Monday, July 11, 2011

Video as digital evidence, from the camera to the courtroom

These days citizen security is one of the biggest issues worldwide, competing closely with unemployment and education.  Violence has a negative impact on social development and the traditional schemes employed to address it are based solely on police strategies, criminal justice and penal systems which underestimate the complexity of the problem at hand.  

Facing this complex reality, public security organisms have been forced to shift the focus of their concerns, from an organizational model based exclusively on law enforcement to a smart version of security management which sets priorities and cares about the cost-efficiency relation, the quality of the services provided and the efficacy of adopted policies.

Although security management is still a developing field, the new technological platforms available already offer a significant improvement in the forensic analysis capabilities for the application of justice. Just like in the medical field, remote surveillance continuously brings about new miracle cures. The benefits range from its dissuasive effect, to a preventive approach through early detection of suspicious activities and the supply of hard evidence during investigations.   

Video as evidence to certify what happened during an incident: this is the natural response to our digital environment, to the increased appraisal of information and its uses, to the development of new spaces where it is employed; to the degree of maturity reached by digital technology in terms of capture, coding, storage and transmission; to the technological advances of, among other devices, video cameras, IP networks, communications, and video management and analysis solutions that have allowed for an exponential boom of remote surveillance systems during the past 10 years.  

Video analysis is the latest application setting the trend in this sector. Video analysis, intelligent video and video content analysis are all terms that define the capability of mathematically detecting, recognizing and analysing objects and events by the means of digital video. A report by IMS Research predicted that the video analysis market would grow to USD 3.4 billion in 2010. This is just the tip of the iceberg of the IP video surveillance industry as a whole, though: according to ABI Research, the sector finds itself in a key inflection point between analog and digital technology, and could go from USD 13.5 billion in revenue in 2006 to USD 46 billion in 2013. In the United Kingdom alone, there are right now over 4.2 million cameras, one for every 14 people, and the number keeps growing.   

As per Smarmatic estimates, a multinational company that designs and deploys these technological solutions, the average person is captured on video between 8 to 10 times a day, and so is the average criminal. This explains why video evidence has become more frequent in crime scenes than any other type of forensic evidence. The capability of obtaining detailed information from video evidence has a tremendous potential for clearing up facts: it is the new raw material for investigators.      

Intelligent video studies and their applications in the security field show a very promising future, and the disciplines involved in its research and development are several. Forensic informatics is making its entrance as an auxiliary discipline of modern justice, and as a reliable defender of the truth contained in digital evidence which can contribute to the administration of justice.
Meyling Fois

No comments: