Stun gun firm Taser is getting into the cloud storage game—and the move isn't as farfetched as it sounds.
Taser, which markets and sells a variety of technology for law enforcement, launched their new service last month. Evidence.com External Sharing is a cloud service designed specifically for law enforcement to share digital copies of evidence with lawyers and judges—and to create an extensive audit trail in the process to track who views what.
Although the Evidence.com service isn't the only cloud storage service to meet mandated privacy requirements for law enforcement and the legal system, it's one of a handful with marketing staff directly targeting cops.
Evidence's system is designed for law enforcement to securely share and transfer video footage without using flesh-and-blood couriers to deliver DVDs or video tapes. Jason Droege, Evidence's president, told Co.Labs that there are “security, auditability, and workflow-specific needs” for law enforcement and justice system-oriented IT products. Files are uploaded onto secure servers and police can generate URLs to view videos or hear audio that can be sent to lawyers, judges, or the media once they have established accounts with the service; each view and attempted file opening creates an audit trail which can later be used in court.
Creating an audit trail and protecting file security is a big deal for law enforcement IT teams, and one that has hampered them from adopting robust solutions like Dropbox for business: Unauthorized access to cloud files is a serious liability and ethical concern for law enforcement, who have concerns many other enterprise customers do not.
Droege added in a conversation that many law enforcement agencies “currently handle video evidence with DVDs and CD-Roms. They download data onto CD and DVDs, put it in a folder, hand it to a courier, it goes to the district attorney, who then may make another copy, and give it to the defense attorney. We feel discs arent as secure as Evidence.com, which gives more of an audit trail.”
Taser launched Evidence in 2009 as a separate division directly aimed at law enforcement IT needs; Evidence in turn acquired popular photo-sharing service Familiar in late 2013—and reportedly outbid Twitter for the acquisition.
Familiar was shut down shortly after the Taser purchase; the startup's core technology, which lets users share photos or videos with a restricted list of email addresses, who then see the images instantly show up in digital photo frames or screensavers, strongly resembles Evidence's External Sharing feature.
Although Evidence did not give numbers on how many law enforcement agencies are using their cloud service, which soft-launched in Q4 2013 and officially launched in February, the police department of Newport News, Virginia has gone on record as a client. The cloud service is part of Evidence's larger portfolio of police tech products which also includes wearable cameras and a series of mobile apps for cops to use in the field.
[Image: Flickr user Christopher Smythers]