Police car cameras can do more than just record video

A few decades ago, when video cameras resembled cannons based on their shape and size, few people could imagine that high-quality video recording devices would one day be commonly used in cars as parking assistants or evidence recorders& in the event of accidents.

However, in recent years, cameras have become popular not only with ordinary drivers. Video recordings also help to increase the transparency of police work, investigate incidents detected during police checks or other interventions, document traffic offenses, and assist in police training.

Limits of video

One of the reasons why the idea of installing cameras in police vehicles is so appealing is because most single-purpose video recording systems are relatively quick and easy to install in vehicles. It is a simple product consisting of a camera, control panel, and a video recording storage. As such, it does not require any integration with the vehicle or other systems.

However, due to their simple architecture, possible uses for such camera systems are limited. Most of them allow the recording to only be played back on the display inside the vehicle or downloaded to an external device for further examination or archiving, with no possibility for a more sophisticated reverse lookup.

Of course, for some police units this limited functionality may be all they need right now. However, camera systems and other technologies specifically designed for rescue services presently offer much greater potential.

Cameras for smart cars

More sophisticated solutions, even in their basic versions, are fitted with multiple cameras that not only increase the viewing angle for the recording of events around the motorized patrol, but can also recognize the license plates of passing cars and check them against databases in real time.

The video in such equipped police vehicles may include, for example, information about the bluelights and siren activation, the time and location of a license plate recognition, speeding (if the patrol is equipped with a radar) and various manually entered notes or tags for easier follow-up video recording sorting or searching. Thus, the video recording often becomes a useful source of information when collecting evidence. Being connected with the control centre, advanced solutions also allow the operator to see the exact location of the patrol and view the image from the camera in real time.

What is important is that in such equipped vehicles a sophisticated camera system is an essential, but not the only, technology that brings more to police work. Smart police cars also include a system for patrol-to-patrol and patrol-to-control centre messaging, as well as centrally managed database of various tips on working practices, or interpretation of laws allowing police officers to browse necessary information while in the field.

Another convenient feature that makes police work easier is automated reporting, because at the there is always a record of where each unit went and when, where and how many people and vehicles they checked during duty. The benefit of that is reduced paperwork and also potential criminal investigations at a later date.

Looking to the future

Given the availability of the technology and the digitalisation of everything around us, cameras should be an essential, but by no means the only part, of a technology solution for modern police vehicles.

Another reason why it is worth  considering the enhanced functionality provided by intelligent police vehicle technologies, as opposed to a single-purpose camera system, is that  simple cameras are difficult if not impossible to extend with new functionality later on.