Secure Crime Scene Data and Image Management for the Digital Age
Digital photography has rapidly become the new standard for law enforcement and criminal justice agencies worldwide. It cuts costs and eliminates the need to have to manage an unmanageable CD/DVD storage issue. No longer will images sit on an unsecure server that everyone has access to. With the advent of digital imaging, every agency must decide how its crime scene photos are going to be stored, organized, and kept secure. Agencies have learned that there significant limitations and risks to an unmanaged approach. Backups are challenging and chain of custody is nearly impossible with CD, DVD, or Simple Drive Space solutions. Digital CrimeScene allows you to easily record, accurately document, and efficiently manage all information about a crime scene with digital security.
Some of the most common concerns when dealing with crime scene data are that the data is kept secure from any unauthorized viewing and that the data can be authenticated for court purposes. With Digital CrimeScene, all photos are placed into a secure SQL database and protected with hash checking technology. The original image serves as an "Electronic Negative" and cannot be altered, preventing court room challenges towards image authenticity. If enhancements, such as brightening a dark image, need to be made, then they are made to a copy of the image. The system provides user, case, and image level security. Secure digital asset storage of forensic data, images, photos, reports, documents, drawings, and narratives for every case is provided in Digital CrimeScene.
However, even the greatest security and data integrity will not help an agency if the data is too difficult to find and organize. Digital CrimeScene offers some of the fastest image retrieval and display available. Every data field within the system is searchable so users can find exactly what they are looking for. Our system uses standard Microsoft technology and SQL database which allows for easy sharing, data backup, secure data access, and disaster recovery.
Enhanced Case Management
Digital CrimeScene has expanded the abilities of a traditional crime scene records management system by allowing users to add more information to a case than merely the images themselves. Narratives and journal entries can be added to each level of a case to record important information. Additional media and data files such as sound clips, videos, and documents can be securely stored with the case as well. Users can search by any of the fields that are available in the system to make record retrieval easy. Record data is organized into Cases, Calls, and Image Categories.
Cases: Data and images in the system are stored in individual cases. The Case ID Number, Description, Case Type, Case Status, and any narratives or journals about the case are stored at the case level. Case types, such as “burglary” or “homicide” can be easily setup by administrators into a preset list that users can select from. Not only does this save time when creating a case, but it causes all case types to be standard in their format which makes searching and retrieving cases easier. Administrators can also create security access rights based on case type, ensuring that only those that need access to the case are able to view it. The security can also be applied to individual images, which may be especially important for high profile cases.
Calls: Calls are logical groupings of the images and information within the case. A call can be used to organize images based on several factors such as the place or time the images were taken, the camera that the images were taken on, or the technician who took the images. Each case can have as many calls as necessary.
Image Categories: Every image added to Digital CrimeScene can be tagged with multiple image categories describing what the image pertains to. As with case types, image categories can be created by administrators in preset selection lists for the user to choose from. Administrators can also block users from seeing images tagged with certain categories.
Images from one or multiple records can be added to image groups for easy viewing. Users can search for images by searching any available record fields. All images matching the search criteria will be displayed and can be added to an image group in the order is desired. Image groups can be saved, displayed, exported to HTML, and printed to aid in further investigation or to use at trial presentations.
By using image groups, users can view images from multiple cases at the same time. The Image Comparison tool will allow the user to view two images side-by-side, make edits to the images for easier viewing or to clarify certain details of the images. Users can overlay two images to view the distinct differences between the images. When needed, images can also be calibrated with measurements of distance.
DataWorks Plus understands the legal importance of positive in-court validations for every image used in a case. Digital CrimeScene will track every alteration made to an image and will never allow original images to be altered. EXIF data is stored in the database with each image so the user can see the time when the image was captured, the type of camera the image was taken on, and even the camera settings at the time of capture. Images that have been altered are clearly distinguished from their originals with a red border. Images can be enhanced using Digital CrimeScene’s internal image editor or even Adobe Photoshop. Users can export files into Adobe Photoshop, perform any type of enhancement needed, and then re-import the newly enhanced image directly to the case record all within the same Digital CrimeScene session. A journal entry containing all actions performed in Adobe Photoshop will automatically be generated and saved with the image.
Digital CrimeScene allows for any file type to be attached to a case. Administrators will be able to see which user uploaded the file, and every file that is stored on the system can have description given to it by the uploader so other users can easily identify it. Some of the most commonly used file types include PowerPoint presentations, Word documents, videos (i.e. MPEG, AVI), audio files, 3-D crime scenes, access databases, electronic sketches, and text files.
Web Enabled Data Sharing
Manually printing images or burning images to CDs everytime case work needs to be viewed by another individual is very time consuming, costly, and involves a large amount of clerical work. With these issues in mind, DataWorks Plus developed the CrimeWorks web application as an extension of the Digital CrimeScene system. CrimeWorks is a web-based application in which users can access many of Digital CrimeScene’s functions on any computer throughout your agency’s network without installing additional software. CrimeWorks can operate via Intranet, VPN, LAN, WAN, or Internet connectivity. CrimeWorks allows the system to be used when an agency is spread across multiple buildings or when sharing information and images with District Attorneys. Administrators have full control over who has security access rights with CrimeWorks at the case, call, and image levels.
Every agency is different and comes with its own set of needs, wants, budget constraints, and capabilities. Perhaps the most valuable aspect of DataWorks Plus’ systems is that several of the system’s features can be customized for your agency. Custom fields allow all necessary information for cases, calls, and images to be recorded and custom security ensures that all data is properly managed. When an agency obtains Digital CrimeScene, it is not merely obtaining a piece of software that the agency must adapt to, but rather a dynamic set of software tools that adapts to the agency.
DataWorks Plus is an experienced systems integrator. Digital CrimeScene is a turnkey solution, which means that everything necessary to begin production is included within the system. However, our Digital CrimeScene solution can also be interfaced with your agency’s existing Record Management Systems to eliminate redundancy and protect your investments. In our commitment to total customer satisfaction we will work with your agency to integrate existing equipment or software systems into the Digital CrimeScene solution if necessary.
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