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Applying the same VMS for multiple law enforcement applications

There are many applications for which a police force can use video surveillance. Historically, there may have been several different surveillance systems associated with various aspects of the job.


December 21, 2011
By Rob Colman


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With the advent of enterprise-class IP surveillance systems, it’s possibile to use the same physical system for multiple applications. For example, one physical VMS can be virtually segmented and then used for investigating and documenting the arrest and interview, as well as recording the parts in between. This is achieved by using user-privilege policies and advanced recording and management features. For investigation applications, one user account can be set up for each investigator, and they will only have access to their camera footage. IP cameras can then be set up almost anywhere in the city and transmitted back to the precinct via the Internet.

Once an investigation is completed, the camera can be re-used for a different investigation at a different location, but the video archives will remain on the server.

It is important to determine if the VMS has the ability to disassociate the IP camera from the recorded footage. If it does not offer this feature, you risk deleting the video archives when you remove the camera from the system or mixing up two investigations when the camera is repurposed for the next one. A reliable VMS system will also allow investigators to add bookmarks to the video as they review it, so they can search for the parts they have deemed important to review later. Also, when reviewing large amounts of footage, a thumbnail preview can be useful.

A second function of the same VMS could be the management of the cameras in the police precinct used for protecting the building and observing suspects who are brought in. Unfortunately, people coming in and going out of precincts are often there involuntarily. Having cameras in public areas can be used to protect the police officers from false claims of mistreatment of suspects during the admittance process, booking, interviewing and holding of suspects. For example, I have seen a system that was actually synchronized with the video camera on the police car. This system was so sophisticated that, when the police car entered the facility, it would download the video wirelessly to the precinct server and would be indexed with the arrest number, so that, if required, the video of the arrest, booking and transport to the holding cell could all be indexed to be easily retrieved as one file.

The interview process is an extremely important part of the police arrest and, historically, was recorded using a separate dedicated system (often a VHS video camera). However, with sophisticated video management software that offers partitions, the same software and server used for investigations and building security can be used for this third application. It is important to choose IP cameras that have audio inputs, as well as an input and output relay and, of course, a VMS that supports these functions.

Steve Bocking is Business Development Manager at Genetec. He can be reached at sbocking@genetec.com


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