Essential Features of a Good Digital Evidence Management System

Essential Features of a Good Digital Evidence Management System

Gov CIO Outlook | Monday, August 22, 2022

DEMS ensures that agencies correctly gather and manage their case evidence, along with training and department policy that follows best practices.

FREMONT, CA: The volume of digital evidence is too great for departments to ignore. Police administrators must train officers on handling digital evidence, especially retrieving and analyzing surveillance footage. A police department's virtual command center for managing all of its digital evidence is a Digital Evidence Management System (DEMS). Agencies should have a system to gather, preserve, and manage digital evidence while following local laws, regulations, and best practices.

Compliant and secure

A single copy of any file is a significant risk. It may be necessary to use backup copies if the storage system crashes or specific files become corrupt. Different geographic locations and storage systems should store two copies (three is preferred). Redundant storage ensures digital evidence is always backed up. Digital evidence could be stored locally (on-premise) and backed up in the cloud. Digital evidence can be stored locally (on-premises), in the cloud, or both. DE S provides individual and group access to digital evidence. Depending on their role, police personnel have access to specific case types.

Scalable and agnostic storage

DEMS should be flexible and integrate with different types of storage. Police departments may store evidence internally on Synology NAS devices, while larger departments can opt to use hybrid on-premises/cloud solutions. The DEMS should be scalable, so departments can easily chain multiple storage options or increase their storage capacity as needed. Maintaining DEMS may become prohibitively expensive annually if vendors suggest locking into their proprietary storage solutions. Migration of digital evidence from a proprietary solution can also be challenging and costly.

Options for deployment

Several DEMS solutions are web-based, while others are installed on-premises. DEMS solutions that are comprehensive in nature offer both options as part of their functionality. Evidence is uploaded and reviewed based on how the DEMS is implemented. Desktop applications (installed on workstations) provide deeper access to case evidence and functionality for police administrators and detectives. The patrol officer may only have to upload digital evidence via a web-based interface from time to time. A DEMS that can access virtually anywhere within the organization's network is essential for departments with more than a few officers, precincts, and substations spread out geographically. Agencies have unlimited flexibility with DEMS solutions that offer desktop applications and web-based options.

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