Keeping tabs on your agency’s evidence can be time-consuming and a monumental task if performed with pen and paper. At all levels of government, evidence management is not just about productivity-it’s about protecting lives and upholding justice. Any tracking solution must provide a reliable, secure and dynamic mobile logistics environment with superior uptime to enable real-time access to data wherever it is needed. Accuracy and visibility are essential for an effective tracking solution.
Using the combination of mobile computers and asset management software, you can speed up your audit tasks and conduct your evidence tracking in real-time. Track evidence, serial numbers and locations while maximizing workforce productivity and eliminating manual errors. Become more efficient and reduce downtime while putting valuable evidence firmly under your control.
What are the Key Benefits of an Evidence Tracking System?
The right tracking solution in place will maximize your evidence control efficiency and minimize your loss with the benefits of:
Productivity – Collect data faster and in greater detail.
Accuracy – Eliminate human error.
Compliance – Maintain accurate records with extensive reporting flexibility.
Accountability – Enforce personal responsibility and accountability for evidence.
What is Evidence Tracking?
Evidence Tracking solutions are designed for the unobtrusive tracking of your agency’s evidence. Perfect for law enforcement or private enterprise applications requiring the ability to facilitate the Chain of Custody, a well implemented system empowers your officers to identify, document, record and track evidence while at the scene of the crime. All recorded data including the officer’s DSN, case number, time and date, evidence barcode ID and evidence description are uploaded to a database to help protect Chain of Custody from the scene of the crime to the property room and within it.
Too often an officer is stuck behind a desk, hand entering data from the day into backend and reporting systems when they could be out patrolling the streets or following up on other cases or duties. About a quarter of the typical police agency’s cases require some level of evidence tracking, taking officers an average of 2 hours each to input into the backend system or handwrite on reports. A comprehensive tracking solution saves time and drastically reduces errors and duplicate entries.
With the right software and mobile hardware, officers can collect, enter and scan evidence in the field. Using a mobile computer, they are able to enter all their data about a case onsite – case Information, suspects, victims, evidence and remarks. In addition to entering data, they can take pictures, scan barcode labels to tag evidence and print evidence room labels all on-the-go. Everything is stored on the handheld computer and can be submitted in real-time from the field or imported to the backend in a batch upload. If officers need to make changes or updates, they can do it on the mobile computer and simply re-import it or edit it right in the backend. You can also have multiple pictures for each piece of evidence with the option to GPS location stamp them, if needed, for even more accuracy.
Compared to standard asset tracking, evidence tracking requires greater detail, security and a very accurate trail of accountability. When you are dealing with something as sensitive as evidence you can’t afford to make mistakes or errors. Incomplete or improperly documented evidence will not be submersible in court and can determine the success of an investigation. Utilizing an evidence management system that was developed specifically with law enforcement agencies in mind is critical to ensure the effectiveness of all your evidence collecting.
What Should You Address When Making an Evidence Tracking System?
When putting together an effective and suitable evidence tracking system there are a few key questions to answer:
- Do you need real-time updates or can batch collection be used?
- How many items do you need to track?
- What characteristics do you need to record and track for each item?
- Will you need to capture pictures of each item?
- Do you need to produce tracking tags? Will you use barcode or RFID tags?
- What type of reporting will you need from the system?
- How many users will you have? Desktop and mobile.
What are the Components of an Evidence Tracking System?
All evidence tracking systems consist of 3 core components:
- Evidence Tracking Software – Software is the backbone of any system and will determine what features and options are available. The main concerns when deciding are how detailed of reporting is available and whether it supports batch or real-time updates.
- Mobile Computer – Evidence is located anywhere from the field to the evidence room. A mobile device allows you to have all the needed information and make changes wherever the evidence is located. Depending on how rugged your environment is and budget, a wide range of devices can be used.
- Barcode/RFID Printer – All assets need a unique identifier on them to be properly tracked. Barcodes are the easiest and most cost effective option but RFID tags offer added benefits with wireless reading of the assets and the possibility of automating your whole process. Both fixed and mobile printer options are available to print anywhere you need to.