Video surveillance recorder scoops Queen’s Award for innovation

A ground-breaking digital video recorder used by the majority of UK forces to carry out video surveillance operations has won a prestigious Queen’s Award for innovation.

May 8, 2008
By Paul Jacques

A ground-breaking digital video recorder used by the majority of UK forces to carry out video surveillance operations has won a prestigious Queen’s Award for innovation.

The AfterBurner from Ovation Systems is the first-ever time-lapse DVD recorder available for law enforcement use.

It offers all the benefits of high-quality DVD recording coupled with the operational strengths of a traditional video cassette recorder (VCR).

It has been specifically designed for police forces to replace their ageing VCRs with digital technology. It allows police to continue to use the same evidence auditing procedures as a standard VCR but with the advantages of digital quality and ease of handling.

It operates in real-time, or time-lapse, allowing 24 hours or more of video to be burnt to a single disk which is viewable on any standard DVD player. When deployed, AfterBurner records to its internal hard drive, providing at least 12 days of unattended recording. The image quality is far superior to the old VCR technology.

Data integrity is assured as the video is burnt to a ‘locked’ DVD+ disk that can then undergo standard (VCR tape based) evidential procedures and audit trails.

It was developed following discussions the former National Crime Squad, now the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), and so meets the digital imaging guidelines laid down by the Home Office Scientific Development Branch (HOSDB).

Previously, all procedures for video evidence gathering in serious crime operations were based around the use of VHS tapes. As a result, there were concerns that VCRs were becoming obsolete and that digital CCTV recorders were not meeting their operational needs.

David Millar, sales and marketing director at Ovation Systems said: “The AfterBurner was developed to help support surveillance activity and gather evidence that will stand up to scrutiny in court.

“It is being used at a time when terrorist and other undercover investigations have become increasingly complex and so officers need to have the most cutting-edge technology available to underpin their efforts.”

Widely acknowledged as the UK’s most prestigious awards for business performance, the Queen’s Awards recognise and reward outstanding achievement by UK companies. They are presented in three separate categories: international trade, innovation and sustainable development.

The AfterBurner, introduced three years ago, secured an award for innovation. Forty-four of the 48 UK police forces and law enforcement agencies are deploying it, along with many other security agencies.

Disadvantages of VHS tapes:

•Preparing the tape for court submission can be cumbersome. Officers have to locate tapes in central stores and then repeatedly rewind and review the tapes, to search for specific events.

•VHS tapes are also susceptible to damage and offer limited temperature range and picture quality.

•The physical size of VHS tapes is also a problem because evidence has to be stored for a period of at least five years, which requires costly storage space.

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