Integrating Body-Worn Cameras with Existing Video Management Systems
Written by Richie McBride   

BODY-WORN CAMERAS (BWC) HAVE BEEN PROVEN to help improve the safety of those in public-facing roles, while producing compelling legal evidence when needed. BWCs can provide twofold protection to staff: first, members of the public naturally change and moderate their behavior for the better when they realize they are being, or may be, recorded; but more importantly, those cameras can then be used, when needed, to alert colleagues to an incident, to obtain evidential-quality footage to secure convictions, or to uphold the account of staff in the event of a complaint or incident.

Studies examining the use of BWCs show they make a real difference in protecting frontline staff and the public. Not only do they deter aggression and in many cases eliminate the need to activate a panic alarm or radio during an incident, but they also help staff feel valued, safe, and more protected.

In order to deliver the benefits, a body-worn camera system must be simple to deploy, simple to manage, and simple to use. Wearable cameras are tools for the users to protect themselves—but it isn’t the focus of their job, nor should it be. It is the system’s job to be easy to use and easy to deploy with minimal training. In addition, the back-office management suite must be secure and able to deliver court-admissible evidence packages.

Integrate with Existing Video Management Systems

One of the most important recent innovations in the wearable camera market has been the ability to integrate the cameras with existing video management systems (VMS), enabling organizations to unify a site’s security and monitoring system, create mobile and first-person viewpoints, and add contextual detail to footage.

Streaming gateway software integrates compatible back-office body-worn camera software with existing VMS for fixed IP camera networks. This software can enable ONVIF-compliant VMSs to be compatible with body-worn cameras, streamlining the management of footage for users. Cameras integrate seamlessly, meaning captured footage can be instantly shared and viewed by security staff.

Fixed security cameras connected to a VMS are a powerful tool for monitoring and securing many different environments, from retail floors to distribution centers. Worn on the uniform, staff need only press a button on the lightweight camera to activate recording, which in turn can send a live feed of the situation back to a centrally based control room, where the footage can be viewed by security staff, and action taken. These cameras also have the ability to send an alert SMS message once activated, sharing the live footage stream with designated personnel.

This latest innovation means BWCs are capable of streaming live video and audio feeds from multiple perspectives and viewpoints to a control room, while simultaneously recording footage in HD quality locally to the device for the creation of complete evidence packages.

Five things security installers should know about wearable cameras:

1. BWCs can be seamlessly integrated into leading video management systems to be viewed alongside CCTV

In order to capture incidents in greater detail and from the perspective of staff, including audio which most CCTV cameras do not capture, Wi-Fi enabled BWCs can stream footage live to a central control center so that the security team has visibility of an escalated incident even in CCTV camera blind spots. This also allows central security staff to manage both systems side-by-side, saving time and money.

2. Touch-assign technology can simplify BWC workflows

BWC deployments can take advantage of existing security installations using RFID, which many already use for door-access control systems, for example. Security staff can assign themselves cameras instantly and easily using RFID touch-assign technology through their RFID cards. Only cameras fully charged and ready to use can be assigned, ensuring BWCs are managed properly without the need for a member of staff to be present to hand out cameras individually, or manually log-on and assign devices. Once assigned via an RFID card, that camera is linked to the wearer to provide crucial information about who recorded what and when.

3. BWC systems can be deployed to home workers

New technology means an organization’s BWC network can be deployed to employees working from home or remote offices. Staff operating from home, such as bailiffs, simply retrieve their BWC from a dock attached to a network device located at their home at the start of their shift and return it at the end of the day. All footage and camera management information is then forwarded to a central server during low broadband use periods, or via the cloud, for review by colleagues based at HQ. This allows flexible working for staff, whilst ensuring the integrity and security of recorded footage for management teams.

4. BWCs are proven to deter aggression and protect staff

Retail staff, security teams, prison officers, and environment agency enforcement officers are just some of the users of BWCs who have stated that wearing a BWC makes them feel safer at work. When recording is activated it is made clearly visible to any potential aggressors, reminding them that their actions from this point can be made into video evidence. False complaints are also greatly reduced for organizations using BWCs. A study by the University of Cambridge found that police complaints fell by 93% following rollouts of BWCs to frontline officers in the US and UK.

5. Incident recorders are the latest development for campus security

BWCs don’t all come in the one (large) size. Many assume that BWCs are only for police and security guards, but new smaller-sized incident recorders are designed for regular staff in retail, campuses, and hospitals who might face abuse and aggression only at certain times in their work. Incident recorders can live stream to a central security room, much like a Wi-Fi enabled BWC, to complement a fixed IP camera system on site. These devices can often operate on standby for up to six months, meaning their disruption to daily working life is minimal.

About Richie McBride

Richie McBride is a serial entrepreneur and investor. He is the managing director and co-founder of Edesix Ltd. which has grown to become a market leader in the provision of body-worn camera solutions. Edesix, which is based in Edinburgh, UK, provides its solutions to those in public facing roles, such as police, security personnel, emergency services workers, and the transport industry.

This article appared in the Winter 2018 issue of Evidence Technology Magazine.
Click here to read the full issue.

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