NCS collaboration leads to prize-winning AfterBurner

Digital recording equipment developed by a private company in conjunction with the National Crime Squad has taken second prize in the Equipment and Technology Innovation Awards 2006, jointly organised by the Home Office Scientific Development Branch (HOSDB) and the Association of Police and Public Security Suppliers (APPSS).

May 5, 2006
By David Howell

Digital recording equipment developed by a private company in conjunction with the National Crime Squad has taken second prize in the Equipment and Technology Innovation Awards 2006, jointly organised by the Home Office Scientific Development Branch (HOSDB) and the Association of Police and Public Security Suppliers (APPSS).

The digital recording device called The AfterBurner was developed by Ovation Systems working with the NCS, in response to the need to find technology to support surveillance activity and gather evidence that will stand up to scrutiny in court.

Although digital video recorders are well established, there have always been issues for police forces and other law enforcement agencies over whether they meet evidential procedures. As a result, until recently traditional VCR technology was still being used in evidence gathering, although the sheer volume of tapes used meant that storage was an issue, while the advances in digital technology also prompted law enforcers to review the technology they were using.

The NCS approached a number of companies to develop tailor-made recording equipment to be used in evidence gathering activities. David Phipps, a technical support manage with the NCS National Technical Support Unit said it was important that any technology should be ‘robust evidentially’, easy to use and require minimal training.

He said: “It was also important that any technology was compatible with current and future technologies and also the other equipment used by our organisation.

“At the moment you don’t have to travel far to find a VHS player to review your product so we wanted something that was equally as widely available. We also wanted to minimise financial outlay in supporting requirements to copy, review and manage video and audio products obtained from the device.”

Oxford-based Ovation Systems met the NCS brief and came up with The AfterBurner, the only existing digital recording device that has been developed specifically for police video surveillance operations and that meets the digital imaging guidelines laid down by HOSDB.

The system operates in real-time or time-lapse allowing 24 hours or more of video to be burnt to a single disk that is viewable on any standard DVD player. When deployed, it records to its internal hard disk providing at least 12 days of unattended recording.

Since launching the product under a year ago Ovation Systems have attracted huge interest, and 80 per cent of UK forces are now using it, along with law enforcement agencies in the US and across Europe.

Gordon Moore, the UK Sales Manager for Ovation Systems said the company had been ‘delighted’ at the level of interest The AfterBurner had attracted: “It has totally exceeded our expectations in terms of the level of interest from police and law enforcement agencies worldwide. One of the most significant aspects of the whole project is that we were able to respond to a clearly identified need from the NCS and we hope in our own way we have helped advance the nature of surveillance activity for police forces and law enforcement agencies not just in the UK but worldwide.”

The success of NCS and Ovation Systems in working together on the project was recognised in the inaugural Equipment and Technology Innovation Awards, presented at a ceremony held as part of the HOSDB show and exhibition at RAF Halton in Aylesbury in March.

Mr Moore added: “Both ourselves and the NCS were delighted to be recognised for the innovative way we approached this project. We hope it heralds the start of a new level of co-operation between the police and private companies, which can only seek to raise standards in the future.”

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