Utility Associates Inc., today announced it has unveiled a state-of-the-art software that will blur-out faces and personally identifiable markings such as body tattoos to protect the privacy and identity of victims, innocent bystanders, minors and, undercover police officers in police in-car and body-worn video. The company says its Smart Redaction software will save millions of dollars in manual video redaction labor costs and further ensure police protection, accountability, and transparency.
“We are dedicated to keeping first responders connected and in control during encounters and dangerous situations. At the same time, Smart Redaction allows police departments to respond to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for body-worn video on a timely basis, without the cost of a large staff to manually redact video,” said Robert McKeeman, CEO of Utility.
Utility says Smart Redaction enables 21st century police accountability and transparency by removing cost as a barrier to releasing body-worn video on a timely basis. As police departments equip all officers with body-worn video cameras to record exchanges with the public, there will naturally be a big increase in FOIA requests for those body-worn video recordings.
“Police departments need to respond to FOIA requests on a timely basis to maintain public confidence in police accountability and transparency, but citizen privacy rights also need to be protected”, said Chris Lindenau, Utility's vice president of business development. “Currently, manual video redaction can take five to 10 hours of effort to redact one hour of video. Thirty frames per second x 60 seconds per minute x 60 minutes in an hour totals 108,000 video frames in a one-hour video. That is a lot of video frames to redact manually. Police departments are at risk of getting overwhelmed by FOIA requests, and damaging the public’s confidence in police accountability and transparency if it takes a long time to respond to FOIA requests. Refusing to release body-worn video because of manual video redaction costs runs counter to 21st Century policing accountability and transparency principles. Smart Redaction is the answer.”
“Until now police departments have been in a tough spot between accountability, transparency, and cost,” stated Utility CEO McKeeman. “However, Smart Redaction resolves this dilemma. police departments can now reliably and quickly redact body-worn video at low cost to respond to a rapidly rising tide of body-worn video FOIA requests. The Public will have confidence their police department is accountable and transparent in citizen interactions when body-worn video FOIA requests are fulfilled on a timely basis.”
The Smart Redaction software as a service can automatically identify and redact all faces and body parts in a video. Alternatively, a video administrator can select one or more objects in a video to redact. Smart Redaction then redacts the selected object or objects as they move around in the video. A third alternative is to select one or more objects to not redact, and then Smart Redaction redacts all faces and body parts in the video except the objects selected to remain clear. Audio can also be selectively redacted during a specific timeframe in the video to help protect victims, minors and/or bystanders.
Smart Redaction does the redaction work on a copy of the original video. The video administrator gets a notification when the redacted video is completed and ready to distribute. A video administrator can launch any number of video redaction jobs in parallel. The original video is retained and is never modified, so the legal evidence chain of custody is protected. A police department can quickly redact video and audio at low cost to protect public confidence.
An example of how Smart Redaction™ works can be seen on the SmartRedaction.com website.
Public policy around releasing body-worn video should not be based upon a false assumption that video can only be redacted manually at high cost and with a long production lead-time,” said McKeeman. “We have developed a fast and cost-effective solution to meet the rapidly growing need to redact police body-worn video.”
Smart Redaction’s is integrated into Utility’s AVaiLWeb video management software as a service. There is no additional cost to subscribers using the Utility Evidence Ecosystem cloud product suite for in-car video and Generation 2 BodyWorn police cameras.