Here at ImageSoft, we work very closely with members of the Justice System to bring them technology solutions that streamline their day-to-day processes. One of our newest products, Vault, assists with Digital Evidence Management to make it possible to organize and playback multimedia files. Court cases are seeing a drastic increase in the amount of video, electronic, and non-paper evidence, so personnel need a solution to handle it all. Vault is our response to the problem, and we’ve learned a lot about digital evidence and Digital Evidence Management along the way. Today, we wanted to share some of the information we’ve uncovered on our quest to create an end-to-end Digital Evidence Management solution.

  • According to The Guardian, roughly 90% of criminal cases in 2021 involved some type of digital evidence. The study discusses the growing field of digital forensics and the scientific processes behind drawing conclusions and finding evidence from digital devices. The digital forensics field has been steadily improving since the study, but it is valuable to take a look at older reports to see how far we’ve come. It was clear back in 2021 that training would be key, and proper education is at the forefront of the industry today.
  • There are countless devices around us at all times, all of which could be used to source digital evidence. This statement is not meant to scare you. Rather, it is meant to inform you of just how important the field is and will continue to be. We are surrounded by devices daily, many of which track data in some form or another. Most commonly, we encounter:
    • Cellphones
    • Computers/Laptops
    • Doorbell/Home Security Cameras
    • CCTV Cameras
    • Dashboard Cameras
    • Social Media
    • Third-Party Mobile Devices
    • Car Computers
    • Cameras/Video Cameras
    • License Plate Readers
    • Police Body Cams
    • And More
  • Some of the most famous criminal cases have used digital evidence. Without going into detail about these famous (infamous) criminal cases, it’s very telling to see digital forensics play a role in bringing the victims to Justice. Cases include the BTK Killer, the Craigslist Killer, the death of Conrad Roy, the arson trial of Ross Compton, and Amber Heard vs Johnny Depp.
  • As of the end of 2021, there were over 1 billion surveillance cameras in use worldwide. According to a report, less than one year ago we surpassed the 1 billion mark for active surveillance cameras. With better quality and advanced facial recognition software, that number is expected to grow by around 30% in no time.
  • One of the challenges of video evidence is finding a device to play it back. We are “spoiled” in a sense with our ability to consume video content from our devices. However, there are countless formats that typical laptops and smartphones cannot play. Special devices are needed in these instances which can hinder the ability to utilize the evidence in court. Private security companies are notorious for using proprietary formats that are incompatible with your average device, and other formats are too high-tech or low-tech for the type of laptop consumers have at their disposal today.  
  • The average American sends or receives around 41.5 text messages per day. How often do you stay in contact with friends and family? Texting is one of the most popular forms of digital communication because it’s convenient, quick, and fun. In some criminal cases, phones are seized and texts are investigated. Imagine shifting through all of those messages!
  • Videos that are downloaded or exported can lose frames, making it inadmissible as evidence. For those who work with video frequently, this may not come as a shock. However, many people don’t realize that video frames can be lost when exporting or downloading from or to certain devices/formats. When dealing with evidence, lost frames could point to interference, resulting in the entire video being rejected as an exhibit. Streaming videos in the Vault platform is a great way to avoid dropping frames because there’s no need to take the video to a third-party app.   
  • Cars have “black boxes” just like planes. While newer vehicles have all the bells and whistles technology allows, “tracking” your car has been around for decades. All cars have Event Data Recorders that track the car’s systems. These computers are used commonly when investigating accidents because the recorder can identify how fast the car was traveling, if brakes were applied, and which airbags deployed when. This has been used to prove that someone who claims they tried to stop actually did not because the black box shows no brake activity immediately before the crash.
  • Generally speaking, a case can have an infinite number of exhibits. Certain states or courthouses have their own rules, but generally, a case can include as many exhibits as it wants to (so long as they are accepted by the judge). What do you think takes up more room? 2,000 paper-based exhibits in binders and boxes, or 2,000 digital exhibits stored in Vault. If you want to avoid overflowing evidence lockers, going digital is the perfect solution.
  • While a trial typically lasts for a few days to a few weeks, preparation can take months or years. For the average person, their experience with trials include those streamed on television and those in shows or films. The actual trial part typically runs for a few days to a few weeks. What we fail to see from our home-viewer position is the months or years of work and preparation prior to the court date. Lawyers must collect evidence during the Discovery period. Judges must approve evidence before it is admitted as exhibits. From there, attorneys must build their case and work through the timeline with a fine-tooth comb. The testifying parties must be briefed, prepared, subpoenaed, and coached. Some resources say that it takes roughly one hour of preparation for every 10 minutes of testimony for the attorney, and can take four to five hours for direct and cross-examination prep for witnesses and their client. Digital evidence is far easier to manage and keep track of over a long period of time than folders of loose paper documents.

As you can see, digital evidence is far more complex than meets the eye. In our journey towards creating Vault, we have uncovered many fascinating facts that have changed our perspective of the world around us. Technology is a part of life, and it’s quickly becoming a major part of court cases. We are thrilled to see what the future holds for digital forensics as processes and capabilities become even more advanced. Vault will continue to grow and change with the climate because our team is dedicated to offering the most valuable Digital Evidence Management services possible. If you’re interested in learning more about Vault and what it can do for the Justice System, please visit www.DEMVault.com.

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