Rare is the criminal case in modern policing that does not involve digital evidence. Consider these examples; body worn camera video, surveillance video, interviews and statements, crime scene photos, social networking exhibits, departmental forms, 911 center media, and cell carrier records. How does your agency manage digital evidence?
Optical media, such as CD and DVD are an obvious choice for many agencies. They are not without their pitfalls, however. Optical media can be difficult to uniformly label, store and organize. Further, optical media degrades over time due to its construction and it can easily be damaged. Environmental factors can accelerate degradation of the media. Optical media is also labor intensive in that burning discs takes time. If the content is ever needed for court purposes, ideally the disc should be duplicated so as to protect the original. A fall from a case folder coupled with a brief slide across the pavement may be all it takes to render an optical media unreadable. As the size of digital evidence increases optical media’s capacity limitations will soon prove problematic. While the 4.7 GB capacity of a standard single-sided single-layer DVD was a lot of room in the mid 1990’s, it doesn’t take long to reach that ceiling with high definition video and 20 Megapixel+ digital photos.
Cloud storage is often pointed to as the ideal solution. Certainly the capacity limitations are gone, but what about your Internet connection’s ability to upload large files quickly? Consumer broadband Internet connections long ago sold their soul to download speeds at the expense of uploads. You can check the speed of your Internet connection by heading over to http://www.speedtest.net. Consider that a DVD worth of data, 4.7 GB, would take nearly 2 hours to send to the cloud if the upload speed of your connection is 6 Mbps. The next often cited concern is security. How can we be sure that the digital evidence we sent up to cloud storage is exactly the same as when we bring it back down for courtroom authentication? Digital evidence storage, even in a cloud environment, can still be difficult to organize such that you can quickly identify the file(s) required.
The PDEVIDENCE Evidence Management System™ addresses almost all of these concerns. The one issue left to you to decide is the appropriate Internet connection to handle your agency’s needs. PDEVIDENCE is a cloud solution from the day you get started. Digital evidence is added to PDEVIDENCE using the same proven workflow as traditional physical evidence. Once uploaded, digital evidence is immediately subjected to a SHA-1 hash to memorialize the digital fingerprint of the file. This hash value may be used later to verify the file is identical to the original. PDEVIDENCE also employs tagging; a feature where keywords are associated with digital evidence uploads to make finding them later much easier. Automatic tagging is a process where PDEVIDENCE utilizes an intelligent digital picture processor to “see” the content of digital pictures and automatically assign tags. A death scene, for example, may include hundreds of digital pictures, but finding those that depict a handgun, or a Ford pickup for that matter, is made simple with automatic tagging. Users are also free to add their own tags to further increase the accuracy of searches.