If there’s one thing almost everyone can agree on, it’s that there are so many options whenever you’re shopping for something new. While it’s wonderful to have such a selection, it can be daunting and confusing to make the final decision. Technology is one area filled with competition, each promising the best of the best. When it comes to technology solutions, you want to make the choice that is right for you, but it can be a real struggle to determine which one will actually meet your needs.
We’re back with another installment of the “3 Things to Look For” Series. We’ve previously discussed eFiling and eSignatures , two very important tools in today’s digital climate. This week, we want to focus on a growing Justice System technology, Digital Evidence Management systems. If you follow court cases at all, you’ve likely seen digital evidence in action. From videos to audio clips to emails, exhibits are more high-tech than ever before. Courts need a dependable way to store, manage, share, and playback these new formats so they can be used as evidence that will ultimately lead to justice being served. Here are 3 of the green flags to keep in mind when comparing Digital Evidence Management systems.
Digital Evidence Management systems should be user-friendly for all parties.
The US Justice System is a very complex entity that involves multiple departments, specific protocols, and countless hours of work for all cases. A good Digital Evidence Management system will work to make all parties’ jobs easier whenever possible. While many people associate evidence with law enforcement, the fact of the matter is that nearly all job roles in the Justice System are involved with exhibits in some way or another. It’s crucial to select a Digital Evidence Management system that can benefit all involved parties rather than “specializing” in a particular role. There are a few things you should keep an eye out for to determine how user-friendly a system really is.
- You don’t have to jump through hoops to upload new files. Is there a process to upload new digital evidence? Of course! However, that process doesn’t need to include dozens of steps and take days to get done. An effective Digital Evidence Management system will allow new files to be uploaded with as little work as possible while still maintaining a proper chain of custody and following court protocols.
- You can share files simply and securely. Storing digital evidence is great, but it’s not much use if you cannot share the exhibits with other parties. A solid system will allow for simple sharing with your own team or outside players without sacrificing security and file protection (more on that later).
- Digital Evidence is accessible and organized for quick reference. Successful Digital Evidence Management systems have the ability to organize and manage files large and small. It should be simple to manage files by type, case, case type, and more for simple callback at a later date. No one should be spending hours hunting down a file – searching should be self-explanatory and possible using several identifiers.
Vault is ImageSoft’s Digital Evidence Management system. It was designed with the input from Justice System personnel to ensure it meets all needs. Vault is as user-friendly as possible from beginning to end, offering benefits to all job roles.
- Law enforcement can quickly upload digital evidence files from any device.
- Attorneys can upload additional files, review all evidence during Discovery, make in-platform notations, and playback files during the trial.
- Judges can integrate Vault with electronic benches to view digital evidence from the courtroom in real-time.
- Clerks and Admins can upload files, quickly organize them, and reference them at a later date.
Digital Evidence Management systems should handle multimedia formats to replace outdated Justice System technology.
We are surrounded by hundreds of types of technology every day. An image from your smartphone is not in the same format as video from your doorbell cam, or even images from your laptop. In the context of typical life, there’s rarely a time where you need to concern yourself with the main formats. After all, you have the devices at your disposal to replay or review each item individually – you can pull out your phone’s camera roll, head to the doorbell cam app, or open your laptop. In the courts, this can be much messier of a process.
Oftentimes, the original device is not available to the courts. In that case, how can files be played back? Historically speaking, the courts employed several Justice System technology solutions in each case. Nowadays, many of these devices are outdated and cannot handle the new formats. In addition, many courts do not have access to all the necessary devices, meaning that crucial exhibits might not be admitted solely because it cannot be reviewed during a trial. Digital evidence needs to be normalized so that it can be played without wheeling in an ancient television, hooking up a VCR, or dusting off a cassette player.
When designing Vault, our experts prioritized its true multimedia capabilities. As a result, Vault automatically normalizes files into playable formats for any device. With the exception of some proprietary and emerging formats, Vault can translate nearly any file into something that can be viewed on laptops, phones, or tablets. When it’s time for the trial, courtrooms don’t have to hunt down old Justice System technology, they can simply open up a laptop and get things started.
All digital evidence should be protected by unrivaled security.
Last but certainly not least, you should only adopt a Digital Evidence Management system that guarantees security. Exhibits are often confidential outside of those involved in the trial. In criminal cases, files can be disturbing or gruesome in a way that the public should never have to see. Digital evidence is also regularly redacted to prevent sensitive information from getting into the wrong hands. If your system doesn’t protect all files, you risk letting critical information out. Leaks can result in a mistrial, or get the entire case thrown out. Everyone deserves a fair shot at justice and protecting the evidence that will do that doesn’t have to be hard.
Vault is backed by Government-level security to help all parties feel confident throughout the process. Digital evidence files can be shared with authorized users backed by top-notch encryption. Any time a file is viewed, edited, shared, etc., an automatic audit trail is created for it. This allows anyone involved to check a log to see who touched the file last. Not only does this protect the chain of custody, but it also holds everyone accountable. There is no way for someone to sneak around, nor can outside users break in undetected. From the time of upload, all files are protected by the highest-level security possible so that all involved parties can work within the platform worry-free. Don’t worry, even with all these security measures, Vault is extremely simple to use and is accessible to those it should be.
So, do the Digital Evidence Management systems you’re looking into have these three green flags? While they are not the only things to look for, they are three of the most important if you want a chance at success with your new Justice System technology. Other features to watch for include integration capabilities, communication options, file size acceptance, and mobile access. As always, you know what’s best for your organization. If you still find the hunt daunting, we suggest creating two prioritized lists; one for Needs, and one for Wants. As a general rule of thumb, you don’t want to sacrifice any of the Needs, but you might have to part with some of the Wants.
Vault is proud to check all three of the mentioned boxes and then some to provide the best solution possible. We have met hundreds of customers’ expectations in the past, both from the Needs and Wants lists. If you’re interested in learning more about Vault and what it can do for you, visit https://imagesoftinc.com/courts/digital-evidence-management/. To request a free custom demo, or for advice with the daunting hunt, please reach out to our team.