Cloud technology provides police forces with an efficient way to manage digital evidence

With the government urging police forces across the country to transform in the name of becoming "thoroughly equipped for the digital age," it's not surprising that we're seeing more conversations around the cloud and a buzz from UK polices forces looking to improve their digital capabilities. While various forces are already deploying digital technologies such as bodycams, for many the reality is that these technologies are sitting among siloed, legacy IT systems, reducing the ability to deliver information and intelligence to officers where and when it's needed.

Evidence is the backbone of policing and as crimes continue to grow in complexity, it's time for the police to look to the cloud to help manage the increase in digital evidence. As multimedia becomes abundant, evidence such as images and videos from mobile phones, CCTV, GPS data, SMS and Automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) play a greater part in criminal investigations.

Transforming operations with cloud technology

As public sector budgets continue to be stretched, cloud technologies can provide police with new, more cost-effective and flexible ways to manage investigations and operations. By utilizing existing IT infrastructures and internet connections, police forces can integrate cloud technologies and realize valuable benefits. Whether it's sharing data and coordinating with other departments on a local, regional and national scale or tapping into analytical tools, cloud-based technology is inevitable and police forces should be embracing the opportunities it presents.

For police forces running on traditional IT systems a move to the cloud can be daunting. It's important to deploy a solution which not only is end-to-end and scalable but also recognizes the privacy and security of sensitive information. This is why the NICE Investigate solution is hosted on the Microsoft Azure Government cloud, as it meets the most stringent compliance standards in the world – including the FBI's CJIS (Criminal Justice Information Services) Security Policy. Ultimately, this means law enforcement agencies not only get an effective tool for managing investigations, they are also assured of a solution for storing and safeguarding digital evidence.

Efficient evidence collection

With around 5 million CCTV cameras in the UK, collecting footage can be a time consuming task for police officers and often requires them to physically drive to the crime scene – inspecting the area for cameras. Once identified, officers need to physically download the footage and take it back to the station. Although CCTV evidence is valuable, the sourcing and recovering of the footage involves an outdated, inefficient process which can rack up hours of an investigator's time.

Cloud-based systems can streamline this process by allowing businesses to register their CCTV cameras, and provide contact details through a secure portal, enabling investigators to map out the locations of available footage in relation to know which cameras are near a crime scene, and quickly request and receive video when a crime occurs, without having to travel to the location. Video is electronically transferred and automatically transcoded to a playable format. This dramatically improves officer productivity, but even more importantly investigators can get a jump start on investigations within the critical first 24 hours.

Outsourcing the evidence room

Clearly security is a top priority for every police force but it can also be a hurdle to adopting cloud-based systems. While many police forces are already using or considering moving to the cloud, it's important to remember that confidential and sensitive data lives at the heart of the evidence room, whether it be physical or virtual.

Traditionally evidence rooms located in police buildings are well protected and require physical entry; digital evidence on the other hand can be accessed from anywhere and this can be perceived as an increased risk.

Using a cloud-based system that leverages data encryption and multiple layers of security can help combat these fears while providing additional benefits of scalable storage at a relatively low cost. The scalability of the Microsoft Azure cloud means that digital evidence management systems like NICE Investigate can easily adjust to meet the changing investigative workloads and evidence storage requirements of today's police investigators. Furthermore, cloud technologies can equip IT teams with advanced administrative controls to manage and monitor access, permissions and usage.

But as more evidence becomes digital and police forces look to store the deluge of data from dashcams and body-worn video, the traditional evidence room no longer looks fit for purpose. With cloud storage files can be located centrally and this assists police officers in accessing the right information when needed. Additionally, as video files take up substantially more storage bandwidth than other file types, the scalability of the cloud allows storage to grow with the volume of media files received.

With cloud computing already delivering efficiency and cost savings to organizations across the private sector, it's time for police forces around the world to give cloud solutions a serious look. 

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