COVID-19 Fallout Spurs Body Camera Use in Non-Traditional Markets, Introducing New Opportunities and Privacy Concerns

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By Elizabeth Stokes | 1Q 2023 | IN-6815

Once known as tools reserved for law enforcement, Body-Worn Cameras (BWCs) have become accessories for both healthcare organizations and commercial businesses. Due to improved connectivity technology, these devices have become useful for different industries to limit corporate liability and extend company surveillance.

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From the Frontline to the Front Door


Reports of uncivil and aggressive behavior in daily life spiked during the COVID-19 pandemic. Videos of customer tirades in stores and airplanes went viral, and frontline workers publicly expressed concern about their safety. In response, businesses and organizations like the U.K. grocery chain Sainsbury’s and the National Health Service (NHS) invested in Body-Worn Cameras (BWCs) to protect workers and de-escalate increasingly common violent incidents.

Increasing incivility is still a concern, but commercial businesses are now finding BWCs are a great tool to not only keep their workers safe, but to also limit corporate liability. Walmart’s InHome delivery service, which announced in early January that it will be expanding its services across the country, equips all delivery personnel with proprietary body cameras so they can record themselves as they enter a customer’s home to deliver groceries. Customers can view the footage through a live stream or days later, so customers feel less vulnerable during the delivery and workers are protected from false complaints.

Greater Camera Connectivity Means More Functions


Home inspection companies, technician services, and manufacturers are all seeing the benefit of BWCs. New connectivity technology has allowed these devices to extend to different verticals and has improved their function for law enforcement. The most advanced body cameras on the market have cellular and wireless capabilities, resulting in features like live streaming and multiple device integration. Motorola’s most advanced body camera, the V300, can connect via Bluetooth to a Motorola-made radio, which can trigger the body camera to automatically turn on under different circumstances. The body camera can also use a Long Term Evolution (LTE) connection to upload footage from the field and, when connected to Wi-Fi, can live stream an incident to a dispatcher, allowing headquarters to determine in real time if more backup is needed.

The body camera used for Walmart’s InHome delivery service is similarly connected. When a delivery person is at a customer’s door, the customer receives a notification on their smartphone, and, if the customer is using a smart lock, the delivery person is given an entry code that allows one-time access.

These connectivity capabilities make real-time surveillance possible in areas where fixed surveillance cameras cannot typically reach. If an employee’s day is spent traveling or working in remote areas—whether that be a police officer in the field or a lone worker on a construction site—live streaming BWCs allow for dynamic monitoring. Using these devices, commercial businesses can access remote situations and, like the dispatcher viewing an officer’s live stream, corporate headquarters can receive real-time insight into places that were once unseeable.

Privacy and Cost Remain a Concern with Body-Worn Cameras


The challenges of the BWC industry mirror those of the larger surveillance camera market. Privacy concerns remain at the heart of body camera use, especially when these devices are used for commercial purposes. Filming workers on the job and those they interact with, even for innocuous liability purposes, has the potential to alienate both employees and customers. Similarly, if BWCs follow the trajectory of surveillance cameras and eventually feature built-in AI capabilities like facial recognition and biometrics detection, law enforcement agencies and healthcare organizations can expect greater concern from the public about their use. Data storage, too, could become an issue for businesses hoping to invest in BWCs, just as it already has become a cost concern for police departments across the United States. Storing large amounts of footage is expensive, so companies should ensure that any potential use case for BWCs is worth the investment. And if these BWCs are filming in sensitive areas—like in people’s homes, as in Walmart’s case—the proper protection of that stored footage is paramount. Concerns about privacy and high costs could inhibit the widespread adoption of BWCs for now, but more commercial businesses could be enticed, as these devices continue to become smarter and more portable.



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