LAS VEGAS--Surveillance video can be a powerful tool for law-enforcement and security officials conducting investigations, but only if the right video clip can be found—a problem Harris eventually hopes to solve for public safety with its digital asset management capability unveiled at IWCE last week.

As the cost of digital equipment, broadband networks and hard-drive space continue to decrease, gathering video evidence increasingly is within the budget of public-safety entities. However, finding the precise clips needed to make a case or secure a conviction has proven to be more challenging.

“If [the video is] just a file on a hard drive, then it’s no better than a stack of VHF tapes—you have no idea what you have,” said Steve Paulson, Harris’ business development manager for infrastructure and networking solutions. “It’s just a hard drive full of junk unless you know how to search it.

“Finding [hard-drive] space is the easy part. The hard part is not making someone at headquarters have to sit and watch all this video to index it.”

With the Harris solution, video can be stamped automatically with the time, date and location and placed in a searchable database, said Harn Soper, Harris’ senior product manager for automation and digital asset management solutions-software systems. In addition, key-word comments can be attached to the video to help with searches. Even if armed with only a picture of a suspect, law-enforcement personnel can use optional pixel-recognition technology to find all videos where the suspect appears, he said.

Perhaps most important, the digital asset management capability includes digital watermarking—a technology originated for video surveillance used in the gaming industry—of video to ensure that the images have not been tampered with, making them much more beneficial to a prosecutor in court., Soper said.

“It doesn’t make any difference if you can find it and can’t prove in court that it’s not been tampered with,” he said.