In-car video is one of the most mature markets in contemporary law enforcement with numerous established companies all struggling for their piece of the pie. So it's not every day that a new player enters this arena. But that's exactly what Newton, Ala.-based AngelTrax expects to do some time around the end of March with its VizuCop 360 system.
To be fair, AngelTrax is not new to the in-vehicle video market. Since 1999, the company has built a reputation for making rugged and reliable video products for use in school buses, mass transit vehicles, and locomotives. And for the last three-and-a-half years, it has been developing the VizuCop 360 system for law enforcement.
AngelTrax President Richie Howard says agencies aware of the company's school bus products have been asking for a law enforcement product. "Some of our dealers would actually, on request from the customers, install some of our bus equipment in the vehicles of law enforcement agencies in remote areas," he says. "Those users really like the reliability of our product."
Howard says producing a product for the law enforcement market was not as simple as rebranding AngelTrax's existing systems. "It's taken us several years to develop the
VizuCop 360 because the product is really a lot different in many respects," he explains.
School bus, mass transit, and locomotive video systems record event data and so do law enforcement video systems. But they don't do it in the same way or for the same purpose.
Non-law enforcement video systems are always on. Law enforcement systems record events once they are triggered by certain actions of the officer, such as turning on the lights and siren, or of the vehicle, such as a collision, and use a 30-second or 60-second buffer to capture what happened before the trigger was activated. (VizuCop 360 offers two minutes of pre-event video and five minutes of post-event video.) In addition, law enforcement video is evidence and the chain of custody for that evidence must be preserved. "The archiving is very different for law enforcement," Howard says.
One of the key features of the VizuCop 360 is a tool that makes archiving easier on the front end of the system. Howard says VizuCop 360 has a Tagging Pad that allows the officer to mark the recording as a felony, misdemeanor, traffic accident, etc.
Another key feature of the VizuCop 360 is its dual-lens, front-firing camera. "In most systems, the officer is required to hit a button to zoom in on a license tag," Howard says. "We eliminated that with a simultaneous wide-angle view and zoom view. You get the wide angle on channel one and the close-up on channel two."
The VizuCop 360 offers up to eight channels of video and eight channels of audio. Features include: 900-line analog-to-digital resolution, 5-inch rearview mirror monitor, Wifi download, streaming video, DVR health monitoring software called MOTOTrax, and evidence management software called MOTOLinks.
Howard says one of the strongest selling points of the new VizuCop 360 is its Virtual Synchronized Mapping (VSM) feature, which encodes the address of the incident and a map showing the location into each video. "We showed VSM to a department in northern Alabama four years ago, and they wanted to know when it was coming out. We've had it in the school bus market for some time, so we knew it would be a hit with law enforcement."
But the patented VSM and dual-lens camera features are not the primary aspect of VizuCop that Howard believes will make the system a fixture in America's patrol cars. He has this message for future law enforcement customers. "Our system is highly reliable," he says. "We are going to make sure that you get your video because we know how important that is for you."