Sharing information in the cloud leads to more collaboration and better results.

Sharing information in the cloud leads to more collaboration and better results. Image source: Flickr user George Thomas.

It all sounded nebulous at the beginning. Most of us were suspicious about “the cloud” because we were worried our data would end up floating off to some remote land. We may have started using Google Drive, Dropbox, or other applications without realizing how this technology would improve collaboration for so many people.

Law enforcement is sometimes slow to accept new technologies. Back in the late 1990’s, for example, law enforcement and the courts weren’t sure how to validate digital image evidence. That challenge has since been overcome and digital images are now often important sources of evidence. Agencies need to look to the future and keep up with the latest technology—including cloud-based systems. Moving all your information to the cloud allows you to be more flexible and to access information in real time from anywhere in the world. During a crucial investigation, this means you can work from your police vehicle or your office, and you can download or upload information such as images, video, audio, or documents quickly and safely—a perfect pairing with innovative technologies such as CVSA truth verification.

Moving to the Cloud

The move to the paperless world of the cloud caused people in all sectors to worry about how confidential information would be protected, but it’s actually safer to have your data in cloud storage. Paper files are subject to damage from natural disasters or they can be stolen. Keeping your data in off-site servers where it is continually backed up keeps it more secure. As long as staff is educated about password protection and best practice protocols—such as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)—are implemented, that critical police data is protected by encryption, firewalls, and anti-virus and malware software.

According to an International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) survey, as of mid-2016, only 16 percent of law enforcement agencies were using the cloud, but 38 percent were considering moving to cloud-based solutions or had plans to implement this technology. Using on-site servers is risky because damage could occur or your system could go down, so most of the police data and case management systems available today offer cloud deployment.

Police agencies who are turning to cloud-computing to manage their data discover it is the best solution for everything from record storage to collaborative tools to accessing databases. COPLINK is one such cloud-based system that allows the sharing of information between police agencies. An officer can search a license plate in another state, or video captured on an officer’s bodycam can be shared and analyzed. Any type of data—text, audio, or video—can be made available to colleagues across the country. And this whole process can be done safely and without compromise—even over iPhone or Android.

This digital sharing not only provides greater collaboration, but it is cost effective. It’s difficult to quantify savings, as all departments have different needs, but by moving to the cloud, you save money on infrastructures such as servers and software, there is no need for a large IT staff, and there is more scalability and less maintenance. The cloud also allows you to take advantage of resources across multi-functional teams and departments or access resources from larger agencies with bigger budgets.

Working with CVSA

Like all technological advancements, the Computer Voice Stress Analyzer (CVSA®) also faced the challenge of not being accepted at first. While some law enforcement agencies have stayed with the familiarity of the polygraph, over 2,000 police departments learned about the benefits of this computerized truth verification system, sent their members for training, and have been successfully using CVSA to detect deception during interviews with suspects, witnesses, and victims.

Unlike the polygraph, the CVSA can analyze recorded or archival cold case recordings because it measures signs of stress in the human voice—whether the interview subject is live, recorded, or even long dead.  Now, as more police agencies take their data to cloud-based systems, a police officer in Minnesota can share his recording with a CVSA Analyst in Florida for analysis. Those recordings and the resultant charts can be stored in the cloud and accessed by those with permission.

Sharing Information

Veteran officers all remember cases where individuals managed to avoid detection or arrest because of information that wasn’t properly shared. One of the most famous examples comes from our Canadian brothers and sisters in blue. When a composite photograph of the “Scarborough Rapist” in Toronto was published in the paper in 1990, a bank teller informed police that this man, Paul Bernardo, was her customer. The report wasn’t passed on to the right police agencies, and Bernardo and his wife went on to rape, torture, and murder two teenage girls.

An investigation review by Justice Archie Campbell outlined one of the failures in the case as a “lack of common computerized case management computer software to ensure that separate investigations into the same suspect can share information effectively.” The Justice recommended a computerized case management system, which has been in effect in Ontario since 2002.

Across North America, police agencies realized the value of computerized case management systems. Using the cloud to share the assets of technology such as the CVSA ensures more efficient and proactive policing methods are followed. It was The National Institute of Justice that funded COPLINK to improve sharing of information and database integration so that every police department in the country has access to the same resources and can stay up-to-date with new technologies.

Real-time data sharing allows smaller police agencies to utilize many of the resources of larger departments without investing in a lot of equipment or more staff.  And for law enforcement agencies of all sizes, streamlining department resources and sharing information could save lives. If utilizing the cloud to analyze a recording through CVSA prevents even one criminal from getting away, your investment has paid off.

Please reach out to us at NITV Federal Services to learn more about our CVSA systems and training programs.