The aftermath of widespread rioting in Vancouver, British Columbia during June 2011 left police with a tsunami of evidence, at least 5,000 hours of video images captured by outdoor surveillance cameras. However, the authorities had no practical way to make sense of the jumble of footage.
A crowd watches smoke arise in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia during the June 2011 hockey riots. The image of the riot area is from video collected by police. The riot involved approximately 150,000 people who ravaged downtown Vancouver, causing $4 million in damage, following the Vancouver Canucks loss to the Boston Bruins for the Stanley Cup Finals. A similar hockey riot in 1994 yielded few arrests, despite a bounty of video evidence, and officials were concerned that only a handful of rioters would be held accountable for their actions this time.
The massive quantity of potential evidence would prove useful only if police could find a way to deal with it effectively.
Luckily great strides have been made in the availability of video as well as the quality of forensic analysis of video in law enforcement. The VPD’s Integrated Riot Investigation Team (IRIT) engaged 50 volunteer forensic analysts from the Law Enforcement and Emergency Services Video Association (LEVA) to cull through the video that was captured in more than 100 digital formats.
The team used an advanced video-processing software and hardware-processing system, Ocean System’s Omnivore digital video-capture drive. The capture software and “video optimization” feature sampled the original video’s frame rate and screen size, and then adjusted the video-captured settings so video is displayed without dropping frames.
The results have been astonishing. By piecing together video from numerous sources analysts identified 15,000 criminal acts, which have resulted in 500 charges against 85 rioters. The investigation is ongoing as the pictures of suspects have been posted on the VPD website.
“It has been very successful,” said Mike Fergus, program manager-Technology Center, International Association of Chiefs of Police and a former LEVA official.
The Vancouver experience is emblematic of the larger trend facing law enforcement and government agencies, Fergus said. Video recording technology is omnipresent and even expected.
“Law enforcement has learned how valuable video evidence can be in an investigation,” Fergus said. “Now the first thing a prosecutor will ask, ‘Is there any video?’”
Vislink’s AirStream A number of companies are offering new products that can quickly get outdoor surveillance video to the command center. Vislink, a Massachusetts company, offers AirStream, which provides instant video communications
from an incident to the command center. It uses WiFi and 3G/4G cellular technology and first responders can provide command staff with tactical imagery with the push of a button as soon as they arrive on scene, said Jacqueline Roy, Vislink’s director of marketing.
Toshiba’s IK-WR14A Toshiba’s newest contribution to the outdoor surveillance market is the IK-WR14A, a twomegapixel Internet protocol network dome camera that reduces installation time with its incorporation of remote optical zoom and one-touch remote focus, said Dan O’Connell, company spokesman. The camera features a new cable management system based on time saving Power over Ethernet. The camera captures 1080p full HD resolution video at 30 frames-per-second, indoors or outdoors, and H.264 compression saves valuable bandwidth while offering enhanced image quality, he said.
The camera also solves the problems posed by extreme lighting environments. The camera features Toshiba’s Single Reflection LED (SRLED) technology providing edge-to-edge lighting for night-vision down to 0 lux. Built-in day/night infrared filters remove unnecessary colors in near complete darkness for the sharpest black-and-white image, O’Connell said.
Panasonic’s WV-SF 342 surveillance camera Panasonic’s vandal-resistant dome cameras—such as the WV-SF 342 camera—are sturdy and dependable and able to withstand the harshest of treatment, said Greg Peratt, Panasonic Video Solutions Integration’s national sales director. In addition, Panasonic’s facial identification software enhances the features of a human face, making identifications quicker and easier, he said.
Panasonic also offers the Toughbook Arbitrator 360°, an in-car digital video system that can support up to six cameras in one police cruiser for comprehensive evidence capture, Peratt said. Panasonic offers multiple features built into the systems, including auto-tracking, video motion detection, face detection and network video recorders (NVRs).
It is likely more outdoor surveillance cameras will be used by municipalities and other organizations, said Dennis Lewis, a former police officer and president of Edu-Safe, a school safety development provider. “Video surveillance has become accepted,” Lewis said.