Technology allows 999 callers to share video stream of incident via smartphone

A police force says it is the first in the country to introduce technology that allows 999 callers to share a live video stream of an incident with call handlers on their smartphone.

Cambridgeshire Police said the move allows officers to get information from a scene faster than ever before and share it with other emergency services, helping to save time.

The force said that the technology could find alternative uses during the coronavirus outbreak, such as allowing officers to take statements remotely.

The technology, called GoodSAM, enables police to send a one-time text message link to individuals calling 999, allowing the caller to open up the camera on their smartphone and present their situation back to the call handlers and officers.

The caller does not need to install any application or special software on their phone in order to do this, the force said, adding that GoodSAM has been successfully trialled.

It has been introduced to deliver benefits to policing across the board, as well as creating some really exciting evidence gathering opportunities.

Footage is recorded on the platform, securing it for evidence.

The technology has already been used in distressing situations such as life-threatening road traffic collisions, when the caller is disorientated, unsure of their location and unable to explain the situation, police said.

In these types of incidents, the platform enables call handlers to assess the scene and helps them determine the right resources to send.

Inspector Chris Hutton, from the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Digital Innovation Team, said: “I believe we are the first police force in the country to use live video streaming technology in this way.

“It has been introduced to deliver benefits to policing across the board, as well as creating some really exciting evidence gathering opportunities.

“The ability for officers and members of the public to live stream has saved time and resources in a variety of scenarios, whether the officer is streaming to a vehicle recovery agent to ensure they send the correct vehicle to a scene, or streaming video from a burglary to scenes of crime officers to discuss forensic evidence.

“We have worked with GoodSAM for several months to develop a platform that is fit for use within our force, and its capabilities will now be explored and exploited further during the Covid-19 outbreak.

“The technology helps to improve efficiency and ensures we are making the best use of the resources available to us.

“There is also potential for GoodSAM to be used to take statements in light of the outbreak, meaning officers could offer video consultations to victims and take statements if they are self-isolating.”

The force has reported GoodSAM has also worked well in obtaining key information and evidence in disorder and violent incidents, as call handlers are able to identify offenders and victims on scene before officers arrive and log accurate descriptions.

Live video from the scene also provides key evidence that can be used during criminal investigations, meaning more offenders can be bought to justice, police said.