The Body-worn Evolution

The Body-worn Evolution

How the integration of wearable video and VMS is enabling new situational awareness across an enterprise

What once began as technology typically reserved and embraced by law enforcement, wearable video continues to find applications and use-cases in a host of new verticals and industries. Adding a body worn camera solution into an existing surveillance system allows businesses to centralize video footage and manage it all from their Video Management System (VMS), adding yet another layer to security detection and protection with numerous other benefits to reap from adoption.

Police departments, first responders and government security personnel were among early adopters of body worn camera technology, but other markets are moving to take advantage of these surveillance systems for cost savings, training, validation, deterrence, documentation, incident review, and transparency and employee safety.

With many realized benefits to deployment, users are spanning many entities, including retail, private security, commercial, healthcare, stadiums/event venues, education, public transportation, casinos and banking.

Market Snapshot
These wearable cameras offer various advantages to users, such as simple mechanics, robust design, wide field of view, portability, and functionality to be worn on the body, and providing high-quality videos. Moreover, the technological advancements in sharing options, such as GPS functions and Wi-Fi connectivity enable the users to keep track of their position and speed.

The ability to connect to the internet and enable data exchange between network and device is also among the major driving factors leading to the technology’s increasing popularity. In security, safety and other applications, adding a body worn solution to augment an existing surveillance system allows users to centralize security video footage and manage it all from their network video recorder (NVR) and VMS. In every market, body worn cameras provide an additional, higher level of situational awareness for the wearer, the user and the facility.

Body worn cameras eliminate the “he said, she said” interactions that occur between customers and employees or workers and team members. Audio-enabled video recordings verify incidents and situations, and integrate with other onsite cameras for an even more complete, holistic view of events and interactions. Because they are deployed with on premise servers as a local recording solution or hosted in the cloud, the user has flexibility in deployment and easy scalability.

Technology Overview
Body-worn cameras are lightweight wearable recording devices are affixed on clothing or to belts and accessories. The video, which includes time/date indicators and GPS coordinates, directly integrate into NVRs/VMS through open platforms.

Solutions typically consist of cameras and docking station, system controller and the video storage and include a variety of mounting accessories to tailor the unit to the wearer and the application. The docking station, in single or multiple bays, provides the mechanism for offloading video from the camera and recharging the camera battery. The system controller works in conjunction with the docking station, storing video temporarily until it is uploaded to the VMS for local recording, or sent for cloud storage. The body-worn camera also supports live video feed support through WiFi and cellular communications. The video and audio from the body-worn cameras is encrypted both at rest and in transit to meet security and privacy requirements.

Integration Carves a Total Solution
Support for body worn cameras through VMS integration fosters more robust capabilities, scalability and best-in-class cybersecurity practices and yields a holistic, unified solution. In addition to the importance of video quality, viewing, storing and managing recorded video from body worn cameras is critical. It needs to be securely stored and maintained to retain integrity of the video and associated data for future retrieval in line with the expectations of VMS solutions. That is where the importance of the VMS enters. The VMS and its software need to seamlessly interact with the camera – while providing functionality like the ability to organize and search through footage from multiple sources arranged by time, date, location and user.

Managed as part of the network, body worn cameras become another security asset that can correspond to other surveillance, such as video captured by a fixed camera outside a retail location or at campus sports stadiums or public venues. When an incident occurs, video from the body worn camera, surveillance inside the store and any other acquired footage provides a complete picture of the event from multiple vantages and devices.

Consider these five use-cases for body worn cameras:

Healthcare. Leveraged in healthcare, assisted living or other patient-oriented facilities, body worn surveillance protects both patients and personnel. Hospital security officers who are often first responders to incidents, need to detail interactions. In addition, healthcare workers for patient monitoring, management and documentation of patient interactions can use body worn cameras.

Education. Providing greater overall situational awareness to campus security and school resource staff, wearable video devices can document security tours and assist at sports arenas during events for crowd management, possible issues with crowds of confrontational individuals or duress situations. In our video-centric society where students might be recording incidents on their smartphones, body worn cameras provide an equal tool to capture encounters accurately for greater transparency, accountability and liability protection. In addition, they often prevent events from escalating when cameras observe situations.

Retail/customer service. Offering an opportunity for users to evaluate and optimize service, body-worn cameras create more responsive customer engagement and overall improved experience in many different businesses. They can assess and monitor curbside pickup efficiencies. Things like “no mask” events, delivery problems, retail point-of-sale transactions and other areas where a disagreement or problem may arise can benefit from video documentation and ensure smoother interactions with the public.

Commercial. Body-worn cameras run the gamut in use-cases in commercial markets and facilities. Assisting security personnel with general tasks, crowd management and behavior management for public interaction, these devices also provide liability protection and keep information transparent for follow-up or evidence. These devices can confirm a slip and fall for insurance purposes, identify individuals trespassing at a commercial warehouse or detect theft of goods. In transportation logistics, body worn cameras add checks and balances to procedures and provide real-world training tools.

Policy and procedure compliance. Body-worn cameras visually monitor policy adherence and evaluate risks. In the energy sector, utilities, and mining operations or for lone-worker safety, body-worn cameras protect workers and document adherence to regulatory compliance. In general, operations safety, video provides recording of incidents or used for training staff. Lone workers at remote sites can use these devices for real-time support and documenting maintenance or site work challenges.

New Users Emerging
Traditional video surveillance has become an indispensable and multi-purpose tool. It can be used for intrusion detection and identification or in facility operations to assure, proper procedures and regulations are followed or as video evidence for workforce injury or other potential points of liability.

Body-worn cameras are now emerging as another essential component of security, safety and enhanced situational awareness, presenting new use cases and opportunities for systems integrators. Bolstered by the ability to integrate, control and manage these devices like other surveillance assets through a centralized NVR and VMS platform creates the potential for numerous business expansion possibilities.

This article originally appeared in the November / December 2021 issue of Security Today.

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