Democratizing Forensic Science

The 2016 IACP Conference is over. I’ve spent the last few days processing the events, the conversations, the many questions, and the amazing people that came to Taser’s booth to see an incredible product line from a dynamic and forward thinking company.

In demonstrating the Axon Forensic Suite tools at the booth, I got to thinking how far we’ve come as an industry.

Over a decade and a half ago, I made my first enquiries as to how my agency was going to engage in forensic video/image/audio analysis. I made the calls and received the quotes. Whilst I was thankful that there was equipment and training available, the equipment was expensive, cumbersome, and quite loud. Being from the western US, training was distant.

The entry price point for agencies wanting to get into forensic analysis of audio / video was quite steep. Many skipped it altogether, opting for sending their evidence to other labs at places like the FBI, the Aerospace Corporation, or even Target. These agencies did their best to help, but there’s only so much time in the day for pro-bono work.

A decade and a half ago, there were CDs / DVDs / Zip / Jaz / Floppy Disks / VHS / … There were so many varying types of physical media evidence types to manage. Then there was the problem of sharing our work product. Back to tape? What if they don’t have a DVD player in the computer?

I’ve written before about how far we’ve come, but today I want to focus a bit more on what that means for the small law enforcement agency.

15 years ago, I was running Media Composer in a dedicated, purpose built computer with additional analog capture hardware. I had hardware demultiplexers. I had scopes. Wires were everywhere. The basic set-up was about $30k for one workstation. It was loud given the fans needed to keep this “super computer” cool. It took ages to boot, and even longer to render projects. The work was less than real time in terms of processing footage for court. Demuxing an 8 hour tape and cleaning up the views could take weeks.

Given this model, the small agency was at a disadvantage. My large agency could afford the cost of equipment and training. It could afford to dedicate a few employees to these tasks. A small agency couldn’t afford the start-up costs without a grant. It certainly couldn’t lose the staff to long hours spent rendering effects.

Fast forward to today.

Axon Five is a fraction of the price of my original set-up. It runs on regular computers. It has ten times more functionality vs. the original Media Composer tool set. This gives the small agency an opportunity to bring forensic science in-house. This democratizes forensic science in a way that no tool set has done.

You see, the old work flow wasn’t based in science – it was firmly rooted in demonstrative, artistic tools. If there were questions about what you were doing, you’d tell a story around your work (you still have to if you’re using these tools). Axon Five, on the other hand, is rooted in peer-reviewed published science. The built-in reporting feature is second to none. It gives the user the opportunity to go into the court room with confidence, focusing on the process and the evidence and not on an “expert’s” ability to spin what was done to the evidence. It already fulfills Taser CEO, Rick Smith’s goal to reduce police paperwork by 80% in the next 10 years. This is huge. The work is no longer about personalities and story tellers, it’s about the evidence and the science.

The old work flow was not sustainable. What happens to “the expert,” when he/she retires? What happens if he/she isn’t available? The agency’s ability to process this type of evidence ends abruptly. The “expert” creates a bottleneck. The new workflow, empowered by the latest tools from Axon democratize the process by reducing costs, simplifying work flows, and making the technology available to agencies big and small, in larger quantities than ever before possible.

The evidence can be easily and cost-effectively managed and shared via The cost savings of not having to purchase and distribute discs are massive. (When I think about the palettes of discs that were regularly delivered to my lab, and that they are no longer needed…) The cost-effective cloud service model means that you can share evidence with the click of a mouse button, from the comfort of your office. With, there’s none of the lost/damaged disc problems of the past.’s geo-redundancy means there is no single point of failure. Your evidence is secure and easily distributed to all investigators / attorneys. All you need is a computer and an internet connection, Axon’s powerful technology does the rest for you.

When you combine the tools in the Axon Forensic Suite, Axon Convert, Axon Five, and Axon Detect with and it’s powerful features, you get a complete capture to courtroom product line. Again, all this functionality at a low price means that more agencies can now afford to use these state of the art technologies. From the training standpoint, you can train with us on our office or we can come to your agency – whichever works best for you. That’s simply amazing.

To find out more about this amazing product line, or to request a quote, contact us today.

The Axon Forensic Suite is powered by Amped Software technologies.

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