Frontline police officers in NSW could soon have their firearms, tasers and body-worn video cameras linked to capture video and audio evidence automatically under an ambitious proposal to increase accountability and improve workflows.
NSW Police on Thursday began looking for a technology platform to allow current and future equipment and devices used in the line of duty to be “connected and fully integrated” where possible.
The connected officer initiative was first proposed last year to increase the use of body-worn video (BWV) cameras, and therefore the capture of audio and video footage, to ehance officer accountability.
Police Commissioner Mick Fuller at the time said there was now an “assumption” that the cameras could talk to both firearms and tasers, so that when officers draw either “not only does [an officer’s BWV camera] turn on but everyone’s turns on within 100 metres”.
The force began deploying Fujitsu/M-View BWV four years ago to improve evidence gathering and to encourage good behaviour from officers. As at last July, there were 5217 cameras – or approximately one for every three of the 17,000 sworn police officers across the state.
But the cameras currently rely on officers manually starting the recordings during interactions with the public, though they do provide at least a 30-second back capture of vision prior to the record button being pushed.
This creates problems when officers are in an emergency or critical situation, as there “may be no time or opportunity” to initiate a recording, which the force hopes to solve with “connected officer device integration solutions”.
The expression of interest will be used to acquire a technology platform capable of connecting an officer’s Taser and Glock sidearm to their body worn camera, so that when either is removed from a holster the cameras automatically start recording.
NSW Police notes that while tasers currently have an onboard camera that automatically activates when drawn, future models from its vendor won’t, meaning it will be forced to rely on BWV devices to capture evidence.
The platform will also integrate with an officer’s Samsung MobiPol mobile device to send data that the other connected devices have created, as well as receive alerts and other information such as biometric data about a person of interest from central command.
“In the course of responding to an incident, the officer draws his/her CEW [taser] or sidearm,” NSW Police said in tender documents.
“This action should trigger the BWV camera, which starts recording the incident, noting the camera current has a non-audio pre-record feature.
“This also should trigger other alerts (e.g. alert back to base, or to other configurable persons/systems.”
NSW Police also envisages that police vehicles will become “mobile data hubs” for the audio and video data captured on officer’s devices when within connectivity range, and will enable “interchange of information back to police headquarters”.
“This requirement seeks to enable features such as camera video and audio streaming to a vehicle in-car infotainment screen and back to base alerts in instances of drawing a weapon,” it said.
NSW Police said it is after an ‘outcomes based’ solution that from a provider or consortium of providers that could be demonstrated and trialled.
This could be a “short-term solution for integrating the existing devices currently in use, as well as developing a longer-term roadmap that covers the enhanced connectivity and interoperability of all aspects of policing as part of the connected officer initiative”.
The chosen solution is not expected to be able to integrate with NSW Police’s other corporate systems and networks.
The government has not yet provided any funding for the “purchase of any software or services in relation to device integration or connectivity” under the initiative.
“The information sought via this EOI will be used to inform the technical solution and roadmap going forward and to help develop a Business Case to finalise funding proposals,” the force said.
NSW Police expects the first round of submission to be evaluated by July, with a request for proposal process or direct negotiation to follow, depending on the outcome of the funding request.