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Are Docking Stations Obsolete?

April 01, 2019

Many body camera systems require the use of a docking station to upload body camera footage — but are they becoming obsolete? Docking stations present a number of challenges: setup and management, time to upload, and excessive costs. On the other hand, BWC footage can be uploaded automatically over a cellular network or Wi-Fi when using smartphones.

Problems with Docking Stations

Peoria Public Radio/Tanya Koonce

  1. Docking Stations can be Difficult Set Up and Manage
  2. Some agencies avoid purchasing body cameras because of the IT demands associated with setup: WAN Ethernet Ports, LAN Ethernet Ports, Power Ports, Bridge Adaptors, etc. There are also the typical hardware difficulties and warranties to deal with — One police department complained that body cameras were easily damaged by docking stations.
  3. Footage Must be Uploaded after Shift at a Central Location
  4. Cameras must be docked at the end of the shift for footage to upload. This means that there may be critical incidents that are unable to be viewed until the shift ends. Further, officers working off-duty or away from the central docking location need to dock the cameras to upload and charge, wasting valuable time and leading to added overtime costs. Which leads to the final point…
  5. Docking Stations can be Very Expensive
  6. One large body camera vendor's docking stations cost $1,500 each. Docking stations often require special wiring of departments, and wiring of stations can be the biggest expense of body cameras.

Benefits of Automatic Upload

  1. Minimal IT Needed
  2. Upload is accomplished over a cellular network or Wi-Fi, immediately after a recording is finished. Some solutions that offer automatic upload require additional hardware such as a car router. With Visual Labs however, no docks, ports, adaptors, station wiring, or any external hardware is needed.
  3. Increased Operational Efficiency
  4. Footage is accessible after immediate upload. Police officers don't have to worry about returning to the station to dock their body cameras. Officers who start their shifts from home or a substation don't have to have go to a central location to pick up and dock cameras.
  5. Cost Savings
  6. No docking station, station wiring, IT, or overtime costs.

Conclusion

The ease of use, operational efficiency, and cost savings of automatic upload make docking stations look like technology of the past. It seems apparent that this antiquated apparatus will soon go by the wayside.

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