1 year ago


Law Enforcement/Public

Law Enforcement/Public Safety Study: Utility claims BodyWorn cameras save thousands because of auto redacting By Steve Bittenbender Editor, Government Security News Utility CEO Robert McKeeman calls redacting of images captured by police body-worn cameras the “elephant in the room.” The work it takes to intentionally distort innocent bystanders and other nonessential elements – for privacy protection purposes – from body camera footage is often considered an arduous task that sometimes complicates and lengthens the time it takes for footage to be released to the public. However, McKeeman, whose company produces the BodyWorn camera systems, said that the ability to automatically redact extraneous images that are not necessary to the case at hand. It means the press, the public, juries and judges can see the evidence without jeopardizing the privacy concerns of those in the background. Further, McKeeman said, auto redacting is a tremendous cost saver, and a recent study published by his company shows police departments can save significantly through automatic redaction. “It is the major cost that rarely gets considered when evaluating body cameras, even though handling redaction automatically could end up improving operations and saving departments millions,” he said. “Police transparency and accountability, and protecting the privacy of police officers and citizens, very much depends upon being able to redact video quickly and at low cost. We encourage all Police Departments to tailor our analysis to their specific situation so they make an informed purchase choice that provides the best solution to increase police officer safety while also providing the best value for their taxpayers.” The call for police departments to implement body-worn cameras has grown louder in recent years as a number of high-profile incidents called into question how officers treat suspects. At the same time, however, civil rights advocates have questioned how the use of 26

such cameras won’t invade the privacy of bystanders. In the report, Utility claims automatic redaction can save police departments up to $12,000 per camera over a five-year period. The report is available at: http:// “This analysis is intended to educate government leaders, police executives and procurement staff about the true total cost of implementing and operating a body camera program. The body camera hardware is just the start of the total cost of ownership,” McKeeman said. “Police departments have been surprised by significant additional costs for network infrastructure; operations staff support; police officer overtime; security; backup and disaster recovery; and video storage, redaction and administration costs. Our analysis addresses the 5-Year Total Cost of Ownership of a police body camera solution.” McKeeman added that cameras also should be as easy to use as possible for officers, who are often required to turn on manual cameras during highly stressful situations. He noted a Department of Justice study that indicated Phoenix police officers only turned on manually activated cameras only 13 percent of the time they were required to do so. “Body-worn cameras should reliably capture video and audio without burdening the Police Officer,” McKeeman said. BodyWorn isn’t the only system avail- able that provides automatic redaction. VIEVU offers an automated video redaction technology that uses an advanced algorithm to blur faces and other identifiable features. “The cutting-edge AVR system offered by VIEVU will lessen the burden on police departments and simplify the redaction process, allowing for increased adoption of body worn cameras around the world,” VIEVU President Steve Ward said last year in a release touting its development. Graphic courtesy of Utility 27