In the past decade, advances in mobile digital video recording technology have had a significant impact on law enforcement.
Most people view the use of cameras in patrol cars primarily as a way to collect evidence and protect officers from false accusations. But, in-car video technology goes beyond that by enhancing officer safety and professionalism, improving agency accountability, and assisting in prosecution and case resolution. The following companies provide high-quality in-car video systems to the public safety sector.
Apollo Video Technology
Named in 2011 as the number one supplier of transit bus mobile video surveillance equipment in the Americas, Apollo Video Technology provides reliable, easy-to-use solutions for both public safety and private industry. Their RoadRunner™ Digital Video Recorder is designed specifically for use in mobile applications, and delivers exceptional video quality at a low cost of ownership. The system comes with all the wiring and cables required, providing do-it-yourself turn-key installation, if desired.
Apollo Video’s management software allows for easy fleet-wide system updates, and includes an optional GPS with iSM™ (Interactive Speed and Mapping) Interface. Optional ViM (Vehicle Information Management) and ViM AutoClip software simplifies fleet and video management, and provides temporary or long-term storage for video clips. The DVR meets military specifications for durability against shock and vibration, and comes with a three-year warranty, a lifetime of software updates, and months of data storage.
The system is wireless-ready for use with any TCP/IP based network and is configured to automatically begin recording and continues to record during playback, remote viewing, and archiving functions. Video clips feature optional password protection and system settings are secured with password protected access-rights for up to 64 groups and 256 users. MSRP for Law Enforcement packages start at $4,500 and include a 1.0 TB hard disk drive.
Since 2002, Coban Technologies has been manufacturing and developing in-car video systems for the public safety sector. In 2010, the company introduced its next-generation of digital in-car mobile video recorders, the EDGE, which allows police personnel to capture, transfer, manage, and store video evidence with exacting precision. Tested to MIL STD 810-F for temperature, shock, and vibration, the EDGE features a ruggedized removable hard drive that functions as a backup upload solution if wireless is unavailable.
The EDGE records in H.264 video format and supports up to six cameras, with simultaneous recording from up to five. The camera system features a wide viewing angle with 18X optical and 12X digital zoom, and has IR-cut filters for low light or night mode recording. Checkpoint video transfer allows vehicles to halt a wireless upload and resume transfer from the same point at a later time without data loss.
The EDGE system supports up to three microphones with a wireless mic operating range of up to 1000 feet, and talk time up to 10 hours. Two programmable mic buttons are provided for functions such as mute, snapshot, bookmark, and covert interview. Other features include multiple configurable recording triggers and patent-pending instant replay capability. According to Vice President of Sales and Marketing David Hinojosa, the base in-car system is priced around $4,650.
For over 27 years, Data911 has been a leading developer and manufacturer of rugged in-vehicle computer and digital video systems for both commercial and public safety fleets. Designed to meet the specific challenges facing law enforcement, the company’s Mobile Digital Video (MDV) System is a complete video management system available in three configurations: tethered to an on-board computer or laptop; an independently powered standalone, and a standalone hybrid.
Hardware includes front and rear compact video cameras, a wireless microphone system, and an optional bullet camera for license plate reads. MobileVid front-end software provides touch-screen functionality, exportation of files to the computer’s external drive, and the ability to record and review simultaneously. The browser-based VidNet system offers full search capability of server-stored information, and provides all the tools necessary for effective video evidence management.
Other features include live streaming video to any secure location, real-time mapping that can be integrated with incident playback, and continuous or incident-triggered video and audio capture. Data911 offers free evaluation trials for all their products, and can provide individual quotes based on the customer’s specific needs. Prices for the MDV system range from $2,900 to $4,900 depending upon configuration, fleet size and other criteria.
For over 50 years, Decatur Electronics has been a leading provider of traffic enforcement technology for public safety agencies. In 2000, the company expanded its product line to include police in-car video systems. The Responder 1000 is its third-generation in-car video system that is flexible, affordable and easy to operate. The DVR is a state-of-the-art 120GB removable hard drive that provides 3.5 days of full-time recording, and features programmable pre-event recording for capturing evidence and delivering it to court.
Built to military standards, the Responder 1000’s compact design allows for multiple mounting options inside the vehicle. With a 3.5-inch LCD monitor, the system’s front camera – and optional rear camera - provides 10X zoom and .25 lux sensitivity for clear video capture in all lighting conditions. The microphone component is offered as an external lapel mic or a built-in internal mic, and allows the officer to trigger video recording at the push of a button.
The Responder 1000 File Manager simplifies video transfer and evidence retrieval, and provides easy-to-use tags and organizational tools for effective video and report management. The system sells for approximately $3,500, depending on features, with back-office docks priced at around $300.
Utilizing the newest generation of technology, Digital Ally specializes in advanced digital video police cameras and law enforcement equipment. The DVM-750 is a digital video system integrated into a rear-view mirror that is easily installed in any make or model vehicle without taking up extra space. The system features two-camera simultaneous recording, four-channel audio recording, and utilizes the latest h.264 codec and D1 resolution for high-quality video imaging.
The DVM-750 offers additional functionality with live streaming video capability, centralized live access and management to all cameras in one dashboard, and real-time and archived video-sharing between agencies via the Web, without proprietary software. Other features include integrated GPS with “mark” feature and pre-event recording up to 60 seconds of action before activating the record mode.
Digital Ally’s VoiceVault™ Advanced Wireless Mic offers optimal extended range, voice-optimized audio and noise filtering, and can be charged in-cradle or via a USB port. An ultra-bright sunlight visible 3.5-inch monitor allows easier viewing in all conditions, and the compact color in-car camera features a special low-light night mode. The new VideoManager™ II software provides easy search and retrieve capability and efficient management of video files. The DVM-750 is priced at just under $5,000 and includes software.
For over 20 years, Eagleye has been providing reliable state-of-the-art mobile video systems for law enforcement agencies. The company recently introduced CopTrax™, a software-based system that utilizes the mobile data terminal (MDT) in the patrol car and does not require a mounted standalone DVR. This cost-effective alternative to standard DVR-based systems eliminates equipment failures and extends product life.
Features of the CopTrax™ solution include live streaming video, real-time GPS location, and automatic wireless downloading directly from the vehicle. The system documents all audio and video incidents, eliminating false accusations, frivolous lawsuits, and agency liability, while increasing the likelihood of successful prosecution. The software uses a Web-based application that can be accessed from any Internet device via an SSL connection, and provides multiple access permissions for security.
CompTrax™ offers an evidence “tagging” feature that allows officers to define an incident, “tag” the event, and enter notes, greatly reducing time spent documenting and reviewing events for future prosecution. It also acts as a crime mapping tool to identify crime hot spots that may require additional police presence. When requests from the community for increased patrol visits are received, the system generates e-mail notifications, indicating the agency has taken appropriate action in response to those requests. Basic pricing for the CompTrax™ system is $4,995.
For over 50 years Federal Signal has been providing innovative technology solutions that stand up to the day-to-day demands of the public safety community. Their DTX In-Car Video System is a reliable mobile solution that features two internal cameras, and pre-event recording that can be drawn from live memory just before an officer begins to record. Capable of providing over 95 channels in frequencies from 2400-2483 MHz, the powerful wireless microphone can perform in a 1,500-ft. line of sight range with a 10-hour charge.
The DTX In-Car Video System features a built-in DVR with 64 GB of local video storage, and records video in D1, one of the highest video standards available. DTX COMMAND and DTX-ADS software efficiently manages search and review of recorded video files, and downloads video from the mobile DVR via wireless or a wired network connection to a central location.
With Federal Signal’s exclusive Fleet Health Monitoring, the condition of each DVR is tracked and reported back to the Command Center, alerting technical services of any malfunctions. The DTX 2-Car System is offered in two versions: DTX-System-1 with a DVR and Client Software, and DTX-System-2 with a DVR and 4.5-inch control monitor. Both systems have a list price of $3,995.
As a Safety Vision company, ICOP is a leading global provider of mobile video solutions for the law enforcement, military and Homeland Security markets. The ICOP Model 20/20®-W is a digital in-car video recorder system capable of live streaming video to multiple authorized viewers for real-time situational awareness. With a 40 GB vehicle-grade removable hard drive or a 32 GB solid state drive in shock-resistant case, the ICOP Model 20/20®-W provides up to 16 hours of real-time recording in high resolution mode.
The ICOP Model 20/20®-W operates up to three cameras and three audio sources, records up to two cameras simultaneously, and features pre-event recording of up to 60 seconds. The system supports both wireless and Ethernet uploads, and is capable of recording directly to a DVD in-vehicle. The ICOP EXTREME™ Wireless Mic system uses a 900MHz transceiver and provides superior range (over 2,000 feet, direct line of sight). In-vehicle classification codes are customizable by system administrators for easy video search and retrieval.
With the ICOP iVAULT Media Management System (MMS), users can securely store and manage video files, as well as share them with other authorized personnel. Pricing of the ICOP Model 20/20®-W is based on specific configurations tailored to each agency’s requirements. The company offers volume discounts and interested parties can request a demonstration.
Since 1987, Mobile-Vision has utilized the power of multiple converging technologies to deliver innovative in-car video and data management solutions to law enforcement. In 2005 it was acquired by L-3 Communications, a leading provider of C³ISR systems for military and commercial applications, and was re-named L-3 Communications Mobile-Vision. FLASHBACK2™ is a digital in-car video solution that features a 3.5-inch color monitor with backlit control panel, hands-free operation, and D1 resolution.
The standard in-car system includes the FLASHBACK2™ in-car digital video recorder, wireless 802.11 (a/g) LAN card and antenna, and Nite-Watch™ extended low-light color camera. 8 GB, 16 GB and 32 GB compact flash memory provides for 8-32 hours of recording time. The newly upgraded VoiceLink Plus® 2.4 GHz DSS wireless microphone system features automatic activation, and an emergency button that can be integrated into the vehicle’s communications system.
L-3 Mobile-Vision offers two FLASHBACK2™ Video Management Solutions: the Digital Evidence Viewer (DEV) and Digital Evidence Pro (DEP). A standalone workstation version of the evidence management solution, the DEV solution is ideal for smaller agencies with fleets of less than 18 vehicles. The DEP is a server class, network-based system that allows agencies to securely access evidence from any network-connected PC through a simple web browser and no special client PC software. Agencies interested in purchasing the FLASHBACK2™ may contact the company for a price quote.
In business since 1957, Martel Electronics is a global manufacturer of police digital in-car mobile video systems. Their new DC3 Digital Cruiser is so small it fits in the palm of your hand. It features solid state technology, easy-to-learn three-button operation, wireless police car camera downloading, and 802.11 wireless video-file transfer capabilities.
The Martel DC3 Digital Cruiser records directly to a 128GB SDHC card that holds 300 hours of recording time. A USB card reader is included for direct video downloading, and can be erased and re-used 1 million times. Pre-event recording captures up to two minutes of video before activation and easily documents probable cause. The new police car camera video marking feature allows the officer to “mark” the spot on the video for later reference. Event tags can be customized to each police camera system to meet an agency’s unique needs.
The 2.4 GHz digital wireless microphone features 40 digitals channels that allow numerous systems to operate in close proximity without interference, and automatically turns on when the system is activated. With Martel’s Police Camera Video Management Software, a two-hour video can be burned to a playable DVD for use in court cases in less than five minutes. The DC3 installs in minutes and is priced at $2,995.
Motorola’s innovative solutions deliver the seamless connectivity and real-time information needed by public safety personnel during mission critical events. The MVX1000 In-Car Digital Video System offers an intuitive user interface that allows first responders to focus on the situation at hand. The solid-state hard drive records video, audio, and GPS location that can be downloaded to the server wirelessly or over a wire.
MIL-STD-810G tested and IP-54-sealed, the MVX1000 withstands heat, cold, humidity, vibration, dust and other hazards. With its compact size, the DVR unit can be installed in the trunk or the passenger cabin, making optimum use of vehicle space. Advanced video storage and processing makes it easy to find, manage and export video evidence. The back-end software has powerful correlation capabilities that allow in-vehicle video and data to be synchronized and combined with fixed-video and voice into a single incident.
The MVX1000 can provide live streaming video when used with Motorola’s Real-Time Video Intelligence (RTVI) software. RTVI adjusts to available bandwidth, ensuring high-quality streaming video not only to the command center, but between vehicles or to handheld devices. This capability allows supervisors to observe events in real time and then utilize that information to deploy the appropriate resources. Pricing for the MVX1000 system ranges from $4,500 to $5,000 per vehicle.
As the world’s largest manufacturer of in-car video systems, WatchGuard was honored in 2010 and 2011 as one of the top 100 fastest-growing profitable companies in North Texas. With 720p high definition resolution, the WatchGuard 4RE HD Wireless In-Car Video System provides superior image clarity and faster upload times, while simultaneously using less overall file storage. “Record-After-the-Fact” technology allows users to go back in time and capture important video that was not originally recorded, helping to solve hundreds of criminal cases and enabling agencies to avoid countless lawsuits.
Video is recorded twice with a removable, secured USB Flash Thumb Drive and Automotive Grade Hard Drive, while the Automatic Record Overflow keeps recording after the flash drive is full. Using an advanced, industrial-grade 802.11n radio system and sophisticated antennas, the 4RE HD provides optimum wireless transfer speeds. The graphical user interface is easy to understand and features a 4.3-inch touchscreen, multi-camera split-screen viewing, and direct access buttons for common functions.
WatchGuard prides itself on investing more into research and development than any other company on the market, and currently has nine patents pending related to 4RE’s technology. Agencies interested in the WatchGuard 4RE HD system can take advantage of a recently extended six-month money-back guarantee. Pricing varies and is custom quoted based on the individual needs of each agency.
Susan Geoghegan is a freelance writer living in Naples, Fla. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.