Panasonic Computer Solutions Company has announced the launch of the Toughbook Arbitrator 360° in-car digital video system, which can support up to six cameras in one law enforcement vehicle for comprehensive evidence capture.
Incorporating feedback from law enforcement agencies, the Arbitrator 360° enables a 360-degree view surrounding the entire vehicle. Its user interface can simultaneously display and record as many as five camera feeds, so patrol officers can effortlessly monitor their entire surroundings from the driver's seat.
Live video streaming capabilities are built in to the Arbitrator 360° as an additional safety feature. Police dispatchers can now monitor what's happening in each patrol car from headquarters. If an officer is in trouble, such as an altercation during a traffic stop, the dispatcher can remotely zoom the camera for a better picture, or change the frames-per-second bit rate for more details.
One upgrade from the previous Arbitrator version is the proprietary supporting software that will be maintained exclusively by Panasonic.
The software is backward-compatible with older hardware. Also, the system can update vehicle settings, vehicle software, and client software from the administrator console. The system can manage a variety of digital evidence and deliver a secure and auditable data source. Every image and video file is retrievable through a simple case number search.
The process of recording, transferring, and storing video evidence is automated. As with consumer-facing digital video recorders (DVR) used for television, the Arbitrator 360° video evidence is constantly being cached to provide a "pre record" feature. Once the record button is pressed, either manually or through a designated trigger, the 90 seconds of video preceding it are automatically included. Agencies can activate up to 16 triggers to start the recording, such as when the speedometer hits a certain speed, the sirens turn on, car doors open, or impact is detected.
For officers who want both audio and video evidence captured while they're out of the vehicle, a digital wireless, on-body microphone is included. It features a line-of-sight range of up to 1,000 feet. Buttons on the device can trigger the in-car camera to start recording, or mute the audio.
"The Arbitrator 360° provides police departments with the most all-encompassing and effective tool for gathering evidence, while also protecting officers and keeping their focus on police work," said Greg Peratt, Panasonic's director of digital video products. "The system is fully customizable to each individual agency's needs, and offers dependable protection of video evidence from cuffs to court."
The Arbitrator 360° uses Panasonic solid-state high-capacity SD memory cards (SDHC) for highly reliable, long-term video storage. With four SDHC slots and up to 32GB of memory on each card, the Arbitrator 360° has four times more storage capacity than the previous version. The camera uses H.264 standard video compression, which allows recording of higher-quality images on about half the storage space of MPEG-2.
The media files stored on Panasonic memory cards are proprietary and secure, so evidence can't be changed or distributed without proper permissions. Videos can be transferred directly from patrol cars to police station servers, using wireless Internet hotspots.
Once video is saved on the server, it becomes searchable by categories such as incident, car number, officer name, or time of day, with permissions settings and an access record to protect the chain of evidence. Because events captured on the Arbitrator 360° have varying levels of importance, agencies are also able to easily categorize videos by type of incident, and apply different standards to how long each is stored. For example, all hit-and-runs can be automatically stored for two years while speeding infractions are kept for six months, accommodating each agency's retention policies and statute of limitations.
"The Toughbook Arbitrator 360° has given us a true end-to-end solution for not just recording video, but storing, organizing, and accessing video, as well," said Sgt. Todd Beam of the Lincoln (Neb.) Police Department. "In addition, we quickly realized the benefits of deploying multiple in-car cameras by disproving an internal affairs complaint using evidence captured on a rear-facing camera. From our perspective, a room full of DVDs is no better than a room full of VHS tapes, so the ability to manage and transfer all video evidence digitally is a huge bonus. Our patrol officers found the Arbitrator 360° software interface very easy to use, and were up and running with very minimal training. We value the long-term presence and stability Panasonic has demonstrated in public safety."
The Arbitrator 360° is now available through authorized Panasonic Mobile Video resellers and carries an estimated retail price of $4,650.