Automatically Redact Faces, License Plates, and Computer Screens in Videos

Automatically Redact Faces, License Plates, and Computer Screens in Videos

 

The content of a video evidence plays a vital role in all stages of a criminal justice process. When carefully examined, it serves as a means to prove or disprove criminal allegations against a suspect.

A lot of times, public security agencies and law enforcement get their videos either from body worn cameras or vehicle’s in-car cameras, as the case may be. These video footages can serve as credible evidence while investigating criminal activities. They are instrumental whenever there's a need to review, analyse, or review police actions and behaviours during active service.

BWC videos can also help train recruits on how to act or react whenever they find themselves in dicey or precarious situations. That is why many security agencies are adopting body worn cameras to enhance openness and transparency in their operations.

BWCs come with a lot of benefits, not only to public security personnel, but also to private investigators, journalists, and news reporters covering war zones. They have also sparked a lot of controversy, mostly among fundamental human right activists and law enforcement agencies. These controversies necessitate the thoughtful regulation of police operations in a bid to maintain transparency and citizens' right to privacy. And that is where AI technology comes in!

In this article, we will expound on the usefulness and benefits of Artificial Intelligence in the automatic redaction of all Personally Identifiable Information (PII) in video footage.

 

How Does AI Technology Work in Video Redaction

Usually, it takes a good understanding of video editing software to complete a video redaction process. And achieving this may require setting up a unit that will manually handle every redaction process or training all police personnel on how to use video redaction software.

Scanning through lengthy video footage to detect and conceal the information of innocent citizens is usually very painstaking and labor intensive. It may also leave room for human error resulting from fatigue and affect the accuracy of the entire process.

But with the introduction of Artificial Intelligence technology in video redaction, it is now possible to establish a regular pattern analysis to detect human faces and redacted them when needed. AI-enabled video redaction software will also automatically detect vehicle’s license plates and computer screens, prompting you to mark them for redaction or exclude them.

Thanks to the availability of some competent video redaction software, the police department can make their operations transparent and more efficient, thereby reducing the public pressure on the use of BWCs. It will help redact every legally protected data and information from videos captured by body worn cameras for police vehicle’s in-car camera using algorithms that will deliver precise and accurate results.

 

The Significance of AI Technology in Video Redaction

Over the years, there has been an increasing demand for a redacted version of digital evidence among several state and local government communities. Spearheaded mostly by law enforcement agencies and the District Attorneys, this demand is necessary to conceal every identifiable face and private information that is traceable to the citizen's identity within the video before they are shared publicly.

According to FOIA, every US citizen has the right to request any yet-to-be-released government information and documents whenever they deem fit. As a result, it is mandatory for every federal agency, including law enforcement agencies, to grant any information disclosure request initiated by any citizen under the FOIA law.

However, the law gives room for a total of nine exemptions, where government agencies can decline an information disclosure request. These exemptions include content or information that can jeopardize national security, violate personal privacy, and compromise law enforcement.

At this point, any public security agency looking to grant a FOIA request must thoroughly and painstakingly review any requested information to find out which part falls under the exemptions before they grant the request.

After sorting out the exemptions, the next thing is to redact them all swiftly and efficiently without compromising the legibility of the information. As every law enforcement agency strives to comply with the Federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) alongside some closely-related statutes and decrees within their states, they get caught up in the middle of a rigorous and expensive workflow.

 

Harnessing the Benefits of AI Technology in Overcoming the Challenges of Video Redaction

The past few years saw a tremendous increase in the number of archived videos by several public security agencies. Now, the police department gets tons of videos daily from crime scenes through various means, including surveillance cameras and bystanders' smartphones. And as BWCs continue to gain more popularity and acceptance, the amount will continue to grow exponentially.

However, after several high-profile cases of police officers exhibiting some questionable characters, police officers need to take caution and show restraint while handling video files as it may contain some content that may violate the citizens' privacy when released. As technology continues to evolve, it is just normal that we continue to find newer and better ways to make video redaction simpler, faster, and more efficient.

That is why almost all security agencies are pushing vendors to enhance the precision, accuracy, and efficiency of every video redaction process by harnessing AI technology.

Video evidence is an essential part of every police interrogation. However, the methods and procedures taken while recording or using the video must fully comply with the data privacy law both at the state and federal levels.

Videos are usually taken at the crime scene, and may include the faces of both the suspected criminal and innocent bystanders, license plates, and other relevant information. While video evidence could be very helpful during interrogation proceedings, it could also violate the people’s right to privacy if it includes the PII of innocent citizens.

While redacting video footage, there’s no exception or room for error. Many police dispatch team usually go about with portable computer systems in their vehicle. These systems can show some sensitive data and information on their display screens. For example, a police unit trailing a criminal may collect the PII of innocent citizens via dashcam videos while tracking the activities of the suspected criminal in a specific environment.

At this point, it becomes imperative for the police department to redact their computer screens and conceal the information of innocent bystanders collected during the raid. This, and some other reasons, is why the pin-point accuracy and efficiency of AI-enabled video redaction software are most suitable for any digital redaction process.

 

Creating A Streamlined Workflow to Enhance Transparency and Efficiency in All Police Operations

The truth is, redaction was born out of public demand for the effective management of private information by law enforcement officers. And despite recording a level of success in the area of concealing legally protected content in any file or document, it has had its own share of challenges, criticisms, and controversies as well.

At times, the video redaction process can consume a lot of time and energy, which may eventually take its toll on the officers involved. We have had cases where police departments had to succumb to some of these challenges and pause the implementation of BWCs.

For example, a police department couldn’t meet up with the fast-paced video redaction process required when an anonymous citizen requested for all footage captured from both BWCs and dashcams. This is something that AI technology, alongside top-notch video redaction software, will handle seamlessly and efficiently.

For police agencies, AI technology will enhance the accuracy and precision of a video redaction process while simplifying their workflow. By complementing the function of competent video redaction software, AI technology will not only transform the staffing recommendations of a law enforcement agency but also save them a lot of money.

With AI-powered video redaction software, personally identifiable information like the face of innocent bystanders, license plates, computer screens will be detected and singled out to enable the user to determine whether it should be redacted or not.

AI-powered video redaction software will aid the productivity and performance of the police department and other public security agencies. This will automatically eradicate the manual redaction process while saving time and energy that could be otherwise spent on examining and reviewing several video clips for possible PII.

 

Conclusion

Artificial Intelligence is one of the best innovative discoveries of the past decade. And many agencies, including law enforcement agencies, continue to seek ways to harness the benefits of the new tech and make it align with their core values.

AI technology presents law enforcement agencies with a viable redaction option that will make their job easier, safer, and more transparent.

At a time when accusations and counter-accusations are becoming more rampant between law enforcement agencies and the general public concerning the use of excessive force during confrontations, it becomes imperative for all parties involved to come up with an all-inclusive solution to reinstate public confidence in the police department.

Artificial Intelligence technology provides one of the best ways to make video redaction process simple, smooth, and superfast while making the overall content as credible as it can be. Incorporating AI-based algorithms into video redaction software allows the program to easily detect, track, and redact faces, license plates, computer screens, and other related PII from video footage. The technology remains an important factor in solving complicated crimes and assuring citizens of safety without intruding into their private lives.