Are Cell Phone Cameras the Next Step from Body Worn Cameras?

Are Cell Phone Cameras the Next Step from Body Worn Cameras?


Police departments in America are testing a cell phone app as a potentially cheaper alternative to the traditional body worn cameras. Body camera companies often give them free devices, or offer a discount, but they require the police departments to use their service to store the reams of data collected each day. This is where it gets expensive. With 90% of the nation’s 18,000 police departments having fewer than 50 officers, they are struggling to afford them.


A new system created by CopCast allows officers to download an app to a smartphone – a version to a desktop is also downloaded by the supervisors. The phone can be strapped to the officer’s chest, and after hitting a button it will record both video and audio. This will stream live to police headquarters, where supervisors monitoring will be able to see the officer’s exact location using GPS technology. This is all automatically saved to the server, saving the officer’s time. With body cameras, the officers are required to download the total recorded video footage at the end of each shift, when the footage is then reviewed and organised prior to being analysed by their supervisors.

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After months of testing the app with ten officers, it is expected to be rolled out to 250 officers. They agree that because it is an app, it can be revised and developed in the future according to police departments’ needs. CopCast is helping to lower the barriers of entry and lower the cost of body worn cameras, enabling police departments to look for less expensive support and storage services.


As more and more police officers on a daily basis come up against violent encounters, body worn cameras such as those from are becoming a necessary piece of equipment. This new technology means that more departments to be able to afford to provide this equipment.

CopCast was developed by the Brazilian Igarape Institute, a group of experts who focus on justice and security issues. They have opened the door for competition and innovation which will allow police departments around the world the opportunity to adopt body worn camera technology. It will also improve police accountability and the trust of the public, which in this increasingly violent era can only be a help.

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