Bodycams: a tool to support the modernization objectives of public administration

By Ramón Montañez, Director of International Strategy, Emerging Markets, Motorola Solutions

The perception of the population in relation to safety is as important for a city as safety itself, because besides impacting governance, it affects the attractiveness for investment and, consequently, its economic development.

In a large part of Latin America, the perception is still negative, that is, people feel unsafe in their cities. And the point is that this trend is not expected (in the short and medium term) to be reversed. This was indicated by the Law and Order Report conducted by the Gallup Institute, which shows that less than half of the Latin American population (49% of those surveyed) feels safe, while the global average is 71%.

In this sense, it is necessary to strengthen the sense of security in the population. One of the ways to do this is to use technology in favor of public safety. Currently, the range of solutions to improve security includes intelligent video surveillance cameras, drones, sensor lighting, access controls, metal detection systems, and much more.

The body camera or bodycam is an example of a tool that contributes to greater transparency in security. It promotes the capture and recording of incidents, which besides representing valuable information to increase situational awareness, is neutral evidence of incidents, and is increasingly being considered as evidential material in the judicial system. That’s why more than 60 percent of citizens say they feel a greater sense of security in society when using advanced video technologies, according to the “Consensus for Change” study by Goldsmiths, a London university. The study surveyed 12,000 people in 10 countries (Australia, Germany, Italy, Malaysia, the Nordic countries, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan, the UK, and the US), as well as 50 public safety organizations and businesses.

The bodycams – which can be worn on the uniforms of public safety, emergency, and metropolitan officers such as police, traffic officials, and firefighters – facilitate real-time documentation of events before, during, and after an incident, acting as another “pair of eyes” that monitor, record, and store the event, documenting whether the law was obeyed. Thanks to this, they serve as evidence in any legal proceedings. The greater transparency in the actions of the agents positively impacts the population’s sense of trust. In this way, the information can be shared with the Command and Control Centers and used in decision making, providing greater awareness for the police or public authority to make decisions quickly, efficiently and accurately.

The information collected by the cameras cannot be manipulated, edited, or shared on external devices. This is to increase the protection of the records. Material can be replayed as many times as necessary to review critical evidence and perform post-incident analysis, saving valuable information and discarding irrelevant information.

Globally, the use of bodycams for public safety purposes is already a strong trend. The security of MetroRio in Brazil is an example of the use of this technology in order to protect the security agents and the population, demonstrating full transparency of actions to the citizens. Data on the use of bodycams in countries like France, Italy, the UK or the USA reveal a decrease in the use of police force and in the complaints filed by citizens. In the city of Ravenna, since 2020, the use of these devices by municipal police has reduced situations of violence against authority by 50%. In London, in 2018, complaints against the police decreased by 20%. In Birmingham, USA, where the police have been using bodycams since 2015, incidents of use of force have decreased by 34% and citizen complaints by 71%.

With these numbers we can say that bodycams already mean an evolution of society and its security forces, promoting increased respect and trust between public safety agents and communities. Therefore, they can be considered an important tool to support the modernization objectives of public administration.

*** Translated by the DEFCONPress team ***

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