Trends in Technology

iStock_000045362422LargeFor investigators advancements in electronics and the internet continue to move rapidly, opening new opportunities and closing others.  (i.e. a phone book is pretty useless), but some of the new abilities are gimmicks and might give a marketing edge for an investigative vendor, but don’t usually add anything substantive to the investigation process- such as streaming video from the surveillance location.  Other technology is a mine field of potential litigation, such as vehicle tracking devices, or cell phone pings.  Some of the technology crosses ethical boundaries even when it does not break laws. One area of technology that has changed the most- the video tape is no longer a supported technology. Most cameras are digital using a hard drive or flash drive.  At first there had been a stumbling block as to how to use a consumer grade camera and send the digital video over the internet while at the same time capturing the time and date.  The time and date had not been a problem with analog technology and tapes but it didn’t transfer with the picture, at first with a Firewire or USB.  The time date info was always there in the metadata with most video formats, but when uploaded we couldn’t get to it. This was not just investigators but also taped depositions and anyone that needed to record evidence and send it over the internet with the time and date.   That seems to be solved with software that now will pull the metadata off the video and burn it over the original video.  One of the advances that most investigative vendors can now do is upload video from the field to the company’s home office.  There is no original tape as we were once used to producing, but with digital, the courts seem to rule in most jurisdictions that a digital copy is the same as an original.  (Legal departments need to fully weigh in on this subject).