WatchGuard bridges in-car and body-worn cameras systems with new VISTA HD
The new device was designed by WatchGuard engineers, with several “big picture” issues at the forefront of their minds — and the result is impressive
One of the hottest areas in all of policing — in terms of products is the on-officer / body-worn video cameras. Only a few years ago, there were but a handful of companies offering cameras small enough, light enough, and rugged enough to be attached to an officer’s uniform for recording officer-citizen contacts. Now there are a number of players in the space, and a new offering from WatchGuard Video — a longtime leader in in-car video systems — is getting the attention of agencies across the country.
Announced in late 2014, the VISTA HD Wearable Camera is built in the USA and is constructed with cast magnesium, polyurethane rubber, and a military-grade Polyetherimide resin. Compact, rugged, and at once user-friendly and feature-rich, the new body-worn solution has several characteristics which are sure to pique the interest of agencies looking at the current landscape of products available to them.
WatchGuard had previously offered a device called CopVu, which was sold as part of an OEM-agreement with VIEVU. The new device was designed by WatchGuard engineers, with several “big picture” issues at the forefront of their minds — and the result is impressive.
“This was in our minds for a couple of years. We had an engineering effort into the product, and like everything else WatchGuard does, this is a true ground-up development,” said Jason Stuczynski, Vice President of Sales for WatchGuard.
“We developed VISTA HD based on the landscape of where the on-body cameras had left agencies asking the same questions. The product was born out ideas from working with agencies — especially agencies who use our in-car camera system — who are asking for a high level of integration and seamless interoperability of systems,” Stuczynski added.
WatchGuard has integrated VISTA with their 4RE in-car video system and proprietary Evidence Library platform to provide a level of integration in evidence search and management that few companies can presently offer. Essentially, with the WatchGuard system, if a user is looking for an in-car video recording from an incident, and that officer was also wearing a VISTA HD camera, both videos will be returned in the search results.
The importance of this capability cannot be understated. Categorization is critical to data management, and if you get the management piece wrong, you may be creating some pretty serious problems down the road.
“With the way an agency would deploy wearables or body-worns, you have the potential of having five times the evidence management nightmare in that little wearable camera as you do with an in-car unit. If you get back to categorization, we’ve got one of the only devices — it may be the only one — that you can actually categorize on the device very easily. You don’t need a tethered telephone or a Bluetooth device or anything like that.”
Simple, Clean, and Kind of ‘Old School’
From the back office, the agency can create categories such that when the officer stops the recording after an incident is done, they can toggle through the different categories on the LCD panel atop the camera. The user interface will surely draw a smile on the face of the user — it is a clean, monochrome, no-frills display, and as a consequence, it gets the job done easily, with all of what you need, and none of what you don’t.
Stuczynski explained, “Cameras up to now largely relied on a cryptic set of blinking LEDs to give the officer an indication of things like how much battery life you’ve got and how much storage you have left. We thought, ‘How inconvenient. You should just know instantly what you’ve got. That’s why we’ve got that LCD — to make it really simple to understand.”
You know with a glance at the LCD that you’re recording, whereas some systems have no visible indicator at all for the officer. This can lead to issues where an officer may have thought they hit ‘record’ only to find out after the fact that the device did not actually activate. This then causes a series of questions nobody wants to answer, beginning with accusations that the cop purposefully didn’t record something.
Mounting Solution Addresses “Can’t See the Action” Questions
Speaking of questions, one that is sure to be asked many times in the future will go along the lines of the following:
“We can see everything that happens right up until the officer draws his/her gun. They all we see is the screen filled with the officer’s forearms, wrists, and the butt of the gun.”
This is because many mounting solutions place the camera on the body basically in the solar-plexus area, such that presentation of the firearm all but blocks everything else previously in view. With the WatchGuard VISTA HD mounting system — which utilizes a combination of magnets and pins — the user can place the camera up near the collarbone, which for most people will keep the field of view above the sights.
“The camera lens has a rotatable turret,” Stuczynski explained, “partly because if you have it mounted at your breast plate you might want it shooting straight ahead. If you’ve got it mounted at your collarbone you might need to aim that turret down a little bit. We think this is just another improvement over the wearables that are out there.”
Product Specs, Features, and Pricing
Pre-orders have already shown that when it hits the streets in early Spring 2015, the device will likely become quickly and widely adopted. The pricing, Stuczynski said, can depend on a variety of factors, including whether or not the new VISTA HD is being added to a current WatchGuard in-car system.
Here are some of the features to keep in mind as you consider the system:
• Ultra-rugged, fully-submersible waterproof design
• Transfer/charging base provides “Dock & Go” convenience
• 9 hours of continuous HD recording on a single charge
• Integrates with ‘Evidence Library’ and 4RE in-car systems
• Easy to use and understand
• Record-After-The-Fact Provides the Ultimate Safety Net
• Exceptional Quick-Release Mounting Hardware
For further information, you can learn more at www.watchguardvideo.com/vista.