Following the launch of the BSI's BS 8593 Code of Practice for the Deployment and use of Body Worn Video (BWV), we look at why it specifically recommends only using a Body Worn Camera for Body Worn Video applications.
While it may seem counter-intuitive to suggest using anything other than a dedicated Body Worn Camera for Body Worn Video applications, there are organisations (and indeed manufacturers) who believe Smartphones or action cameras can be used as a viable alternative.
On the surface, downloading a 'Body Worn Camera' App to a mobile phone may seem a cost-effective and easily accessible alternative to investing in Body Worn Cameras, however there are significant drawbacks that impact operational usage.
A Smartphone is designed, at its very core, to be a phone - with some additional applications to provide enhanced functionality.
All of the Apps on a Smartphone compete against each other for their required share of the phone's processor and hardware resources, and in a battle of resources the Smartphone’s primary purpose will always win out.
To give an example, if a user begins to record a video on a Smartphone and an incoming call is received the video will immediately cut out - not ideal for Body Worn Camera applications where constant on-demand access to video recording is vital.
In terms of design, WCCTV's Body Worn Cameras are designed to be incredibly easy to use. Having a large push button to begin recording makes it simple for an operator who may be wearing gloves or in the heat of the moment to push and commence recording.
If the operator has to activate recording by using the touchscreen of a Smartphone it could be very difficult, and vital incidents could be missed due to the fact the Smartphone was simply not designed with this type of scenario in mind.
Another issue with using a Smartphone is that developers will never be able to access the source code and/or operating system on the Smartphone, so, no matter how sophisticated Apps may become, they will always lose out to the core OS.
Any updates or modifications to the core OS rolled-out by Smartphone developers is completely out of the hands of App developers. These updates often render previous versions of App obsolete, and redevelopments will often be required to keep an app functional (this has been evidenced recently with the roll-out of iOS 11). Again, not ideal for Body Worn Camera applications where a quick response to an event may be required.
Using an action camera likewise has many drawbacks. Key among these is that they are designed for social activities and not evidential video recording. The videos recorded on an action camera have no encryption or security protection, meaning that if a camera was lost the videos would be freely available to anyone who found the camera. This could present a very embarrassing scenario.
Furthermore, there is no audit trail with an action camera. WCCTV's Body Worn Cameras have a unique identification code and pin number, the details of which are stored in the metadata of recorded videos. This means any footage can be matched to the wearer of the device, making the videos recorded and supporting testimony evidentially sound.
Finally, both of the above options only provide a solution for one element of Body Worn Video deployment - recording videos. The effective management of those videos should be treated with equal importance.
Having a supporting Evidence Management Software that assists organisations with data protection (particularly with GDPR on the horizon), storing, sharing and creating comprehensive case files is an absolute essential element of Body Worn Video deployment.
For any Body Worn Video application, what is truly required is a device and supporting software that have been specifically designed for Body Worn Video applications.
A device that can have its firmware and OS tailored to suit that single goal yet retains the flexibility to allow updates and functionality enhancements to be made safely under the control of developers is simply essential.
Hardware and software changes and upgrades can be made without having to wait for a non committal manufacturer, who never intended for their devices to be used in this way.
For more information on WCCTV's dedicated, market-leading and multi-award-winning range of Body Worn Video solutions visit our website.