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The bigger picture: open-platform body worn cameras stream into new sectors

8 minutes read
Body worn cameras in different use cases.

When Axis launched its first body worn camera system in 2020, unsurprisingly the first sectors to adopt the new solution were law enforcement and private security. Being based on an open architecture, the Axis body worn camera system was designed from the outset to be the world’s most flexible. With further enhancements and additions since launch, such as the option to activate live streaming when extra eyes are required on a situation, the potential use cases for body worn cameras have increased significantly. Sectors which may not have previously considered body worn cameras as a viable solution, from retail to healthcare, are now starting to take advantage of the multiple benefits they bring in personal safety, operational efficiency, and liability protection.

Open architecture and complete flexibility

The philosophy of openness sits at the heart of Axis as an organization, and its body worn camera system is another example of this. From the AXIS W101 to more discreet wearable sensors – the AXIS TW1201 mini cube and the AXIS TW1200 mini bullet – Axis has designed its cameras to be the most flexible option on the market. While flexibility through hardware is one thing, it is the flexibility that the system’s open architecture brings which has opened up new opportunities.

Fredrik Johansson, Global Product Manager at Axis Communications, explains: “The Axis body worn camera system has been designed with an open architecture for seamless integration with existing software. Axis body worn cameras can be used with any existing Video Management System (VMS) or Evidence Management System (EMS) - on-premise or in the cloud - allowing for integration with other video surveillance data. Not only does this make it cost-effective to add body worn cameras to an existing surveillance solution, it gives customers ownership over the VMS they choose to use.”

We’re seeing customers in new sectors trial body worn cameras with a small number of staff in specific scenarios

It is this ability to add body worn cameras to an existing surveillance solution using the existing VMS - in the exact same way that any other new camera would be added - that has opened up opportunities in sectors beyond law enforcement and private security. Such a low barrier to entry means that businesses can add significant value without being obliged to make major investments or overhaul their entire surveillance infrastructure.

Johansson continues: “We’re seeing customers in new sectors trial body worn cameras with a small number of staff in specific scenarios. For instance, supermarkets have been using body worn cameras to ensure that spillage clean-ups are taking place as efficiently and effectively as they should be, and healthcare organizations are using body worn cameras for ambulance drivers and paramedics.”

Scalability to suit each organization’s needs – today and tomorrow

The solution’s architecture also allows for almost unlimited scalability. Following proofs of concept and small-scale deployments, it is not unusual for customers to quickly move to large-scale roll-outs across their organization.

In sectors from retail to healthcare to transportation to energy and utilities, security staff have been provided with body worn cameras. Many are now considering the benefits of rolling this technology out to staff on the shop floor, clinical staff, drivers and ticket inspectors or workers checking equipment – aiding training, improving processes, and gathering footage to aid with investigations into any customer complaints or insurance claims.

Intuitive to use

Ease of use is essential. Staff in retail, healthcare or transportation may not yet be accustomed to body worn solutions, so the operation of Axis body worn cameras has been designed to be as easy as possible.

Fredrik Johansson continues: “Using the Axis body worn camera is as simple as lifting the camera out of its docking station and clicking record to get started, and then turning it off and putting it back once finished. Camera wearers cannot access or share the material and don’t need to worry about offloading the footage – it’s all handled automatically. As a result, no lengthy training sessions are required, and organizations can set up and start reaping the benefits of these systems quickly.”

This ease of use extends to more recent updates. For instance, with just one click, users can activate their body worn camera to stream video content directly to an operator in real-time. If a situation is developing quickly and they feel they need additional support, this option gives them access to help from an operator in one swift move. Importantly, they will also receive confirmation when the operator has eyes on the scene, giving them confidence that they are no longer dealing with the situation alone.

Built-in body worn camera integrity: tamper-proof processes and footage

Given the nature of many of the use cases where body worn cameras may be used – particularly in recording customer interactions and ensuring adherence to health and safety and other relevant procedures – the footage can be a vital part of any subsequent investigations. Footage must be verifiable as authentic in order to be admissible in any legal proceedings and insurance claims, or in resolving customer complaints against staff.

As with all its video surveillance solutions, Axis has ensured the highest level of security possible to ensure that not a single frame can be tampered with and minimize the risk of cyber disruptions. Specific aspects of the solution include:

  • Encryption: All data is encrypted both at rest and in transfer using AES256 and TLS. In addition, video data can be fully end-to-end encrypted with specific integrations. In fact, any live streamed body worn camera footage is automatically encrypted end-to-end so that only the operator can watch it – whether in real-time or via playback, as it is automatically stored for 24 hours.
  • Full automation: The process of transferring the video material from the camera and onto a server is fully automated, which means no human interaction is needed and – importantly –  sno video section can be removed from the footage during the process.
  • Limited access rights: To maintain the integrity of all recorded footage, our body worn camera systems are set up so the camera wearer cannot access or share footage. The only exception is the possibility for the wearer to activate live streaming when they need an operator to view the scenario that is unfolding in real-time, but encryption ensures that no one else can access it. All data is moved automatically and only accessible by the individual granted authority to view the data.
  • Secure data offloading: Moreover, all cameras are registered to one ‘home’ system, which is the only system they can transfer their material to.
  • No single point of failure: These systems have built in redundancy to avoid the vulnerability that comes with a single point of failure: if a system with multiple controllers finds that one goes down, the system will still work, and cameras will still be able to offload data despite the increased load.

Together, this means that organizations without prior experience of body worn cameras can feel confident in the integrity of the system and rest assured that footage cannot be compromised.

A quality promise – put to the test

In addition to openness, another aspect of all Axis solutions is quality, whether related to hardware, software, or usability.

Given the potential conditions to which these cameras will be exposed – from being worn outdoors in bad weather to being dropped by users to constant movement – Axis puts new cameras to the test in the lab and in the real world, imitating the most severe conditions to ensure their robustness and uninterrupted functionality.

Weatherproofing, button durability, chemical resistance and many other factors and conditions are all tested to ensure they can withstand use, no matter the specific use case or segment. This quality assurance means these cameras can be used everywhere, from the retail shop floor to below ground in a mine as part of critical infrastructure. And testing goes beyond the camera itself, with mounts and harnesses tested to provide the best mix of strength and comfort.

This thorough testing is one of the reasons Axis is confident in giving its body worn cameras a three-year warranty, an above average length of time in comparison to other solutions.

The growth of body worn cameras across all sectors

If any organization sees the benefit in video surveillance more broadly, it’s likely that there will also be a compelling use case for body worn cameras. The majority of individuals that interact with the general public as part of their job role could benefit from these systems, given the inherent link with deterring unwanted behavior. Beyond safety, the new use cases that body worn cameras can support – from improved customer service to enhanced training to operational efficiency – bring multiple advantages for organizations in every sector.

The open platform philosophy of all Axis solutions makes body worn cameras a seamless addition to any existing surveillance solution, and therefore an optimal choice for any organizations keen to explore the potential of wearable cameras for their staff.

Many new sectors are starting to explore the significant benefits which they can achieve with body worn cameras, testing the robust, scalable, secure Axis solution which integrates easily into their existing VMS.

Axis continues to build further integrations, applications and features into its body worn camera solution, which will only increase their relevance to more sectors and use cases.

Isn’t it time you took a closer look at body worn cameras?
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