Yakima, Wash., Police Dept. taps IBM for digital video system

IBM Corp. has won a contract to provide a digital video system for the police department in Yakima, Wash., the company announced May 15.

Under the $540,000 contract, IBM Corp. of Armonk, N.Y., will install the system in each of the Yakima Police Department's 32 cruisers. The system will collect data from digital video cameras mounted in the cars as well as from audio microphones worn by the police officers.

The data will be fed to removable, rugged computer hard drives in the passenger compartments. At the end of a shift, the officer will remove the hard drive, bring it into police headquarters and upload recorded evidence into a central data repository capable of storing 3.5 terabytes of data.

Digital video systems are more flexible and effective than traditional police-car video systems that are based on analog, or videotape, technology, according to IBM. Because analog must be activated manually, police often fail to capture images of crimes in progress.

In contrast, IBM's in-car digital video system continuously records images and sound onto a 60 gigabyte hard drive. When the officer turns on the overhead pursuit lights, the previous four minutes of video and audio are saved and recording continues until the officer turns off the system.

In the future, the Yakima Police Department plans to integrate the video solution with its records management system, which contains police reports and case information.

IBM said it has pilot projects for its digital video system with seven other jurisdictions, including the Texas Department of Public Safety, San Marcos, Calif., and Seattle.

IBM, a provider of information technology services and consulting, has about 180,000 employees and had more than $36 billion in annual sales in 2002.

(Updated 2:49 p.m. May 15, 2003)

About the Author

William Welsh is a freelance writer covering IT and defense technology.

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