most fundamental capabilities you should expect from a digital evidence management system.
The current problem with digital evidence is that it lives in silos, which hinders analysis and investigations where data across multiple systems is involved. That’s why law enforcement agencies need a digital evidence tracking software that integrates with other police systems like records management systems (RMS) and computer-aided dispatch (CAD), to name a couple. This allows investigators to organize data according to cases and access all related information from a single, centralized repository.
VIDIZMO Digital Evidence Management System (DEMS) seamlessly integrates with law enforcement’s existing IT solutions and allows for smooth interoperability.
Considering that police officers handle sensitive evidence files, they need storage that offers better security and accessibility than thumb drives and CDs. Cloud storage seems like the obvious choice here, but law enforcement agents can be paranoid about shared storage spaces. Therefore, any digital evidence tracking software worth its salt should offer a flexible deployment model.
VIDIZMO offers deployment for the DEMS in a commercial or government cloud, as a SaaS model, or on the customer’s own private cloud. Plus, DEMS is also deployed in an on-premise data center, if that’s what they prefer. But that’s not all. Law enforcement agencies can choose to deploy DEMS in a hybrid model, where some components can be deployed on-premise with others on the cloud. For example, they can choose to store the evidence files in local servers and leverage the artificial intelligence capabilities on the cloud.
Arguably the most important part of a digital evidence management system is to increase mobility for the officers and allow them to spend time out on the field rather than on their desks, logging, managing and copying evidence. That’s why, it’s essential that the system be accessible and manageable on any device and on any network, so that officers can capture and upload evidence files on the go, from their smartphones or laptops.
VIDIZMO DEMS is a browser-based solution, built on HTML5 and uses adaptive bitrate streaming to allow access and playback across any device on any network.
Source Agnostic Digital Evidence Collection
Most of the digital evidence currently comes from the saturation of body-worn cameras and in-car cameras that police officers are equipped with. Therefore, it goes without saying that a digital evidence management system that can’t ingest and host evidence files from these sources completely defeats the purpose. A decent digital evidence tracking software should store and playback all video file types, including proprietary video formats.
VIDIZMO integrates with all digital evidence collection tools and systems to ingest all kinds of evidence, including surveillance footage, interview room footage, as well as phone call recordings.
Easy Evidence Sharing
Currently, police officers share digital evidence with the prosecutors and the DA office by copying the evidence files on to local drives, like DVDs or thumb drives, and delivering them personally. This practice is needlessly time consuming and laborious, not to mention it clouds the chain of custody and any tampering with evidence can go unnoticed. A decent digital evidence management system will allow the officers to share the evidence with the relevant personnel over the internet in a matter of seconds, without compromising the integrity and security of the digital evidence files.
VIDIZMO DEMS comes with a whole range of sharing options, that allows officers and investigators to share the evidence files over the email or by sharing a link. They can lock the files with a password, restrict access to only the relevant person, even limit the file to a certain period of time or number of views, after which the file will be inaccessible.
Citizen Portal for Crowdsourcing Evidence
Citizen Portal for Crowdsourcing Evidence is another aspect of evidence sharing. In the age where almost everyone carries a smartphone with them at all times, very little can escape the eye of a camera lens. Citizens capture images and videos of crimes happening right in front of them, which can be used as evidence, to identify perpetrators. The most prominent example of this phenomenon is the Boston marathon bombing where people captured and submitted an overwhelming volume of videos of the unfortunate event. The event is also an example of why a digital evidence tracking software should have crowdsourcing capabilities as well, considering that the email address the police opened up for evidence submission soon crashed because of the sheer volume of incoming digital files.
VIDIZMO offers multitenancy for setting up a separate citizen portal to allow crowdsourced evidence submissions in a single centralized repository. Officers can moderate incoming evidence and decide if it is even worth their while.
Security & Compliance
Security and reliability of the digital evidence is of paramount importance. Any form of digital evidence collection is rendered futile if it isn’t admissible in the court of law. Therefore, the integrity of the digital evidence should be protected by ensuring the security of the portal that it is stored in. The most fundamental way to do that is by logging the chain of custody of the evidence, as it would be logged for physical evidence. A competent digital evidence management system should have a record of every time a digital evidence file exchanges hands and someone accesses, views and shares it. Furthermore, the system should also maintain a hierarchy of users in the actions they can perform and the content they can access.
VIDIZMO DEMS generates logs for chain of custody and audit trail, detects tampering with evidence, and it also comes standard with role-based access control (RBAC) to make sure that users on the portal are assigned certain permissions, keeping the evidence files safe from unauthorized access and activity. VIDIZMO also offers compliance with major data regulations, such as CJIS, DoD, FedRAMP, etc.
Assistance with Analyses
Sure, the fundamental purpose of a digital evidence management system is storing and hosting digital evidence in a centralized repository. But that’s not the end of it. In the current market, law enforcement agencies can expect much more from the system. Any run of the mill evidence tracking software can help with basic digital evidence analysis. A decent digital evidence tracking software attempts to automate certain arduous tasks, such as transcription and redaction. Apart from automating existing tasks, the system should also generate further intelligent insights through facial, speech and object recognition.
Furthermore, law enforcement agencies should also expect their digital evidence management system to offer GIS mapping of evidence and aid in analyzing geographical patterns, streamlining the investigation process.
VIDIZMO DEMS offers artificial intelligence capabilities that help with analysis of the evidence by unlocking insights that would otherwise take time to discover or go unnoticed altogether. The DEMS artificial intelligence recognizes faces, voices, objects, as well as characters, such as signposts or license plates. DEMS also automates transcription and translation of the evidence files and, with a little machine learning, even redaction of personally identifiable information. Furthermore, DEMS offers geospatial mapping of the evidence as well.
If all goes well, law enforcement agencies will have a centralized repository for all their digital evidence. Their next problem would be finding the evidence file they need in that moment. In a decent digital evidence management system, that shouldn’t be a problem. The system should assign tags and metadata to individual evidence files and organize them in relevant case folders. This way, officers should be able to pull any evidence file up in a matter of seconds.
VIDIZMO DEMS automatically generates tags and metadata for each digital evidence file upon ingestion into the portal. Furthermore, using the aforementioned artificial intelligence insights, DEMS allows search not only in the centralized repository but also within the videos. Using the recognized faces, words, objects, as well as sentiments, users can skip to the relevant part of the video instead of sitting through hours of video.
VIDIZMO was designed with the needs of law enforcement agencies in mind. The system is continually evolving to keep up with the trends of the market and the prevalent technology.
To learn more about the digital evidence management capabilities and offerings of VIDIZMO