How will Wearable Body-Worn Cameras Perform in 2017?

The rapid growth of the wearable camera market has surprised few over the last five years. Consumer wearable camera companies, such as GroPro, have made vast fortunes and become iconic brands for those with outdoorsy, adventurous lifestyles.

The enterprise market for body-worn cameras (BWC) has recorded a similar uptake in demand, primarily driven by trial deployments in law enforcement and soon we will see the market skyrocket as many of the pilot testing schemes turn to full-scale deployments. The fascinating contrast between consumer and enterprise wearable cameras is where the real commercial value lies; for the enterprise market, it’s in the storage of video footage and the digital video management system. On the consumer side, the value lies in the hardware itself. Valour Consultancy projects the global digital video management system market will be worth $1.8 billion by 2020, compared to body-worn camera hardware sales of slightly less than $400 million.

Although the BWC and systems market is becoming financially lucrative, the large number of players in the market is beginning to diminish. Clear strengths and weakness about each vendor are well-known to industry observers, and certain vendors dominate various markets due to their offerings. In the United States and Europe, Taser International is one of the market leaders, last year winning the biggest deployment of BWCs for the London Metropolitan Police. The company has been resourceful to subsidise its devices used for trial uses, and offers a practical end-to-end solution for BWCs and data storage. Nevertheless, this does not mean the company will storm away from the others, as VIEVU recently proved, winning a contract with the NYPD to supply BWCs. The law enforcement market is fragmented and extremely autonomous. Some police departments have been subscribing to camera and video solutions for other applications, like in-vehicle patrol cars. As such, the companies already providing video management solutions for these applications clearly have a “foot in the door”.

With such heavy competition in the market, prices are expected to continue falling and companies will need new differentiators such as live streaming, facial recognition software, or other elements of evidence video management.

There are a host of reasons for the use and incorporation of BWCs in law enforcement. Yet one of the major drivers for police officers using BWCs are accountability and transparency for their actions.

Listed below are some of the key drivers for body-worn cameras and video:

  • Today’s frenzied media and an increasingly perceptive public are quick to criticise and lament the discrimination and perceived wrongs of law enforcement around the world. This could be from treating certain segments of a country’s population unfairly, or advantageously. BWCs can provide a credible unbiased perspective for both law enforcement officers and the public, where recorded interactions can be viewed by a third-party. This should result in a greater level of transparency.
  • The technology can act as a deterrent just as other forms of video surveillance like CCTV does in reducing criminal offences and thus increasing confidence in the local community. Law enforcement officers may also feel more confident as subjects are less likely to be offensive or aggressive whilst being recorded.
  • Body-worn video (BWV) can speed up the justice process. After viewing footage of incidents, defendants are much more likely to change a previous “not guilty” plea, to “guilty” if video evidence is damning.
  • Addressing public complaints against the police, from 2011 to 2016, Indianapolis, Austin, San Jose, and San Francisco, paid a total of $16.6 million in taxpayers’ funds to settle 122 police-misconduct lawsuits. That equates to $136,066 per case. Over a slightly longer time period, the city of Philadelphia has paid $40 million to settle 584 of the 1,223 police-misconduct lawsuits lodged since January 2009. If BWCs and video can reduce the number of false police-misconduct cases, even if it is only a small margin of the total, purchasing such technology is worthwhile.
  • Along with digitalisation of police tools, the methods used to record crimes are becoming a prominent matter. BWV will be a tool used to ensure the accuracy and credibility of such crime recordings.
  • The wide proliferation of smartphones has impacted the world in a number of positive ways. Cameras incorporated in every smartphone sold today have enabled users to take pictures at a moment’s notice. This also entails a number videos of potential police mistreatments of the public, some of which are, at the very least, embarrassing for the law enforcement officers involved. BWV enables police officers to provide a third-party independent unbiased account of their actions to counterbalance these difficult situations.

Key Takeaways

  • More than 3.3 million BWCs will be deployed by 2017, and annual shipments will exceed 1.2 million units.
  • The European market will become the biggest market in revenues terms this year, overtaking North America.
  • The demand for high-end recording BWCs and devices with connectivity capabilities will also increase substantially. As in IoT industry, users will want live or near real-time access to video footage for analysis.

For more information about Valour Consultancy’s report on the enterprise BWC market, please click here.