A Survey on Video Evidence: The Highlights from the Amped User Days 2021

In April 2021, we had our second Amped User Days, an event reserved for our users which put together 298 people from 34 different countries.

While we are in constant communication with our users, we wanted to get a bird’s eye view of the industry and behaviors with video evidence so we took the opportunity to ask them to contribute to our study by replying to a few questions.

I thought some of the highlights from the survey were quite interesting, so I’ll go over them in this post.

Read on to see some of our questions and replies from our users.

How many cases do you work on per week?

We saw a large variability here; a person worked on 1 case per week on average and another one on 40; the average was around 7-8 cases per week. Of course, a single case can involve multiple files, and the amount of work is highly variable, but having a ballpark number is always good.

What are the main issues in your job?

I was a bit surprised here. While the low image quality is a big issue and one of the main reasons we created Amped FIVE, I expected proprietary video files to be an even more significant problem, given that most of the files are in proprietary formats. Then I realized we didn’t ask “how often do you have to deal with this and this”, we asked whether it’s an issue. Since the Amped Conversion Engine included in our products seamlessly converts lots of proprietary video files, the problem has been solved to an extent. At the same time, with very low-quality files often there’s nothing to do if there’s no data. So, this still hurts more.

Legal and courtroom-related issues seem less important than other factors, but maybe this is changing, at least in some countries, after major trials like the Rittenhouse one in the US.

What are the main sources of image and video evidence?

No surprise here that video surveillance is first, but I didn’t expect dashcam/in-car videos to be (slightly) more popular than evidence from social media and body-worn.

How successful is forensic image and video enhancement?

In short, in about half of the cases, our users can benefit from the enhancement.

When there is no success, in about 20% of the overall cases, they think there’s no information at all in the video so that nothing can be done. In comparison, in about 30% of the cases, our users believe there’s something to do, but they can’t get what they need. The good news is that, if they are correct, there’s quite some room for improvement through training here.

Can you use AI for forensics?

I have a clear opinion on the use of AI for forensics and investigations, and I already presented it in this quite popular blog post. Still, I wanted to get the opinion of our users.

As you can see, the results are pretty fragmented. Very few people think that AI should be completely avoided, but most demand some form of caution on its usage or limit it to the investigative side.

What’s Amped FIVE biggest strength?

As you know, Amped FIVE was born to be the one-stop-shop for any need related to forensic image and video enhancement and analysis. So, the fact that most users chose “completeness” as the biggest strength witnesses we’re going in the right direction! Despite its completeness, apparently, a good part of users find Amped FIVE easy, powerful in its enhancement, and forensically sound with the scientific foundations and reporting capabilities.

What’s the biggest recent improvement to Amped FIVE?

We had users asking for audio support for a long time, and they rewarded us with their answers! Also, the Perspective Stabilization and Perspective Super Resolution filters have been game-changers for many of them. We’ve had many messages congratulating us for the massive power of these tools! 

What makes you happy in Amped FIVE?

Once again, users confirm they’re happy with the software and, most importantly, with its completeness and enhancing capabilities. I guess that means that when it comes to video forensics, less is not more if you know how to use your tools (but hey, that holds for any toolbox in the world)!

My favorite comment of the survey

We had very nice feedback, comments, and suggestions in the open-ended questions of the survey. The one which follows was my favorite.

Technical Support is one of your biggest strengths.  Technology is great, but your people make it relatable.  Blake Sawyer in Training provided a solid background for using FIVE.  He continues to answer the phone when I have questions.  Andrea Frisina in Tech Support has provided knowledgeable and timely assistance with several cases when I have asked for options during FIVE processing.  I don’t have to jump through hoops or navigate a lengthy telephone tree.  Someone simply answers the phone and addresses the issue.  Your team seems truly interested and vested in my cases.  That kind of support is any organization’s biggest strength.” 

You don’t know how much this comment made me happy. This reflects exactly my thoughts and values, and I am so glad this is perceived correctly outside of the company.

You can ask any of the people working in Amped, how much I stress everybody about this point. We are a technology company, so having an excellent product is necessary, but not sufficient. Having the best products is useless if you don’t back them up with the best possible support. For this reason, I bother all my colleagues day to day about being fast, nice and transparent in our replies. Of course, we can’t always solve your issues, but we try, and we care, a lot, about them.

Honorable mention

“Don’t sell your company”

This comment was as simple as is above. For who knows me, my company, my management philosophy, and the current movements in the industry, I couldn’t smile more widely reading it. Maybe this would be the subject of a future post. Never say never, but as I said to the user who submitted this comment, you don’t have to worry… If I am here writing this post now it is because I skipped quite a few selling opportunities. I enjoy working in this field so much, with our team and users, that you’d like to take them off from my cold, dead hand. 😉

Where we are and where we are going

In general, the people who filled the survey were very happy about all the aspects of the company, and it’s clear that our products and technical support are our strongest assets.

The best characteristics of Amped FIVE, highlighted by the vast majority of the users, are its completeness (the number of filters and tools), its enhancement capabilities, and the scientificity it provides.

While we do a lot of educational initiatives with webinars, blog posts, and YouTube videos, people are asking for even more.

On the product development side, we have condensed a bit the opinions and wishes of users. The major topics we will focus our attention on this year are the user interface, the processing speed of the software, and developing features to help with file triage and batch processing.

We will further keep our current efforts on DVR formats conversion, keep adding audio features, improve the capabilities on the presentation side and on the creation of demonstratives

But this is just a part of what’s coming up next… you have already seen the recent big release of Speed Estimation 2d. If this is just the beginning, you know you can expect a great year!