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SWGIT Considerations for Managers

SWGIT Considerations for Managers

April 2002 - Volume 4 - Number 2

Standards and Guidelines

Considerations for Managers

Scientific Working Group on Imaging Technologies (SWGIT)
Version 1.2, December 6, 2001

Message from the Chair

 Needs Assessment | Cost Analysis | Image Resolution | Image Storage | Image Compression | Equipment Evaluation | 7: Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) Training | Recurring Costs | Legal Considerations

This document provides managers with considerations generated by SWGIT members. The migration to new imaging technology may significantly affect current work processes and should be done only after examining current operating procedures and completing a needs assessment. This should involve the participation of the organization’s imaging and/or subject matter experts. Examining current operating procedures is the crucial first step in implementing new imaging technology.

Consideration 1: Needs Assessment1

  • Prior to selecting digital imaging technology, current practices must be examined to determine if there is a need to replace or enhance existing technology.
  • Consideration should be given to a hybrid imaging system where some or all of the current equipment is used in conjunction with a new technology.

Consideration 2: Cost Analysis

  • Prior to selecting a digital imaging system, a cost-benefit analysis must be conducted to determine the cost justification of a system purchase and to determine the possible advantages and disadvantages to the agency with its implementation.
  • This analysis would allow a financial comparison between the current and proposed imaging systems to make a procurement decision.
  • To determine a cost estimate, the following components should be considered: system hardware, software, and maintenance; application software; communications hardware and software; training; project management; facilities upgrades and site preparation; and staffing and miscellaneous costs.
  • A typical cost justification includes the following major areas: a study of current operations, proposed system architecture, equipment pricing, and financial indicators, including a payback period.

Consideration 3: Image Resolution1

  • When determining resolution requirements, the intended usage, data storage requirements, and the need for accurate reproduction of the image must be considered.

Consideration 4: Image Storage2

  • Original images must be preserved on separable media.
  • The selection of a storage media may depend on budget considerations for the agency. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Consideration 5: Image Compression

  • Compression affects image quality and should be considered carefully.
  • Lossy compression, such as JPEG, can result in the loss of critical details. The use of this type of compression may render an image unsuitable for forensic analysis.

Consideration 6: Equipment Evaluation

  • Information used to evaluate suitability of new imaging technology should include feedback from agencies currently using the equipment in similar applications, product reviews, and vendor specification sheets.
  • Prior to making a final selection, require a demonstration of new imaging technologies using representative samples of casework.
  • Do not rely solely upon prepackaged demonstrations.

Consideration 7: Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)

  • SOPs must be developed to ensure consistency, quality, integrity, and repeatability of the process.
  • A staff member should be responsible for the overall project management, system administration, and maintenance of the SOPs.
  • It is the responsibility of a staff member, rather than vendors and manufacturers, to maintain written documentation of system procedures and SOPs, including access and security policies and procedures.

Consideration 8: Training3

  • Initial and continuing training in imaging technology is required.

Consideration 9: Recurring Costs

  • Administrative managers should be aware of the cost of maintaining and upgrading imaging systems. Unless these costs are factored into the budget, the system is in danger of becoming obsolete. Some agencies annually budget approximately 15 percent of the original system acquisition cost for upgrades, training, and maintenance.

Consideration 10: Legal Considerations

  • SOPs should be designed to protect the integrity of the images.
  • The user should be familiar with how the rules of evidence apply.

Guidelines for Field Applications of Imaging Technologies
2See SWGIT Definitions and Guidelines for the Use of Imaging Technologies in the Criminal Justice System
3See SWGIT Guidelines and Recommendations for Training in Imaging Technologies in the Criminal Justice System