Firefighter creates live-streaming body cam with reliable storage solution
The Oncall body camera has the capability to transmit live video, audio, high quality snapshots, and GPS location in real time back to a command center
By Loraine Burger
East St. Louis firefighter Rob Schield has been creating helmet cams for firefighters for years, and will soon unveil his newest product: a multi-functional lapel camera along with a video evidence management system that allows police departments to store and manage their videos.
The Oncall body camera has the capability to transmit live video, audio, high quality snapshots, and GPS location in real time back to a command center or dispatch center while simultaneously recording video on the body camera unit.
Recorded footage is transmitted to a secure server where anyone with administrative rights to the Oncall app can access the footage. Schield said the delay in streaming video is only about a half of a second.
“Each police officer can choose to either record only to the body camera or to simultaneously record to the camera and stream the live video to the server,” Schield said
“The live streaming system has several benefits. It increases the safety of police officers in the line of duty by giving dispatch and other police live situational awareness of incidents as they are occurring. It also allows a recorded copy of the video to instantly be stored offisite, safeguarding the evidence even if the body camera is damaged or lost.
“An officer with admin rights can open the app, select the officer in the field, and get an exact location of the officer with live video of what’s happening,” he said.
The app’s interface (shown on the left) shows a list of officers in the field who are live-streaming with the Oncall body camera. An administrator can select by drag and drop as many as nine live-streams to view them simultaneously on the right side of the screen.
Detachable, long-lasting battery
One of the features most important to Schield when developing the Oncall camera was battery life – which is why his device includes a detachable battery for quick and easy replacement.
The Oncall body camera can utilize up to 64 GB of memory when needed, so that every police encounter is accounted for.
The camera also has a wide-angle lens plus infrared technology for recording at night, and pre-event recording, which can capture up to two minutes of footage prior to activating the record button on the camera.
Thanks to innovations developed when Schield created the helmet-mounted Fire Cam, the Oncall camera can withstand higher temperatures as it’s body is made of an anodized aluminum and the lens is constructed of heat-resistant glass.
Another feature called the Live Snapshot allows the second party officer who’s viewing the footage to take a snapshot of the live-streaming video at a higher resolution than the video stream itself. This feature is ideal if a highly detailed image such as a face, for example, is being captured. The Snapshot button on the app takes a high-quality JPEG image without disrupting the live-streaming video, and provides the admin with the photo in a few seconds, Schield said.
The snapshot can then be sent out in an email or message providing a quick way for police to share images of persons or vehicles of interest. All snapshots are securely saved by the cloud server.
Evidence that holds up in court
When the DOJ released a report this year outlining the necessity of clear evidence management systems for patrol footage, Schield listened, and the result is Oncall’s cloud storage vault.
“You have to be able to prove that the video evidence has not been altered and you know how it has been handled at every point from capturing to the courtroom,” Schield said.
“Our system does not allow access to the recordings on the camera until it has been uploaded to the server. From there you can download copies of the video to work with, but the recording is always kept in its original state at the server along with the metadata.
“The system keeps an audit trail of every action taken so there is complete transparency over the history of the recordings. You can also define roles in your department in terms of who has what permission to access video recordings so the system can easily be adapted to fit your department’s processes for handling video evidence.”
With the Oncall system, all video is recorded in high-quality through the camera and streaming-quality through the mobile network that uses much less data, so that any footage deemed non-evidentiary (such as standard traffic stops) can be saved in streaming-quality, which reduces the amount of storage space needed and provides savings to the department.
“One thing a lot of departments don’t realize is the need for evidence management systems. Your agency is required to hold onto all video footage for 45 days to a year [varying from state-to-state] and departments are getting overrun with the cost of storing video. Oncall provides an effective way to deal with the cost of storage.”
Schield has been testing the Oncall camera system with Belleville, (Ill.) Police, an 80-officer department who he says is thrilled with the quality of live-streaming video.
Oncall agents offer live demonstrations of the Oncall camera, app, and evidence management software to law enforcement agencies around the country.
Every component of the camera is replaceable at no cost, plus the device comes with a one-year damage warranty.