Panasonic Enters the Body Camera Fray
PC Magazine|January 2016
Sascha Segan

I’d rather be shot with a Panasonic than a Taser. Wouldn’t you? Driven by recent high-profile police shootings, body cameras are spreading across U.S. police departments. About a third of the 18,000 police forces in the U.S now use body cams, according to a report from B2B seller Insight that was commissioned by the cross-governmental U.S. Communities organization, and President Obama has requested funding for 50,000 more cameras.

Panasonic’s brand-new Arbitrator BWC, released on December 1, is a big name stepping into a market dominated by two other firms, VieVu and Taser. Panasonic says that its advantage comes from being an actual maker of cameras and in having an end-to-end system for data management and storage, which Panasonic has been working on for the past decade with its police dashboard camera systems.

The police body cameras aren’t just ruggedized GoPros. Although they record optically stabilized 720p video just like a GoPro, the difference really comes in how the footage is handled once it’s recorded, said Panasonic video solutions specialist John Cusick. Videos are encrypted in the camera, and every time they’re transferred to another device, they’re revalidated. Once they’re transferred from the camera— either wirelessly, or by dropping them into a charging cradle—they can only be viewed in special software that logs every view and edit action, keeping previous versions intact.

“We’re very cognizant of that chain of custody, that integrity,” Cusick said. “If it ever gets to court, if it gets challenged, we’ve done the job of documenting at the bit level the security of the file.”

Panasonic also sells a complete system including both body cameras and the more common dash cameras, with footage that can be stored in the same Microsoft Azure–powered government cloud and viewed with the same Windows software.

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