The Panasonic brand is no stranger to public safety professionals, especially in the area of law enforcement. For decades, Panasonic has been one of the dominant suppliers of evidence capture and management solutions for law enforcement applications. It is one of the core reasons why Panasonic products are installed in almost every North American police vehicle working today.
Public safety systems are mission critical, and law enforcement demands high-quality, robust products that simply must work all the time. That’s why Panasonic evidence capture and management solutions have weathered the test of time. When other companies market their products as “Ruggedized” or “Mil Spec” tested, it is usually Panasonic products setting the standard by which the others are measured.
Panasonic’s solutions are fully integrated, and for years, the Panasonic Arbitrator in-vehicle video platform has led the industry with complete mobile computing integration as well as body-worn camera integration. That reputation for quality and performance now resides under a new company called Panasonic i-PRO Sensing Solutions Corporation of America.
Established on October 1, 2019, Panasonic i-PRO represents a significant change in philosophy relative to the company’s previous go-to-market strategies, product and integrated system offerings, and reseller and technology partnerships.
Panasonic i-PRO will continue to build upon its expansive portfolio with new technologies and advanced AI-driven software and analytics that complement its best-in-class imaging technologies and edge products, and further build on a history of innovation and leadership that spans over 60 years with the Panasonic brand.
Panasonic i-PRO is comprised of the following business units:
Intelligent Surveillance, offering comprehensive IP and analog video surveillance, access control, and analytics solutions for professional applications that combine best-in-class hardware, management, and control software, and deep-learning AI analytics.
Public Safety, providing advanced video solutions for law enforcement applications, including next generation body-worn cameras, in-vehicle video systems, evidence capture and management software, and intelligent analytics such as facial redaction to protect personal privacy.
Medical Imaging, delivering high-performance cameras designed specifically for medical imaging devices and systems, and other industrial applications.
The accelerating evolution of technology has provided law enforcement agencies with a wide array of new tools and resources to help them perform their jobs. However, budgets and time for learning new platforms and processes are limited. For these reasons, it is essential to find robust products that best support officers and departments by delivering solutions that save time and money and work as force multipliers.
Technology solutions must reduce complexity for the front line, not add to it! Law enforcement agencies are under greater scrutiny than ever before. It has become imperative to document interactions and events. Accordingly, the use of in-car video systems and body-worn cameras has become widespread, vastly increasing the amount of video being created. This greatly increases the bandwidth and storage space required, along with the time needed to tag and catalog the video, so that it can be easily located and made available for use as evidence within the judicial process.
Digital video evidence management has also placed a burden on already overtaxed agencies as thousands of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests require officers to spend time redacting bystanders’ faces before providing video to fulfill requests. When budgeting for a new body-worn or in-vehicle system, many agencies overlook the residual costs associated with disclosure, or the time involved. That is where a comprehensive solution provides efficiency for organizations with Panasonic i-PRO’s complete turnkey evidence capture and management solution.
While many individual products on the market claim to address these needs, the best technology solutions for law enforcement must do more. They need to work together as a single integrated system. They need to improve overall law enforcement operations, and they need to make busy officers and departments more efficient. Simply put, they need to make work easier, not add layers of complexity. This must also be done without the need for officer intervention. The key is seamless integration that allows the officers to maintain complete situational awareness at all times.
Be wary of those vendors who recently jumped on the video bandwagon and now offer free hardware when you purchase their version of a complete video solution. A vendor with no experience in the mobile video space is a vendor who may not be there when issues arise.
Panasonic i-PRO has four areas in their integrated imaging and evidence gathering solution for law enforcement:
Cameras that can be worn on the body protect law enforcement officers, as well as the populations they serve and protect. The best body-worn cameras deliver outstanding imaging quality with rugged durability and features that make them easy to deploy and use while in the field. Operationally, it is very inconvenient to have to return to the station to replace a battery. You want a BWC with a long-lasting battery, preferably one that is quickly swapped in the field. Additionally, a body-worn camera, along with any other mobile technology, should integrate seamlessly with your entire digital evidence system.
The relationship and contact between police officers and the public needs to be based on trust. Even with the clearly defined authority to do their jobs, law enforcement professionals must develop and maintain confidence that they are committed to caring for the public, which is essential to creating an environment that enables them to truly protect the public. This was one of the initial objectives in deploying body-worn cameras, to deliver incontrovertible evidence in the form of video to support the actions taken by officers responding to an incident, while also providing a new level of accountability to help preserve much-needed public trust.
During an emerging crime or other event, officers must remain focused on their primary responsibilities as responders. This is called situational awareness. In order for technology to provide the supportive role for which it is designed, it needs to function smoothly and seamlessly without getting in the way of the essential work being done. For body-worn cameras, this takes on several meanings.
BWCs should keep running in every kind of weather, including rain, high humidity, and heat, so that evidence capture continues uninterrupted. From an ease-of-use perspective, it should be exceptionally simple to grab and mount, so that it does not slow officers’ response time in an emergency. To make it as quick and easy as possible for active officers to use, it should enable lightning-fast initiation of recording from a number of different inputs, no matter how pressed they are for time.
From an evidence-management perspective, the body-worn camera should enable easy synchronization of video recordings with the in-vehicle computer system. It should also be fully integrated with the unified digital evidence management platform to preserve a verifiable chain of custody for video evidence. This is a vitally important feature, especially in today’s world of deep fakes where videos can be manipulated to show almost anything happening, and chain of custody challenges could potentially negate the value of authentic incident video.
Finally, the body-worn camera system should provide flexible storage options that enable storage of video evidence on the premises, in the cloud, or in a hybrid storage solution, incorporating both.
These devices provide your agency with documentation of any officer’s actions during an encounter in the field, from the vantage point of the vehicle on the scene. Obtaining the necessary evidence depends on the in-vehicle system capturing the activity around the police vehicle, in high-definition video. Because officers need to be able to focus on the situation at hand, officers should be able to rely on the system automatically initiating recording for a range of triggers, including vehicle speed, lightbar status, G-forces, doors opening, and weapon lock releases.
Panasonic i-PRO vehicle camera systems capture 360 degrees of activity in HD video. Additional sensors capture vehicle speed, lightbar status, G-forces, doors opening, weapon lock releases and more, all of which can automatically trigger recording. It is the level of performance and reliability today’s law enforcement professionals demand to document every engagement they encounter on the road and in the field.
Built to survive the demands of law enforcement use, i-PRO’s Arbitrator 360®™ HD system is MIL-STD- 810H-tested for resistance to shock, vibration, extreme temperatures, dust, moisture, and other harsh conditions. Designed based on years of extensive feedback from law enforcement agencies across the country, i-PRO’s 360° HD system’s video technology is purpose-built on the foundation of Panasonic i-PRO surveillance cameras.
One word of caution with regards to MIL-STD-810 testing, do your homework, learn the actual definition of the standards, and read up on exactly how each vendor’s product performed at these tests. There are many products claiming to meet the minimum standards but when you really drill down and read the details, you will see that not everyone’s products passed the exact same tests.
The system’s video processing unit supports up to two 512 GB solid-state hard drives and provides full Power over Ethernet (PoE) to attached IP cameras. The system is equipped with a tamper-resistant key lock, and recording can be activated based on predefined triggers, such as the use of the vehicle’s siren or other devices. Transferring and managing evidence is simple with the system’s built-in wireless options or within i-PRO’s 360° HD CommandR™ Unified Digital Evidence solution.
i-PRO’s Arbitrator 360° HD VC30 main camera offers a 65-degree viewing angle. It is equipped with a 30X optical and 12X digital zoom (360X total) and ultra-low-light viewing, enabling and the capture of clear evidence from a distance, even at night. The recent addition of the optional VC35/AS-1 main camera offers a compact camera with a wider angle of view (86 degrees) and updated sensor technology. This smaller form-factor camera improves the officer’s view through the windshield, complying with recent initiatives to achieve this objective. i-PRO’s Arbitrator 360° HD makes recording seamless with 16 automatic and manual triggers to ensure you capture clear evidence from double tapping a wireless mic, to opening a back door, to turning on the lightbar. In addition, the system provides the ability to record evidence simultaneously from up to five different cameras and three audio inputs, with pre-recording for up to 90 seconds, so you will not miss a second. Wireless microphone system can transmit quality audio up to one mile from the receiver.
Unified Digital Evidence Software
With body-worn cameras and in-car systems providing a wealth of video evidence, it is essential to have unified digital evidence (UDE) software that keeps files organized and easily accessible. Your UDE system should enable easy evidence documentation and ensure you are always in compliance with regulations. With this software, you are also protected from chain-of-custody challenges in court.
Staying in control of your evidence is a huge issue that usually does not get the scrutiny it deserves. Unless you have never rolled out a mobile video solution, either vehicle-mounted, or body-worn, you will not be aware of some of the significant back-end challenges before you. Questions arise like, “Whose video actually is this….my agency’s or the camera vendor’s? Does it make a difference if I host the video storage locally in my building, or should it be stored in the cloud? Remember when someone says it is stored in the cloud that just means it is in a server in someone else’s building. Can you guarantee that it is in this country? Does that meet your governmental data privacy rules? Panasonic i-PRO allows for all video and audio data to be stored on premises, in the cloud, or in any combination of both knowing you own all the data regardless of where it resides.
The goal of every video capture system is to get the complete picture. Unlock every second of video and audio captured by our body-worn cameras and in-car video systems, with GPS data, vehicle speed, G-forces, and even motion data from officers wearing body-worn cameras. All files are encrypted and hashed, so your evidence stays secure from capture to court to archiving.
The software maintains all original files entered into the system. Every redaction and edit occurs on a separate, tracked file, so you document changes and authenticate evidence integrity. Log the chain of custody automatically, so you are always ready to comply with audits and produce documentation.
It also works with existing Panasonic i-PRO camera systems, so it can be upgraded to more efficient, more secure workflows without investing in new hardware.
Agencies are tasked with responding to an increasing volume of FOIA requests. This can consume a tremendous amount of manpower at a time when agency budgets are more pressed than ever. The best automated redaction software can significantly reduce the manual effort of editing your video files and allows you to respond more quickly and efficiently to FOIA requests.
Facial recognition technology has brought both new capabilities and new scrutiny to law enforcement operations. While the ability to identify criminals from surveillance video undoubtedly aids in the process of arrest and conviction after a crime has been committed, there has been growing resistance to the creation of massive identity databases and the notion that any individual can be “watched” or “tracked.”
With the huge numbers of FOIA requests being handled by law enforcement today, agencies have been forced to allocate more and more personnel time to editing video. This is exacerbated by the growing volume of video from body-worn cameras, in-car cameras, mounted surveillance cameras, and the mobile phones of millions of individuals. One of the most time-consuming aspects of this video editing is the manual redaction of people’s faces to protect the identities of those bystanders not involved in the incidents.
Recognizing the vital importance of building and maintaining trust with our communities, it is crucial that agencies leverage available software solutions to address privacy concerns wherever possible. Here again, there is technology that can help. Using combined AI and machine learning to automate the video redaction process, existing software can reduce the time needed for the manual processes of uploading, storing, searching, editing, and sharing video content. As with the BWC, in order for this software to provide a supportive role to law enforcement, it needs to offer a number of essential features.
Your redaction solution should be fully automated with the ability to upload multiple videos for overnight batch redaction processing. The user interface should be easy to learn and operate, with convenient administrative tools for secure multi-user management. Most importantly, it should have the capability of working with all videos in the mp4 format, so that you are able to easily and conveniently protect the privacy of individuals on any video you have – including from iPhone and Android devices.
Ideally, like your body-worn cameras, it should also integrate with your other systems, including your digital evidence management software. This provides further support for chain-of-custody evidence authentication. And finally, it should offer storage options both on-premise and in the cloud.
Digital evidence has become an essential tool for law enforcement operations and investigations. With more and more data available, without the right solution to properly manage and handle digital information, departments can become overwhelmed. However, with the right technologies in place, your digital evidence becomes a powerful resource to protect officers in performing their duties.
Today’s law enforcement officers are facing unprecedented challenges. While new technology, such as facial recognition, is reaching the market to aid in identifying and prosecuting criminals, there is also a growing resistance due to concerns about privacy issues. Additionally, new gains are being made in civil rights and equality causes, and these are often accompanied by civil unrest with the potential for harm and injury. In such turbulent times, it is essential to take every step possible to maintain public trust and safety without compromising the ability to fully execute law enforcement professionals’ mission to serve and protect.
Fortunately, this is where technology can also help to build bridges with communities. Some of the very same solutions that have raised questions can also provide answers, thereby addressing some of the most pressing problems facing law enforcement professionals right now.
While the cultural and social environment may be changing rapidly, the responsibility of law enforcement officers remains the same. Technology itself is morally neutral – it is the intent of the user that matters. By using emerging technology to empower our work, agencies can take a meaningful step to better meet the needs of our communities.
A complete public safety solution means not only front-line video but should also include or be futureproofed for infrastructure safety through video. Panasonic i-PRO offers solutions for law enforcement as well as municipalities. The Panasonic i-PRO Secure Cities program delivers the most comprehensive portfolio of industry-leading technologies combined with highly experienced engineering, sales, and support personnel who understand the demands and challenges municipalities face today. By seamlessly integrating best-in-class imaging solutions, video and access management platforms, law enforcement technologies, and intelligent analytics, the Panasonic i-PRO Secure Cities program greatly enhances security and municipality operations. it also offers the performance, reliability, cost-efficiency, and personal privacy local government officials and taxpayers can trust.
The Panasonic i-PRO Secure Cities program provides innovative solutions for:
• Municipal Surveillance and Security
• Law Enforcement Surveillance Systems
• Traffic Monitoring
• Public Health and Safety Compliance
• Public Events and Venues
• Mass Transportation Hubs
• Schools and Universities
The Panasonic i-PRO Secure Cities program is a comprehensive initiative designed to provide the best in technology, incentives, tools, and ongoing support. Panasonic i-PRO has a team of seasoned surveillance, security, and law enforcement technology experts that can help local government officials navigate the entire process of implementing smart technologies for smart city applications, from defining needs to setting budgets and securing funding for system design, to installation, implementation, and support.
The Panasonic i-PRO Secure Cities component is the final piece of a comprehensive video solution provided by a company with an unprecedented legacy of law enforcement support and a reputation for technology solutions that just simply work.
Sergeant Brad Brewer is a 30-year member of the Vancouver Police Department. He was an eight-year member of the Ford Police Advisory Board and regularly gives presentations at law enforcement conferences on mobile computing, wireless technology and police vehicle ergonomics. He can be reached at email@example.com.