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industry focus

Looking forward and future-proofing body worn camera integration

Body worn cameras (BWCs) are probably best known for looking forward, assessing clear and present risks and de-escalating the immediate threat facing key workers, whether they’re frontline emergency personnel or under-pressure retail colleagues.

Key worker occupations are as much in the headlines in 2023 as they were last year. Previously experiencing record levels of violence and aggression levelled against them from an increasingly frustrated public that emerged from COVID, now public behaviour has been further impacted by a cost-of-living crisis where wage levels are failing to keep pace with the rocketing inflation eating into their rapidly diminishing pay packets.

Looking back, a Retail Trust survey of 1,000 store workers in November said two-thirds had experienced both verbal and physical attacks in the last two years resulting in nearly half of workers considering quitting. Conversely, a YouGov poll of 2,000 shoppers found nearly half admitted to getting annoyed with a retail worker and, of these, 81 per cent had lost their temper or became aggressive, blaming most of the frustration on items being out of stock, slow service or not enough staff or checkouts. Two thirds pinned their anger on rising prices. 

In what has rapidly become the winter of discontent, BWCs have earned their place in the toolbox of protections for key workers, proving to be a means of retaining colleagues who may otherwise have walked. But what about the strategic future of BWC?  What else can it achieve to assist struggling retailers?

“The future is all about collaboration – we will direct body worn camera development and innovation to achieve whatever our customers need them to do,” said Matthew Dawes of Reveal Media, one of the market-leading providers of the technology.

“Looking forward to 2023, we are looking at how we better integrate BWC technology with other systems, such as incident reporting for example, because retailers don’t just want to de-escalate problems, they want all their evidential data in one place.”

Matthew said the technology is also moving into the world of artificial intelligence (AI) and future-proofing predictive behaviours.

This, he argues, will present increasing opportunities when retailers begin to embrace technologies such as facial recognition once the data integrity of the system has been legally proven.

“Many retailers are looking to embrace facial recognition and body worn cameras can pay a major part in the identification of persistent offenders who may already be on a store’s watch list,” he said.

Looking forward, Reveal Media is also focussed upon rolling out BWC into community roles, including lone working store delivery teams or courier businesses who may be increasingly vulnerable.

BWC, he argues, will be able to help employers comply with their health and safety obligations and their duty of care to those they carry vicarious liability for.

“A lot of delivery drivers are also on zero-hour contracts and may not be directly employed by the retailer or the courier company, but BWCs will help provide peace of mind through the recording and managing of incidents. AI features such as ‘man down’ notifications can ensure help can be summoned when they are out on their own.

“This is all part of the ‘future-proofing’ of the technology both in the UK and overseas where we are being increasingly asked to provide proof-of-concept trials. Our customers have a global footprint, and we are being asked to match it and position BWC internationally,” he added. 

Whatever the application, front-facing BWCs are always looking ahead at how they can be optimally deployed in an increasingly technological and troubled world where visual and visceral intelligence have become the new international currency.

For more information, contact Reveal Media.

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