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Lowering the barrier of entry to AI based CCTV video analytics can lead to increases in criminal prosecutions.

Humans make mistakes. Humans get tired. Humans get distracted. Loss of concentration and inaccuracies are unintentional, but when applied to the detailed analysis of CCTV footage the human element can be a decisive factor if compelling video evidence is required to be admissible in critical court cases.

With the majority of court cases now involving CCTV footage as part of the prosecution case, video footage and the audit trail of how it has been obtained, viewed, analysed and presented has to be totally transparent. If not, it can be dismissed as evidence and may not lead to the expected prosecution.

The challenge with CCTV in today’s modern world is the sheer volume that is created. A single camera will record 168 hours of footage in a week. Multiple cameras all filming at high resolution (4k) will create terabytes of data that may need to be viewed, analysed and scrutinised. In the past viewing video footage had to be done by eye. Law enforcement officers would watch all of the footage in real time, over many hours looking for signs of crime. Error free meticulous observations and record keeping were required to ensure the evidence could not be dismissed at trial.

AI can assist with this burden and is not affected by the human factors of fatigue and distraction when examining CCTV footage. The Video Analytics toolsets from SCC allows for full facial, body and attribute recognition of persons of interest. Once identified, the technology will recognise each and every time that individual appears in any footage, from any camera that was available during the time that a crime took place. This enables the investigating officers to plot movements of individuals, building a route through the crime scene and also identify any individuals who they may have accompanying them.

As the officers build this pattern of movement a comprehensive and unambiguous audit trail is created that will stand the test of court level scrutiny.

Traditionally a toolset such as this would be implemented as a capital expenditure project into a Police Force, requiring dedicated operational IT hardware, extensive data storage capability and a number of highly trained staff. But at a time where Police budgets are under stark review and the desire to ensure that frontline services are paramount, technology investments for video analytics, despite it being increasingly referred to as the ‘third’ forensic (after fingerprints and DNA), have slow adoption. Understanding these pressures SCC has taken a different approach and moved video analytics into the realms of Software as a Service (SaaS).

The migration from on-premise solutions to service-based models has been developing pace within the IT marketplace for over a decade, but with increasing availability of bandwidth, cloud storage and other enabling technologies, complex frontline investigative toolsets such as video analytics can be delivered this way. The immediate benefit to Police Forces is that they can be quickly operational at a lower cost point and, as their demands grow, or when they have a CCTV intensive incident to investigate, this flexible service model can scale.

Operational staff, video ingestion services and case management, can all be provided under this service solution, leaving Police Officers to focus on their core activities of public safety and crime prevention.

This service model allows the underlying platform to benefit from technological advancement whilst negating any cost shocks or major upgrades required by Police Forces to move from one generation of strategic technology to the next. In the foreseeable future video analytics will move from its current role in post-event analysis into real-time monitoring potentially allowing for crime predictions and early interventions.

Police forces are evolving, as are the tools they need for crime investigation, such as video analytics. They now need flexibility, agility and strategic service partnerships to help them investigate crime faster and obtain prosecutions. SCC and the approach it is taking to providing AI based industry-leading video analytics as a service is committed to helping them do that.