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Pinnacle DEMS Case Study

Case Study

A Digital Evidence Management System built for one of the world's leading body worn camera companies


Challenge

Pinnacle Response design and manufacture body worn cameras into the security industry. They are a great company with a fantastic range of world-beating cameras, but unfortunately their old DEMS software - developed and owned by a 3rd party - had a number of shortcomings that meant the software didn’t quite meet the demands of the evidence industry:

  • Redaction: Privacy and security is at the core of Pinnacle’s business, so being able to redact people and objects from videos should have been an easy task
  • Reporting: It was difficult for Pinnacle to know exactly what was going on in their previous solution. Who was using what parts of the system and were customers getting the most out of it
  • Responsiveness: Customers today expect a modern, responsive web experience. Their existing software felt old, clunky and far from intuitive
  • Support: Pinnacle’s support team were overloaded with support tickets, most of which could be solved by implementing better user and account management
  • Cloud & On-Premise: The new system had to support on-prem installs for Windows, macOS and Linux, but also maximise the flexibility and scalability of AWS

Pinnacle

Approach

This was a highly collaborative project, with the customer taking point on product ownership, and Instil handling all other aspects of the delivery, including project management, user interface design, and the actual development of the software.

A key challenge was the project had to be delivered for a notional fixed price, which meant that careful attention had to be given to creating a process that enabled iteration, product feedback and incremental improvements whilst still ensuring the software was delivered within budget.

The delivery had to feel like and have all the trappings of an agile project (sprints, planning, retrospectives, etc) but at the same time had to work within the constraints of a fixed price, something the team managed to pull off.

From an architectural point of view, the DEMS platform was broken into 3 parts:

  • A backend API, deployable in AWS/ECS and customer hardware, built using Kotlin and Spring Boot
  • A web application built using TypeScript and Angular
  • A TornadoFX and Kotlin desktop application used to upload videos from the body worn cameras to the DEMS system

Outcomes

Pinnacle are delighted with their new software. They now have a best in class DEMS platform that works seemlessly with their body worn cameras to make capturing, editing, searching and managing of evidential videos a breeze. At the time of this writing (Feb 2021, ~6 months after release), the cloud version of the product has successfully transcoded and stored over 70TB of video data in production.

“All key deliverables were met on time, often exceeding expectations. Communication was excellent. Professional consistency made for a very calm and enjoyable experience for us. At no stage did we have any doubt on the complete success of this rather extensive development project.”

Colin Stanford - CEO, Pinnacle

As well as addressing all of the issues with their old platform, the new software offers the following features:

  • Videos can be redacted, trimmed down into shorter clips and individual frames captured as images, all whilst retaining the original encrypted master file to ensure absolute integrity
  • Reporting for individual customers and at a system level for Pinnacle staff.
  • A self-service approach for user and account management, freeing up Pinnacle staff to focus on developing their hardware products.
  • Autoscaling of video transcoders to ensure that videos are available for all users as quickly as possible.
  • Headless uploader, running on Raspberry Pi which detects cameras via WiFi and uploads videos to DEMS for processing.
  • Fully searchable reporting on user access, views, editing and sharing activity. Complete system accountability from camera to court.

The full product specification can be found on Pinnacle’s website.

Technologies Used

Cloud, AWS, Kotlin, Angular, Spring Boot

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