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How Agencies Can Utilize Private Camera Surveillance Systems

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By Kurt Binversie, Faculty Member, Intelligence Studies at American Military University

Every day, technological advancements continue to change the way law enforcement accesses and uses information. The interconnectivity of technology, often referred to as the Internet of Things, or IoTs, offers many opportunities for law enforcement to enhance their investigative techniques by accessing valuable information that may not have been readily available to them in the past.

[Related: IoT Technology Is Changing Healthcare, But Not Without Risk]

Footage from residential and private business security cameras can be instrumental in police investigations. New technology services such as Ring, Nest, LorexTechnology, and others offer internet-based, DIY, security systems with networked camera options. For example, these technology-based services allow the user to monitor their cameras using a smart device and sends out alerts and footage when activity is detected. These high-quality, networked video surveillance systems also allow users to share footage.

The relatively low-cost and easy installation of home surveillance systems has led to an increasing number of residential homes being equipped with this technology. This means law enforcement has a growing opportunity to access important evidence that can be captured on these recording devices.

I recently saw this in action. Not long ago, my neighbor was driving home from a 12-hour night shift. He fell asleep at the wheel while driving through our neighborhood and crashed into a parked car, flipping his own car over in the middle of the street. Local law enforcement sought permission from a nearby neighbor to view their security camera, which recorded the whole incident. Officers were able to quickly and easily access this footage for their investigation.

Agencies are learning to be proactive in how they use IoTs, particularly privately-owned camera systems. An increasing number of agencies are asking business owners and residents to register their private security cameras to help save detectives valuable hours in an investigation and provide information that could potentially decrease crime rates.

However, convincing the public to permit law enforcement to access personal surveillance systems has its challenges. One strategy that many agencies employ is conveying how important community participation is in maintaining public safety. For instance, the Vacaville (California) Police Department named their camera surveillance registration program Citizen View. In Longmont, Colorado, their camera surveillance registration program is called Neighborhood Surveillance Camera Registration.

Law enforcement agencies or community organizations that are interested in starting a camera surveillance registration program should reference the guide created by the U.S. Department of Justice Community Oriented Policing Service (COPS) and the Urban Institute Justice Policy Center. This 72-page document aims to aid municipalities and agencies make informed decisions about implementing or expanding a shared public surveillance system.

Sharing footage from surveillance systems is just one example of how law enforcement agencies are using IoTs to help with investigations, solve crimes, identify perpetrators, and provide valuable evidence in court.

About the Author: Kurt Binversie is an active-duty Marine with more than 19 years of dedicated service. He is currently the Imagery Chief as part of Production and Analysis Company, Intelligence Support Battalion and holds a Master of Science and Technology Intelligence degree from the National Intelligence University and is a graduate of National Defense Intelligence College (B.A. Intelligence). Binversie is currently an adjunct professor with American Military University. He may be contacted at To contact the author, email For more articles featuring insight from industry experts, subscribe to In Public Safety’s bi-monthly newsletter


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