Jun 29 2022

Criminal Justice Agencies Sort Big Data with Digital Evidence Management

Cloud-based tools ease the burden of data collection and analysis for investigators.

With the proliferation of mobile devices and private surveillance cameras, criminal justice agencies and police departments may find themselves overwhelmed with potential evidence. The explosion of such data has increased the strain on investigators and first responders, who rely upon evidence collected from in-vehicle cameras, body-worn cameras, surveillance cameras, mobile phones and interview rooms.

State and local investigators can sort through this explosion of digital files, including photos and videos, with the assistance of cloud-based digital evidence management solutions. Detectives and attorneys can pull copies of entire drives from mobile devices and import them into a digital evidence management system for sharing and analysis.

Agencies can choose one of two approaches to implementing cloud-based digital evidence management solutions.

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Law Enforcement Can Turn to Manufacturers or Systems Integrators

First, agencies can purchase straightforward and effective systems from manufacturers such as Axon and Getac. Usually, an agency purchases hardware such as body-worn or in-vehicle cameras and receives a back-end system for no additional charge. Those back-end systems manage the digital evidence collected by the hardware, and they empower agencies to apply many features and filters to that evidence.

In many cases, these digital evidence management solutions can ingest content from other media systems and catalog those files in a wide range of formats including video, photos, documents and more. Often, this nonnative import process does not capture metadata, so some agencies have crafted scripts that help to automate that process.

RELATED: How new technologies help emergency call centers analyze and act on relevant data.

Second, state and local investigators may turn to systems integrators, such as Genetec and Hitachi, who don’t produce hardware like body cameras. These companies support a vendor-neutral, content-neutral enterprise digital evidence management system capable of sorting through multiple sources of input. These solutions are likely to appeal to criminal investigation bureaus, whereas the single-manufacturer solutions may appeal more to police departments.

Systems such as Genetec Clearance can register privately owned cameras that participate in partnerships with agencies. Private businesses can allow first responder agencies access to their live video in an emergency or give investigators access to post-incident video to be searched by date and time or other factors.

Cutting-Edge Tools Assist Investigators with Data Management

In addition to searching digital evidence, criminal justice agencies have an interest in sharing and moving files. Cutting-edge tools make this easier than it once was. A district attorney must receive evidence to act on it. Digital evidence management solutions make it easier for that DA to handle and process such evidence to sort it and dispatch it to where it must go.

A typical DA in the United States oversees criminal justice proceedings across a large swath of cities and perhaps even counties and across a state. A DA might get Axon cloud data from one agency combined with Panasonic i-PRO data from another, along with analog tapes from some legacy systems. Video from a private business and still images contributed by civilian bystanders may also be available. DA offices must standardize the intake and processing of this evidence.

EXPLORE: How audio and visual technology is enhancing courthouse proceedings.

When it comes to understanding the data on hand, investigators can now turn to artificial intelligence for assistance. Veritone produces a leading AI-enabled digital investigatory tool. The vendor uses AI to analyze media collected by criminal justice agencies. It can search through a video repository to identify specific people or things. For example, it can distinguish persons of interest by their height and hair color and track their presence throughout media during a specific range of dates.

AI also can search for audio or text without having to manually scrub files. As such, AI can accelerate searches that once required hours or days, reducing them to seconds in some cases.

This article is part of StateTech’s CITizen blog series. Please join the discussion on Twitter by using the #StateLocalIT hashtag.

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