Enterprise Forensic Video Capture

Kevin Marti is currently president and CEO of Intelligent Video Solutions, Pewaukee Wisconsin. Kevin has over 30 years of experience in IT Systems, Video Solutions and software development. Kevin has written and published 5 books and is currently working on his 6th titled, The Gift of Leadership. Kevin is a graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Business School. Kevin resides in Wisconsin with his wife Julie. Together they have four adult children.

Defining Enterprise and the Benefits, Challenges and Risks in Deploying Enterprise Video Capture Solutions for Police/Law Enforcement Interview, Child Custody Consultation, Government Hearings and Private Sector Investigation and Evaluation Applications.

What does it mean to provide an enterprise video interview solution?

Forensic Interview Capture – defined as “a direct, goal oriented interview for the purpose of allowing interviewees to tell stories and provide detailed information about a particular event” (Workspaces) is nothing new. Since the video recorder was introduced in the 1970’s, governments and the private sector have been using video to capture interviews in order to bring truth to justice.

For years the technology that filled this need was rather straightforward and simple. To say the least these systems would not be described as “enterprise”.

They were typified as a camera in an interview room (hidden or not) along with a microphone that ran to a VCR usually in an observation room adjoining the interview room. If you had multiple interview rooms you typically had multiple VCR’s in an equipment rack. If you had multiple locations with multiple interview rooms it meant that you had islands of equipment and information operating and stored independently of each other.

This solution of course had drawbacks. They included management of all of the tapes which soon became DVD’s and maintaining the mechanical recording devices that would eventually wear out. However there were some great advantages to these solutions, one being they were extremely simple and easy to use. It was fairly easy to teach law enforcement personnel how to initiate a recording as most of the public had these devices in their homes and were familiar with the big red record button found on most VCR’s.

A huge drawback to this solution was if you had multiple sites with multiple users your information was typically isolated to its place of origin or its author. The information was not available to the enterprise but was rather localized and departmentalized.

What is interesting is that as our technology changed and became digital we made some gains but we also encountered some set-backs. The VCR was replaced by the DVR. Instead of having tapes and DVD’s we had digital files. The management of the video was easier but the risk of data loss became greater. Many solutions also took a step backwards in ease of use because the big red record button was replaced with a GUI – which many people misunderstood to be something on the bottom of your shoe after stepping on recently discarded chewing gum – a sticky mess.  We also did not see much improvement either in terms of information sharing. Most of these systems went in as departmentalized/localized solutions.

The Major shortcomings of departmental solutions include disparate data, which is hard to access across the enterprise, and disparate or non-standard systems which are difficult to maintain and support. In many cases departments in the same enterprise deployed different solutions from different manufacturers which meant employees had to learn different systems when traveling throughout the enterprise.

An enterprise solution breaks down the barriers of a departmental solution and offers the organization a system that is not characterized by department or local. The data is available at an enterprise level and accessible with proper rights to people across the enterprise.

departmental vs. enterprise

This brings us to the definition of an enterprise system. According to Technopedia “An enterprise application (EA) is a large system platform designed to operate in a corporate environment such as business or government. EA’s are complex, scalable, component based, distributed and mission critical”. Wikipedia further defines “Enterprise software, also known as enterprise application software (EAS) is computer software used to satisfy the needs of an organization rather than individual users.”

The reason large organization trend toward enterprise applications is because of the benefits that they offer over localized solutions. These benefits include:

  • Access – In an enterprise solution users are provided with a single access point. Data is no longer stored on disparate systems but in a single repository which makes it accessible with proper rights to anybody across the enterprise.
  • Standardization – Enterprise solutions forces the hardware and software utilized to become standard and common. This makes the solution simpler to support across the enterprise technically. Also, since the user interface is standard in all locations users only need to learn one interface which should make the solution simpler to utilize.
  • Manageability – With an enterprise system manageability is simplified due to the fact that you are reducing the number of systems that you are required to manage and by the standardization that has been created. The entire system can be managed easier through what many firms call “a single pane of glass”.

Risks & Challenges

There are of course risks and challenges associated with implementing an enterprise application. Because an enterprise application inherently requires connectivity one of the biggest risks is data security. To minimize the risk of data breach multiple security technologies are required to protect data from falling into the wrong hands. The key word here is multiple. A single security technology is not sufficient.  The multiple security technologies typically include:

  • Encryption of data and video – As user names and passwords are entered into the system the data needs to be encrypted so that they cannot be stolen or hijacked in use. In addition the video streams which are being transmitted to users workstations need to be encrypted so that they are not viewable by hackers monitoring the data network.
  • Unique user names and passwords – In an enterprise system generic or common user names are not acceptable. Each user requires their own user name and password. Best practices integrate with the organizations corporate credentialing system. This typically requires Active Directory, LDAP or SAML integration with corporate IT systems.
  • Network Architecture – In an enterprise video solution network system architecture is extremely important. Best practice isolates video cameras on a secure v-lan prohibiting direct access from any network device. The video is routed only through the secure VMS platform with proper credentials.
  • User rights and permissions – It is one thing for users to have access to the video management system but what they can do when they have access is a whole other discussion. The system must provide a granular permissions and rights structure. The rights and permissions not only need to grant and revoke access to the system but also to its features. This is extremely important as not all users and groups require every feature. By limiting features it not only simplifies operation of the system but also secures rooms and recorded content to only its intended users.
  • Access Control – In addition to rights and permissions access control allows when and how long users and groups have access much like access control on a building. Access is controlled by date and time and in most cases provides a time out feature for temporary users and groups.
  • Audit Trails – Audit trails provide extensive logs which track user access and actions while logged into the system along with which devices are being used to access the system. The audit trails provide critical management and oversight of user access and content.

In addition to security, reliability and backup is a key requirement of an enterprise system. When a departmental solution fails it is a problem; however, when an enterprise system fails it is a crisis. Thus, reliability and backup is critical. Enterprise systems must be built from the ground up with enterprise components which are designed to support these systems.

In a video application the critical components typically include the operating system, web-server, database, file storage and video engine. Each of these components needs to be enterprise industry standard components which run on enterprise hardware backed up and managed using industry standard backup utilities.

This brings us to the third critical requirement of an enterprise application. If it is not already obvious we will state that a positive, working, collaborative relationship with IT is absolutely required. It is impossible to implement an enterprise application without buy in and cooperation with IT.

Lastly the solution must be extremely simple and easy to use. If it is not this is a huge risk to the organization as the solution will go unused and it will need to be replaced sooner than anticipated. The system must be “the big red record button” simple since the application is inherently used by people that are not strong IT users. This means that the complexity that is a requirement of the enterprise application must be completely hidden from the user and their experience. The “workflow” for the user must be simple and straightforward and allow them to do their job easily and effectively.

 

Conclusion

It should be fairly obvious that the need for Forensic Interview Capture is only going to grow in our society. As it does there will be a greater need for enterprise applications to handle this need due to the shortcomings of departmental solutions. However, organizations must realize that with the benefits of an enterprise application that there are also risks and challenges that must be overcome in order to implement a successful enterprise interview recording solution. The good news is that when these risks and challenges are properly addressed and anticipated the result will be an effective organizational tool that will help bring truth to justice and its surrounding community.