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Managing growing volumes of digital evidence

OPEN Lucas Kolberg25th June 2019Lucas Kolberg, FotoWare

Credit: John Cameron Unsplash

Police officers and staff need innovative tools to help them to tackle the increasing challenges that the role of policing brings, especially when it comes to handling and managing the ever-increasing amount of digital evidence being generated. Read more about how digital evidence management, or DEM, plays a crucial role in helping officers to identify suspects, solve investigations and fight crime.

Having inefficient systems and files kept in different folder structures, or even on hard-drives, can be a real source of frustration, especially when an officer or member of police staff suddenly gets a request asking for certain files to be sent over immediately

Since 1998, FotoWare has delivered Digital Evidence Management (DEM) systems to UK police forces (and many others worldwide). As a reliable vendor with a strong track record in the market, backed up by experienced resellers, we’ve followed the market and its developments. We understand the ever-mounting pressures and challenges that frontline officers and staff face in their day-to-day work. With the increase in reported crimes emerges a challenge that FotoWare is part of solving; where to handle and share the increasing amount of evidence in all its various digital formats.

Having inefficient systems and files kept in different folder structures, or even on hard-drives, can be a real source of frustration, especially when an officer or member of police staff suddenly gets a request asking for certain files to be sent over immediately. An investigation will proceed in an efficient manner if individuals working on the investigation are able to quickly find and process important evidence in a single system, and where everything is searchable and accessible thanks to extensive metadata and full-text indexing of documents. Metadata, along with full-text indexing of documents, is instrumental when managing large collections of digital evidence. It allows investigating officers to search and filter down according to location, crime type, etc, and can be collected, analysed and added to reports.

More digital evidence from more sources

A challenge for law enforcement is to be able to manage their growing amount of digital evidence. Evidence is coming in from all angles; from body-worn cameras to CCTV, and even to footage from members of the public. These images also need to be uploaded in the original format and made searchable and accessible for officers and police staff working on investigations. This is crucial when presenting the evidence in court, as i.e. a RAW file wouldn’t be able to be presented in court, and images may even need to be converted to different formats and even annotated.

The need for a program that plays these clips in a playable format was realised early, and CCTV is something that FotoWare’s partners have been able to build an integration for. The public can share their clips with the police through specially adapted upload sites, where they will be viewed by experienced officers. FotoWare CEO, Anne Gretland, is proud of the way FotoWare have adopted to the needs of law enforcement over the years:

“FotoWare was born out of the rapid digitalization in the media industry, when analogue images were becoming redundant and systems were needed to support the ever-growing number of digital images. We soon realised that our solution would also work very well for the purposes of law enforcement”

Lots has been learnt and many pain points have been solved along the way; from the initial headache of developing photos from crime scenes and making sure that they were securely stored, to being able to store and view images from CCTV, BWV and mobile phones.

A system can quickly become a bottleneck if you’re able to ingest evidence, but not share it or even integrate it with other systems

“Police officers are doing the most important job of all; they protect us and make the world safe. DEM providers should, hand in hand with their customers, be at the top of their game when it comes to developing future-proof features that help law enforcement agencies to meet the growing demands of society”, says Gretland

Police forces use Digital Evidence Management (DEM) solution as an ultimate source of truth for digital evidence relating to investigations, although this ultimate source of truth should also make it easy to share evidence. A system can quickly become a bottleneck if you’re able to ingest evidence, but not share it or even integrate it with other systems. That’s why sharing features such as albums and robust APIs for integration with Case Management and Records Management Systems should be at the top of any police forces list.

FotoWare’s customers are one of the main drivers when developing new features; features such as annotations and PDF+ were developed in cooperation with law enforcement, according to the needs of police forces in Europe. Various customisations and integrations based on the specifications of customers have also made it into the total solution, such as the integration with SiraView meaning that officers can easily view CCTV clips in the DEM system, and be able to focus on certain events.

Andreas Gnutzmann, FotoWare’s CTO, says this about responding to modern challenges involving managing evidence;

“Tech companies are always passionate about solving problems – the important thing to remember is to involve the users early, so that you can solve actual problems that the actual users encounter in their daily lives. This is especially important in law enforcement, where we support our customers’ current and future workflow by creating features such as Annotations. This is a true game changer for describing visual assets and means that we can provide our police customers with the tools they need to be able to collaborate even better across departments and external agencies.”

DEM systems are therefore simplifying the collection, storage and sharing of evidence, allowing officers to focus on what they do best; solving crimes and putting criminals before the courts. With the UK Government’s cloud-first policy initiative, we’re confident that the Software-as-a-Service delivery model on the public cloud (Microsoft Azure) will offer public services better value for money, along with the scalability and security that should be expected in such a mission critical system.

FotoWare has, since 1998, offered a tool for the secure and safe storage of digital evidence, with intuitive plugins and robust APIs for integrations with 3rd party systems. This helps police and law enforcement agencies alike to find, manage and share valuable evidence, and collaborate more efficiently on all cases where evidence needs to be found and used quickly.

Book a meeting with Lucas Kolberg or click here to find out more about how Fotoware can help you with your digital evidence requirements


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