The Police Body Camera – New Kid On The Block
The police body camera is being hailed as the ultimate tool to improve police-community interactions. But is it the silver bullet everyone thinks it is? The devil is always in the details.
Capturing The Video
I had the pleasure of attending the IBM Safer Planet conference in Washington D.C. Earlier this October. You could expect that IBM would bring something game-changing to the mix, and they didn’t disappoint. But it had nothing to do with capturing video. IBM doesn’t make body-worn cameras. But it all starts with getting the video.
That’s where the role of policy is an imperative. First, decide what it is you want to do. What is the outcome you want to achieve with the use of a police body camera? When must it be on, or off? Once you’ve clearly defined the big why, then you have to decide the ‘what’…now that we have the police body camera video, what do we do with it?
Analyzing The Video
In a recent podcast with Peter Coldicott, CTO for IBM’s Safer Planet, we discussed the role and use of analytics. We both agreed the need for policy first. Now that you have the video, how do you derive the maximum value from it with the least amount of manual effort? Analytics.
Imagine an officer going through a 12-hour shift and collecting over 8 hours of video. Now multiply that by a few dozen, a few hundred, or a few thousand. Whether you’re the Park City, KS police with 17 officers, or the New York Police Department with 38,000, it still takes time, resources and money to analyze video.
Sifting through video looking for possible suspects an officer may have unwittingly had contact with is not a trivial task. And when seconds count (like a homicide, abduction or terrorism investigation), the last thing you need is a manual process. Imagine the ability to describe the person you’re looking for, to include glasses, facial hair, hair color, clothing color and more. What if the analytics could do in seconds to minutes what it took analysts hours to days to do?
Managing The Video
One of the biggest challenges law enforcement faces is managing the sheer volume of video that is being collected. Agencies need to be responsive to requests from the public, as well as judicial requests. How to find the specific video? What about redacting images that are are not part of the investigation? Or redacting the images of witnesses, sexual assault victims, or minors?
This is when the real challenge begins. I saw a demonstration where certain people were identified as being part of the investigation. The software gave the analyst the ability to key in on every source of video where that face was contained. By creating a forensically sound copy of the original video, the analyst was also able to redact non-relevant images from the video. This was accomplished by either blurring all faces, selected faces, an entire block of pixels or manual analysis.
I’ll be at IBM’s World of Watson in Las Vegas the 24th to the 27th of October. I’ll be doing a deeper dive, hearing from real-world practitioners and learning about current case studies. Follow me on Twitter (@morganwright_us) and Facebook for more info. I’ll be using the hashtag #IBMwow. Stay tuned!
Morgan is an internationally recognized expert on cybersecurity strategy, cyberterrorism, identity theft and privacy. He currently serves as a Senior Fellow at The Center for Digital Government. Morgan’s landmark testimony before Congress on Healthcare.gov changed how the government collected personally identifiable information. He’s made hundreds of appearances on national news, radio, print and web, and has spoken to audiences around the world. Previously Morgan was a Senior Advisor in the US State Department Antiterrorism Assistance Program and Senior Law Enforcement Advisor for the 2012 Republican National Convention.
In addition to 18 years in state and local law enforcement as a highly decorated state trooper and detective, Morgan has developed solutions in defense, justice and intelligence for the largest technology companies in the world. He’s a contributing author for the 4th Edition Computer Security Handbook, and has been quoted in 2 New York Times best sellers (Sharyl Attkisson: Stonewalled and Carmine Gallow: Talk Like TED). Morgan has a new book coming out in this fall titled ‘Identity Predators: Win The War Against Hackers, Scammers and Thieves’.