Kyocera’s DuraForce PRO Lends An Assist to the Yuma County Sheriff’s Office

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Not surprisingly, body-worn cameras are becoming an increasingly valuable piece of equipment for law-enforcement agencies across the United States. Laws and regulations governing the use of body cameras by law enforcement vary significantly from state to state, but many agencies are in the process of issuing body-worn camera equipment to officers while on the job.

To address this increasing demand and a need for high-tech, cost-effective options, Kyocera and body-worn camera software provider Visual Labs have worked closely to provide smartphone-based camera solutions to a growing number of police departments and sheriff’s offices across the United States. Along with video record and playback, the combined functionality of the smartphone and software also provides real-time GPS-based positional awareness, geo-fencing capabilities, and a remote-activation feature that can be operated by command staff or authorized dispatchers.

After extensive testing of traditional body-worn cameras, the Yuma County (Colorado) Sheriff’s Office recently opted instead to outfit its Patrol and Detention divisions with the Visual Labs solution running on Kyocera’s new DuraForce PRO rugged smartphone.

According to the Yuma County Sheriff’s Office, one of the key selling points of the Visual Labs/Kyocera DuraForce PRO solution that differentiated it from other options was the added functionality of the smartphone compared to traditional stand-alone body cameras. In particular, the solution’s GPS functionality allows the department to analyze geographical data to assess the effectiveness of patrolling certain “hotspot” areas in its jurisdiction.

The Yuma County Sheriff’s Office believes these smartphone-based cameras will significantly benefit the community and the Office. “Body worn cameras will not only offer us the opportunity to provide the District Attorney’s Office with audio-video evidence in criminal cases, but also are a useful measure of transparency, and a means of more thoroughly addressing any potential complaints against staff from citizens and inmates,” said Sheriff Chad Day. “And beyond that, we’re excited to have the ability to share positive and encouraging interactions with our community.”

All of us at Kyocera are incredibly proud of our partnership with Visual Labs and the solutions we have been able to offer public-safety workers. For more information on Visual Labs visit: https://www.visuallabsinc.com, and for details on Kyocera’s rugged smartphone lineup, visit: https://www.kyoceramobile.com/phones/

John is director of corporate communications at Kyocera. He has worked on the Kyocera team shaping its communications strategy over the past 17 years – 14 of those years in-house and three 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. 

The Future of Mission-Critical LTE Communications

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A Recap from IWCE LTE Forum Chicago

Earlier last month, a group of technology professionals, public safety agencies, and enterprise and government representatives gathered in Chicago at the IWCE Critical LTE Communications Forum. The conference explored the challenges and solutions for mapping the transition from voice-centric land mobile radio (LMR) to mission-critical multimedia LTE network solutions.

The key themes of the conference centered on the transition from LMR to LTE, and what technology solutions are needed for mission-critical LTE.

The Transition from LMR to LTE: As mission-critical communication needs evolve from being voice-centric to including multimedia data, including group chats and video applications, there is a need for more sophisticated and reliable LTE networks. An ecosystem of players is gathering to create the solutions and applications for enterprise, government and public safety organizations to transition to LTE networks that provide secure, reliable voice, data and multimedia for emergency services and other mission-critical events.

Technology Solutions for Mission-Critical LTE: Device-to-device communications, focusing on mission-critical data, video and Push-To-Talk (PTT) applications, requires high levels of interoperability and collaboration across multiple industries and groups. From operators to device manufacturers to solutions providers, the ecosystem requires interoperable standards and open solutions for mission-critical LTE to become a reality. And it’s a big opportunity – for example, there are currently more than 3.5 million PTT users who will need to migrate over to mission-critical LTE in a seamless, reliable transition.

During the forum, Kyocera participated in a panel with several key partners who are collaborating to bring the mission-critical LTE ecosystem together. We spoke about Kyocera rugged mobile devices and how they are built to survive harsh environments, drops, water spills and hazardous conditions, all with a lower total cost of ownership. Kyocera phones deliver the features needed for critical communications, from security, to 810G and IP68 certification for protection against dust, water, shock, vibration, extreme temperatures and more, to dedicated PTT buttons, long-lasting batteries and dual front-facing speakers for noisy conditions.

Our partners and co-panelists who are helping to navigate the shift to mission-critical LTE and build solutions that serve multiple verticals, from public safety, to transportation, logistics, utilities and hospitality, included:

  • ESChat: Josh Lober, President and CEO, ESChat
    ESChat (Enterprise Secure Chat) is dedicated to providing solutions for secure PTT voice, group text messaging and live location tracking & mapping. With a focus on the interoperability between communication technologies, ESChat is enabling a more seamless and secure LMR to LTE transition. The ESChat secure communication platform is compliant to the 3GPP’s mission-critical push-to-talk (MCPTT) standards and ensures interoperability between MCPTT vendors on various mobile devices.
  • Blueforce Development: Michael Helfrich, Founder and CEO Blueforce Development Corporation.
    Blueforce Development specializes in providing products and services that enhance safety, increase operational efficiency and enable better decisions, particularly in the defense, law-enforcement and security industries. By transmitting vital, actionable information in real time, Blueforce helps ground teams in making split-second decisions. Mission-critical LTE helps overcome challenges like low visibility and information fidelity, especially when it comes to visuals, and is an important part of the solution in transmitting data quickly, reliably and securely.
  • Visual Labs: Alex Popof, Founder and CEO, Visual Labs, Inc.
    Visual Labs, which calls itself the “the body camera company that doesn’t make body cameras,” specializes in live streaming with body cameras. Solving connectivity limitations faced by traditional body camera solutions, Visual Labs utilizes mission-critical LTE to provide real-time situational awareness via live video feeds, significantly enhancing officer safety in crisis situations.

As key vertical industries, including government, military, municipalities, public safety, school districts and more, look to make the transition to mission-critical LTE, the ecosystem is coming together to support the evolution in the most seamless, secure and reliable way possible. From carrier support to handset manufacturers’ new features and capabilities to solutions providers, critical communications are being upgraded in a major way with real-time location, video, group chat and multimedia applications, as well as rugged, built-to-survive mobile devices.

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.