During investigations and trials, video is one of the most common and most effective forms of evidence, but unfortunately, it is often taken for granted. There are many challenges to consider in relation to video evidence, and we believe it is of crucial importance to understand how users around the world are handling these and how the trends are shaping the state of video forensics in 2022 and beyond. For this reason, we launched in July a survey to hear the thoughts and opinions of video evidence practitioners from around the world.
Many questions were raised, such as:
- “What are the most useful and common types of evidence during an investigation?”
- “What are the main issues while working on video?”
- “Which kind of training did you receive on image and video forensics?
- “How long does it take to work on an image/video case on average?”
We received some very interesting answers and discovered some useful key findings that will help us predict what are the upcoming trends that your agency, organization, and lab are facing or will soon need to face.
Here are five video forensics trends that you need to be aware of for 2023. Read on to find out the results!
Who participated in the survey
The survey had a total of 140 respondents from 22 different countries, with United States alone having almost half of the replies. About 95% of the respondents are users of our software.
The majority of the participants, by the way, belonged to a Law Enforcement Agency, mostly from an Image/Video Analysis Unit or a Digital Forensics/Cybercrime Unit.
Trend 1: Low image quality and video conversion continue to be the most common challenges with video evidence
Similarly to the previous survey we launched in 2021 for the Amped User days, low image quality is by far the biggest issue (hence the popularity of our flagship product Amped FIVE, which stands for “Forensic Image and Video Enhancement), followed by the fact that most videos from CCTV are in a proprietary format (a problem solved by the Amped Conversion Engine also used by Amped DVRConv and Amped Replay). Interestingly several respondents added as an important factor the lack of knowledge about the challenges of images and videos by stakeholders, like chiefs, customers, or colleagues working in less technical roles. This aligns very well with all the awareness initiatives we are doing at Amped and at the European Parliament.
You may also find interesting our introductory training course “Investigating Video Evidence” to recognize what are the challenges and pitfalls faced when using digital multimedia evidence for investigations.
Trend 2: The amount of image/video casework is likely to increase over the next years
We tried to understand the amount of work respondents have to do and if this has increased from 2020 to 2022.
The first question was, “How much time do you dedicate to an image/video case on average?” Many didn’t give a specific answer, saying that it varies too much. For the others, these are the results, while just indicative, they are very interesting:
- Average: 2 days
- Median: 5 hours
- Minimum: 15 minutes
- Maximum: 1 month
The second was “Can you tell us, on average, how many image/video cases you work on per week?” These are the results:
- Average: 7 cases per week
- Median: 4 cases per week
- Minimum: a few cases per year
- Maximum: 100 cases per week 😱
We then asked if the amount of image/video casework increased with respect to three years ago, and almost 75% said that their workload increased in some way (more than 50% declares it increased a lot), which we believe it’s pretty interesting.
But what are the reasons for this increase? You can see a summary of the responses below:
Overall the two biggest factors for growth in the number of cases were the increase in crime rate and the change (supposedly an improvement) in image and video quality. Many mentioned the ever-increasing amount of devices, with strong growth, especially by smart doorbells and similar cloud cameras like Ring, Nest, and so on.
Also, the increase in cases handled locally or by investigators resulted in an important factor that could be further investigated.
Considering the increasing trend of image video casework, we expect the number of cases to grow further in 2023.
Trend 3: CCTV/DVR videos are the most common kind of evidence used to solve a crime
How often different kinds of evidence are useful to solve a crime? The results here show the power and ubiquity of CCTV videos as a source evidence, followed by other kinds of data from mobile phones and images and videos coming from sources that are not CCTV (for example, mobile phones, social, drones, etc.).
For what regards the specific source of data for image/video investigations, it is also interesting to note that surveillance videos are the most used data types during investigations. It’s not a surprise for them to come up as a clear winner, followed by media on a mobile phone. In-car videos, body-worn, and interview room videos are lagging behind on average, but for some users and some countries, they are actually pretty popular: they are not just so omnipresent everywhere like CCTV and mobile phones. After quite hyped growth a few years ago, it seems that drones are not a major source of footage during investigations, compared to the others.
Trend 4: Users are mostly doing training through software vendors
Training is an essential part of forensic activity, and we were very pleased to find out that the vast majority of respondents had some kind of training, mostly provided by software vendors like us. If you are one of the few who didn’t have our training yet, check the next available class. 😀
Trend 5: Top job titles in video forensics
One of the most interesting questions concerns the professional title of the respondents. We wanted to know how the titles in the video forensics field are evolving today.
As you can see in the image below, the word “forensic” was by far the most popular, appearing in almost half of the titles, followed by “video”, “analyst”, digital”, “technician”, and so on. By combining the words you can easily see some of the most common titles used nowadays, such as “forensic video analyst”. This may be interesting for you when searching for new jobs within the industry 😉.
Methodology: Please note that we did a normalization of the replies. We translated in English words from another language and expanded acronyms (for example, “FVA” became “forensic video analyst”). Then we mapped the frequency of the various words, limiting them to those with at least 5 appearances.
We learned about many different insights thanks to this survey, and we hope this information could be useful for you as well! Thanks to anybody who contributed to it and sent us feedback.
If you are a user and want to be more in touch, join our Discord server. Awesome things happen there!