A crime occurs and is “witnessed” by a digital CCTV system. The files that your investigation wants/needs are in the system’s recording device (DVR). What do you do to get them? Do you seize the entire DVR as evidence (“bag and tag”)? Do you try to access the recorder through its user interface and download/export/save the files to USB stick/drive or other removable media?
Answer: it depends.
There are times when you’d want to seize the DVR. Perhaps 5% of cases will present a situation where having the DVR in the lab is necessary:
- Arsons/fires can turn a DVR into a bunch of melted down parts. You’re obviously not going to power up a melted DVR.
- An analysis that tests how the DVR performs and creates files. For example, does the frame timing represent the actual elapsed time or how the DVR fit that time into its container? Such tests of reliability will require access to the DVR throughout the legal process.
- Content analysis questions where there’s a difference of opinion between object/artifact. For example, is it a white sticker on the back of a car or an artifact of compression (random bit of noise)?
If you’re taking a DVR from a location, you can follow the guidance of the computer forensics world on handling the DVR (which is a computer) and properly removing it from the scene.
We work in the field of forensic video analysis, which is generally intended as the analysis of the images themselves and their context in a legal setting. For this reason, our customers often ask us if our products are valid for court use and if they have been validated and certified. We have written this post as an answer to the most common questions related to this topic.
You can also download this as a PDF document here.
What are the scientific foundations of Amped Software products?
All the processes implemented in our software follow the principles of scientific methodology. Any process follows these basic principles:
- Accuracy (Reliability): our tools and training program help users avoid processing errors caused by the implementation of an inappropriate tool or workflow and help mitigate the impact of human factors / bias.
- Repeatability: the same process, executed by the same user at a different time, must lead to the same result. The project format in Amped FIVE, for example, does not save any image data. Every time a project is reopened, all the processing happens again starting from the original data. In the event that a project file is lost or as a part of a validation or other test scenario, the same user can repeat the steps and settings, guided by the tool’s report, and achieve the same results.
- Reproducibility: another user with the proper competency, should be able to reproduce the same results. Amped FIVE generates a complete report detailing all the steps of the processing, the settings / parameters applied, a description of the algorithms employed in the processing and the scientific references for those algorithms (when applicable). In this way, another user, with a different tool set or by implementing the same algorithms, should be able to reproduce the same results. Given the huge number of implementation details and possible differences, it is not expected to produce a bit by bit copy of the results, but only to produce an image of similar informative content.
Additionally, we apply strict due diligence on the applicability of the algorithms for the forensic environment. Not every algorithm is, in fact, properly applicable in a forensic science setting. We cannot use algorithms which have a random component because they would not be reproducible and repeatable (when we do, we set a fixed seed for the random number generation) and we cannot use algorithms which “add” external data to the original, for example improving the quality of a face with information added from an average face. All information is derived from the actual evidence file.
We employ algorithms which have been validated by the scientific community through peer review, such as university textbooks, scientific publications, or conference papers. If for some specific task, there are not good enough algorithms available or we need to adapt existing algorithms, we describe the algorithm and attempt to publish them in scientific journals. Continue reading
When a driver wraps his car around a tree, the damage is likely rather obvious. Same again for a head-on collision at high speed. There’s not much car left to repair, so the insurance companies will likely pay out on the policy.
But in today’s app-driven world, minor dents and scratches are now being handled by the policy holder through the use of mobile device apps. Simply snap a picture or video of the damage and upload it to the insurance company. Claims are processed the same day and your money arrives quickly. Folks love this mobile claims processing functionality so much that insurance companies are featuring their time-saving apps in their advertising.
Whilst customers love this convenience, so do crooks. It turns out that fraudsters are using photo editing software to create fake photo evidence in support of bogus claims. This type of activity affects all policy holders as losses are spread out across all customers, keeping rates higher than they should be in a fraud-free world.
Enter Amped Software.
Without naming names (I don’t want to ruin the fraud-catchers’ fun), our software is being employed as both a risk management function (catching fraud), as well as to assist claims processors when folks turn in proprietary CCTV files in support of claims. Continue reading
Simplicity, speed, and forensic integrity all come together in Amped’s latest software, providing law enforcement and digital forensic labs with a quick and easy stand-alone solution to the challenge of video conversion.
It’s been a few months since its release, so hopefully by now, you will have seen the blog posts and press releases regarding Amped DVRConv. It is a very easy program to use…it really is. You tell the application that you have a video file that you cannot play, the software analyzes the file and format, and then it gives you a video file that you can play in any standard playback software, along with the conversion log for full disclosure.
How do you tell it? That’s easy as well. You either use drag and drop, copy and paste, or even have it ‘watch’ a specific folder and then convert immediately.
Customers often ask us about the hardware requirements for our products before purchasing. While we have some recommendation, the reality is that many of our customers use Amped FIVE (or our other products) on unbelievably old computers. Sure, Amped FIVE would be slower, but for working on low-resolution CCTV videos, even a 10-year-old PC with Windows XP (not recommended!) still works mostly fine.
I recently taught one of our courses at a customer’s premises. Since the class was quite full and they didn’t have enough recent laptops to bring into the training room, about half of the students had pretty old laptops. During the training, we normally provide the software installer and training examples on USB drives. Some people claimed that their PC was not able to see the drive. We figured out that they were using Windows XP SP2, they were not connected to the Internet and had not updated in ages. Continue reading
The Joint Technology Committee (COSCA)(NCSC)(NACM) had released version 1 of their document Managing Digital Evidence in Courts.
“Technologies including smartphones and body-worn cameras are capturing an ever- increasing volume of evidence. The exponential increase in the quantity of digital evidence is challenging the court’s ability to receive, evaluate, protect, and present digital evidence. This report identifies potential challenges and recommends steps courts should consider.”
In its recommendations around the conversion of proprietary video file types, it noted the following:
- Avoid creating arbitrary limitations on acceptable formats for digital evidence.
- Work with law enforcement, prosecutors, and local labs to consider the tradeoffs
between converting and not converting digital video evidence.
Interestingly, when the state of Texas (US) was considering a statewide standard for video sharing in its many court districts, Amped Software was the only company to be able to say: “Yes, we’re ready now. We can convert an overwhelming majority of proprietary file types into the proxy file type of your choosing.”
Want a .re4 file converted into a Raw MOV file? Done. Want a .SEC file converted into an MP4 or an AVI file? Done. Our standalone conversion tool is second to none. We’re converting over 80% of proprietary video file types found, with more being added as we encounter them.
Meet Amped DVRConv – our best-kept secret.
We receive quite a few phone calls and e-mails from well-meaning customers wanting us to “crack” secure in-car or body worn camera video files. They get frustrated because our conversion tools in Amped FIVE or Amped DVRConv don’t “crack” files for them. The easiest explanation is that our tools aren’t designed to defeat security.
It took us a while, but we wanted to make sure it was perfect! Today, we finally officially launched our newest product called Amped DVRConv. In a nutshell, Amped DVRConv allows you (our customers) to easily and quickly convert unplayable/proprietary video files from surveillance cameras and digital video recorders, in minutes. This means you can now get to that vital digital evidence faster than ever!
Read below for the official announcement or click here.
Visit the new Amped DVRConv product page on our website for further technical details.