We pride ourselves on being an “all-in-one” solution in a variety of facets. For example, organizations frequently use the Visual Labs system for their body worn camera, in-car camera, and interview room camera needs. In addition to videos, users can take photographs, audio recordings, live video streams, and photo sequences (for low bandwidth or surveillance needs) within the Visual Labs application. All of these can be accomplished on a single device and, in many cases, simultaneously (e.g. taking photographs while video and/or audio recording).
In this blog post, we will discuss yet another way Visual Labs functions as an all-in-one digital evidence system – the ability to upload external content. We will focus on two types of content: 1) items uploaded directly by an organization’s user (via two different mechanisms) and 2) items uploaded from a member of the public using a “public upload portal invitation.”
Workflow 1A: Direct Upload Using the Visual Labs Website
Suppose a Visual Labs fish and wildlife agency has access to a trail camera that captures a violation. A game warden may want to upload a video snippet from this trail camera to go along with body worn camera footage, still photographs, and a recorded telephone call taken within the Visual Labs application. The user can login to the Visual Labs website and upload the trail camera video along with the date, time, caption (e.g. case number), tags, location, and retention policy. If configured, the user can even immediately drop it into the designated prosecution “bucket” for direct access by relevant attorneys. At a later date, users can easily search for the content alongside of other footage.
Workflow 1B: Direct Upload from the Visual Labs Application
Users can also upload external content from the Visual Labs Android application. It is as easy as attaching a photo to an email or sharing a video on social media. Using the familiar “share” functionality, a user can upload nearly any item they have on their phone, such as an image sent by a victim via MMS, a PDF sent to them via Signal Messenger, a video downloaded from social media, or screenshots of text conversations. Just as with website uploads, a user can add metadata, such as a case number. As always, the uploads are subject to various reasonable size constraints and a virus check.
Workflow 2: Public Portal Uploads
In many cases, the footage the agency wants to upload into the Visual Labs evidence management system originates from a member of the public (e.g. a home Ring camera video). It is often inefficient or impractical to have the citizen send the footage to a police officer, only for them to have to download it and re-upload it into Visual Labs. By sending a “public upload invitation,” an officer can solicit items from one or more members of the public. Using a personalized email link, each citizen can securely upload the relevant items using an easy drag-and-drop interface. The uploaded items are automatically associated with any metadata set by the officer, as well as any narrative provided by the citizen. This feature has been a popular, newer complement to the workflows described above. Sergeant Nate Weiske at the Fontana, California Police Department explained: “The officers really like the new functionality. It’s going to save them a lot of time and help us build better cases!”
Looking ahead in 2023, we see a lot of potential to further expand these capabilities and streamline an organization’s workflow to gather and store evidence among a variety of systems and constituents. To all our blog readers, thanks for sharing the journey with us, and Happy New Year!