Visual Labs Turns Kyocera Brigadier into Body-Worn Camera for Law Enforcement Agencies

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In 2013, a survey conducted by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) found that approximately 75 percent of the police departments polled did not use body-worn cameras. Since that time, there have been a number of high-profile incidents of deadly police response in Ferguson, Baltimore and elsewhere, prompting law-enforcement agencies nationwide to reconsider deploying police-worn body cameras to both increase transparency and rebuild public trust. As part of the Obama Administration’s Community Policing Initiative, a $75 million investment is now being made to purchase 50,000 body-worn cameras for local law-enforcement agencies to foster greater levels of trust between police officers and the communities they protect and serve.

Visual Labs, working closely with Kyocera, is blazing the trail within the growing public-safety market. Born out of Stanford University and based in Menlo Park, CA, Visual Labs has developed powerful technology that turns smartphones into body-worn computers, arming law enforcement agencies—and others—with a cost-effective solution that can help keep officers safe, enable situation awareness, and provide video evidence in the case of complaint, investigation or trial.

The Visual Labs system is an end-to-end solution for public-safety agencies, delivering body-worn camera functionality (using the embedded camera of a body-mounted smartphone or a remote camera attached via USB cable), real-time positional awareness (leveraging GPS, cellular signals and Wi-Fi hotspots to monitor the location of personnel), video record and playback (which is searchable by virtually any distinguishing detail such as time, date, person, event, or even location), geo-fencing capabilities (enabling dispatchers and other personnel to monitor resources based on user-defined areas), and a remote-activation feature, which all could be used to enhance officer safety.

Another key feature that differentiates the Visual Labs solution is the ability to provide real-time video feeds via cellular networks, which offers critical situational awareness and support to law-enforcement supervisors working to coordinate timely and effective responses, such as in the case of an active-shooter or hostage situation. And because the solution is cloud-based, the capacity to securely store all videos, audio and photos is infinitely scalable.

A Single-Device Solution that Replaces Multiple Pieces of Equipment

Whereas most body-camera offerings are camera-only devices with proprietary infrastructures, Visual Labs has harnessed the power of the smartphone and its video functionality, transforming it into a body-worn computer without the need for officers to connect to any additional hardware. Plus, with a single device, an agency is able to obtain the functionality of a body-worn camera, a stand-alone digital camera, a personnel-location device (replacing in-car AVL units) and a fully functioning smartphone. Consequently, the total cost of the Visual Labs solution can be far less than that of competitive offerings, all with a single device.

The Kyocera Brigadier is a popular device among Visual Labs’ clients, providing an extremely high level of durability, longevity and connectivity, and can operate reliably under varied situations and environments. The Brigadier’s distinguishing features include:

  • Rugged Design – the Brigadier’s inherently rugged design (IP68 and Military Standard 810G certifications) lends itself to the challenges and terrain that officers must navigate while in the field. The device is shock-, dust- and impact-resistant, as well as waterproof, with the ability to survive water immersion up to 6 feet deep for up to 30 minutes.
  • Multiple Programmable Buttons – the Brigadier’s large, programmable buttons allow agencies to pre-configure one-touch video record functionality. Additionally, officers in the field can tag important video moments with the touch of a button.
  • Connectivity – Kyocera offers rugged devices on all the major U.S. carrier networks, meaning there’s a solution available to every agency, no matter the network it chooses to use. The Brigadier is an affordable, off-the-shelf solution sold at Verizon and can typically be purchased for less than $100 on contract. As a result, the hardware acquisition cost for the Brigadier with the Visual Labs solution is much lower than that of other body-camera offerings.
  • Battery Life – With a battery life of more than 14 hours under normal usage, the Brigadier easily lasts an entire shift without the need for an external battery pack, making it an attractive hardware device for law-enforcement agencies, for which longevity and reliability are critical.

While privacy rights are central to the debate surrounding police-worn body cameras, the technology is proving helpful in protecting the delicate relationships between law enforcement and communities. The San Diego Police Department, which has studied the effects of its body-cam deployments, recently found that the technology has led to fewer complaints by residents and less use of force by officers, with complaints falling 40.5 percent and the use of “personal body force” by officers reduced by 46.5 percent. These findings are indicative of the potential advantages resulting from police-worn body cameras, which are certain to trigger long-term public-safety benefits across communities nationwide.

To learn more about how Visual Labs is utilizing the Kyocera Brigadier and body-worn computers to lend transparency into police interactions and improve community relations, visit its web site or contact team@visuallabsinc.com. For more information about the Kyocera Brigadier, go to our web site or follow us on Twitter at @kyoceramobile.

John is director of corporate communications at Kyocera. He has worked on the Kyocera team shaping its communications strategy over the past 15 years – 13 of those years in-house and two with a Kyocera agency partner. John has always had a passion for writing and began his career as a newspaper reporter at the Whittier Daily News, part of a multi-paper syndicate in Los Angeles.  When not working, he and his wife can usually be found coaching, shuttling, refereeing or cheering for his three sons and their numerous plays, concerts and sports teams.

Partner Spotlight: How to Implement PTT into Your Business (And Save Money!) Using Kodiak

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For the past several decades, Push to Talk (PTT) has been a significant technology in enabling business-critical, two-way communications between individuals and groups for businesses and government agencies, helping connect field-force workers with each other and the main office, and first responders providing emergency services. Recently, we’ve explored how the marriage of rugged devices and PTT over LTE networks can power greater levels of enterprise mobility. We’ve also examined how PTT impacts various industries like transportation, construction and public safety to enable everything from dispatching, security and worksite collaboration, to the coordination of an emergency response in the event of a large-scale disaster.

Today, we’re taking a closer look at the evolving PTT ecosystem and how a particular player, Kodiak, is working to bridge the gap between traditional PTT technologies (most notably, Land Mobile Radio or LMR) and Push To Talk over Cellular (PoC) and Wi-Fi networks. At Kyocera, we partner with leading developers to deliver highly dependable PTT services on our rugged mobile devices over ubiquitous communications networks, enabling secure and reliable mobility for workers. Under this approach, we allow organizations to supplement legacy PTT and LMR systems with next-generation PTT, extending the reach of business-critical voice applications while reducing both the total cost of ownership (TCO) and complexities associated with their delivery and management.

Kyocera works closely with Kodiak, which provides one of the industry’s leading purpose-built PTT platform that operates across LMR, LTE and Wi-Fi networks — delivering much-needed performance and interoperability between these historically disjointed communication systems. Kodiak helps enterprises expand the range and capabilities of their instant communications investments regardless of their legacy solution(s) or their current stages of implementation.

PTT Enablement and Cost Savings for Every Organization

In the world of PTT, there are two types of user organizations: those with deeply entrenched deployments and those that are newly discovering how PTT can benefit their businesses. For organizations with legacy PTT investments, the Kodiak platform can augment existing two-way radio networks with additional capacity, geographic coverage and fallback support. For new adopters, Kodiak provides an onramp to PTT enablement without the expense of having to build, lease or maintain LMR networks, equipment and devices.

For both of these groups, the cost savings of the Kodiak platform can be significant, as the annual costs of supporting a carrier-integrated PTT user costs the enterprise 55 percent less than the expense of supporting an LMR user. As we mention in our Push-to-Talk white paper, for organizations that must provision thousands of PTT users, using PTT over cellular networks can generate annual costs savings in the millions.

Kodiak enables organizations to accomplish more with less by extending the number of PTT connections that an existing system can support, and by offering the most advanced platform for organizations seeking to introduce PTT services to streamline one-to-one and one-to-many communications and boost productivity. Using Kodiak in tandem with Kyocera’s rugged mobile devices, enterprises can achieve the following:

  • Unify LMR and Next-Gen Communications Networks – Kodiak powers interoperability between old and new PTT networks, delivering fast, near-zero latency connectivity over 4G, LTE and Wi-Fi. Utilizing a Raytheon ACU series interoperability gateway and Kodiak PoC LMR interoperability cable, Kodiak extends LMR fleets by bridging cellular PTT devices and LMR radios for seamless, interoperable and instant voice communications.
  • Augment, Back Up or Migrate From Two-Way Radio Networks – Kodiak-powered PTT eliminates many of the geographic limitations of LMR radios by providing access to nationwide cellular networks. In addition, the solution allows organizations to increase the number of PTT users supported without making additional investments in dedicated, proprietary LMR towers, equipment and handheld radios. Kodiak not only provides organizations with reliable fallback support for critical voice applications, but also the redundancy and guaranteed uptime for organizations looking to transition away from end-of-life systems.
  • Consolidate Handheld Devices for End-Users – Mobile devices have become standard operating equipment for every level of enterprise worker — from the factory floor to the C-level — providing everything users need in a single device. With a Kodiak-powered solution and rugged mobile devices with dedicated side PTT buttons like those from Kyocera, workers can leverage enhanced Push to Talk directly from their feature phones and smartphones to facilitate one-touch walkie-talkie style communications. Not only are Kyocera rugged devices both more affordable and portable than traditional handheld radios, but they also provide workers with a single mobile device that consolidates one-touch PTT, voice calling, text, video and email communications.
  • Lower TCO – With low-cost, fixed-fee PTT plans and carrier-subsidized Kyocera handsets, PTT powered by Kodiak Networks provides a much-needed, cost-effective alternative to LMR. Unlike handheld radios, mobile phones provide the opportunity to cost-effectively upgrade devices every two years. This allows workers to take full advantage of the latest advances in technology, which is of particular importance for organizations that require enterprise-level security and provisioning, and whose workers rely on an array of productivity applications.

Kyocera’s goal is to deliver one-to-one and one-to-many communications over cellular and Wi-Fi networks, and we design our devices to enhance the PTT experience with loud speakers and a dedicated side button, among others. Kodiak represents a critical partner in helping us revolutionize enterprise mobility. Together, Kodiak and Kyocera’s purpose-built technologies can cost-effectively and reliably augment and even replace many existing land mobile radio (LMR) deployments, while also providing an end-to-end solution for organizations just entering the realm of PTT usage. Kodiak offers greater coverage, reliability and sub-second call set up that can boost organization’s productivity and efficiency. Coupled with Kyocera’s market-leading rugged and waterproof mobile phones, together we stand committed to delivering long-lasting, low-cost PTT solutions to a variety of businesses.

John is director of corporate communications at Kyocera. He has worked on the Kyocera team shaping its communications strategy over the past 15 years – 13 of those years in-house and two with a Kyocera agency partner. John has always had a passion for writing and began his career as a newspaper reporter at the Whittier Daily News, part of a multi-paper syndicate in Los Angeles.  When not working, he and his wife can usually be found coaching, shuttling, refereeing or cheering for his three sons and their numerous plays, concerts and sports teams. 

Say Hello to Kyocera’s Newest Rugged Smartphone with All-In-One Super Wide View HD Action Camera: DuraForce PRO

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Kyocera prides itself on creating mobile devices that are rugged, durable and dependable. Today, I am thrilled to announce the introduction of our newest rugged smartphone—DuraForce PRO. Building on the legacy of our ruggedized smartphones like the DuraForce, Brigadier and Torque, DuraForce PRO raises the bar with stronger specs across the board. And, DuraForce PRO is the first rugged smartphone to augment its standard cameras with a super wide view action camera.

Like its predecessors in Kyocera’s rugged lineup, DuraForce PRO is certified to IP68 for dustproofing and waterproofing (now up to 2 meters deep for up to 30 minutes) and Military Standard 810G for ruggedization. Along with the new action camera, the PRO adds a stronger processor, a larger 5” display, more memory, a larger battery, a fingerprint sensor on the power button for security and much, much more.

Action cameras have become extremely popular for recreational and business use. Adding one to DuraForce PRO means there’s no need to carry a separate device. Because it’s built into a 4G LTE smartphone, you get a 5” high-definition viewfinder to watch what you’re shooting and, instead of having to dock with a PC, the videos and photos can be shared, streamed and posted wirelessly, virtually in real time. Adding to the functionality, DuraForce PRO is waterproof and has an Underwater Mode for the cameras that keeps the viewfinder on, but switches the controls to the phone’s buttons.

For the business world, where durability enhances productivity and saves money, Kyocera devices have become the stocked solution of choice at all four national U.S. carriers and two of the top three in Canada. DuraForce PRO builds on our strength in this category by supporting Android for Work, enterprise-grade Wi-Fi, and many other important features. We’re also very proud of our growing ecosystem of application and accessory developers big and small, whose collaboration allows businesses to turn our phone into customized solution for a variety of industries and vertical markets.

DuraForce PRO has a long list of features and specs that make it stand out in the rugged smartphone category. I won’t list them all here, but encourage you to check out our more detailed official announcement of the phone. Launching nationwide this fall, we’re confident that DuraForce PRO strikes an ideal balance between performance, affordability and durability. Whether you work in tough profession or you’re just an adventurous type who wants to capture memories while you live life to the fullest, the new DuraForce PRO is the right device for you.

For more information about the new Kyocera DuraForce PRO, visit www.kyoceramobile.com/duraforce-pro or follow us on Twitter at @kyoceramobile for more details on device availability in the coming weeks and months.

John is director of corporate communications at Kyocera. He has worked on the Kyocera team shaping its communications strategy over the past 15 years – 13 of those years in-house and two with a Kyocera agency partner. John has always had a passion for writing and began his career as a newspaper reporter at the Whittier Daily News, part of a multi-paper syndicate in Los Angeles.  When not working, he and his wife can usually be found coaching, shuttling, refereeing or cheering for his three sons and their numerous plays, concerts and sports teams.