digital Evidence Management
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Every year, law enforcement agencies face the daunting task of handling an ever-growing volume of digital evidence. With the widespread adoption of affordable digital Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) systems, alongside the increasing use of digital tools like crime scene photos, recorded interviews, and citizen-provided evidence, officers and detectives find themselves grappling with a flood of data.

Compounding this challenge, many police agencies have integrated in-car and body-worn camera (BWC) systems, necessitating the storage and management of high-resolution videos even for routine police incidents.

The CCTV market has reached a tipping point, with surveillance systems becoming not only cost-effective but also capable of capturing superior quality footage and boasting easy installation and setup processes. 

Cloud-based platforms like Blink, Arlo, and Ring have further democratized access, allowing almost anyone with a wireless internet connection to install them within minutes without requiring significant technical expertise. Consequently, there has been a proliferation of CCTV cameras in neighborhoods across the United States.

Digital Evidence Management
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Ignoring this avalanche of digital evidence is not an option for law enforcement agencies. It is imperative for police administrators to ensure that officers receive fundamental training in handling digital evidence, particularly in the retrieval and review of surveillance footage. 

Moreover, agencies must establish robust systems for the collection, storage, and management of digital evidence, adhering to best practices and legal frameworks within their jurisdiction. A Digital Evidence Management System (DEMS) serves as the central command hub for organizing and overseeing all the digital evidence collected by a police department.

1. On-Prem and SaaS Cloud options

A DEMS should offer deployment options, such as on-premises or via SaaS, to mitigate risks like system crashes or file corruption. Maintaining copies in diverse locations (on-premises and cloud) ensures data availability. 

There is a significant risk of storing just one copy of any file. If the storage system crashes or specific files become corrupt, it may be necessary to utilize backup copies. Therefore, it is best practice to have at least two copies stored in different geographic locations and storage systems. 

For example, digital evidence could be stored locally (on-premises) with a backup in the cloud. Storage redundancy ensures backup copies of digital evidence always exist. This flexibility enables cost optimization and faster access to recent case evidence.

DigitalOnQ offers flexible deployment options, including on-premises (installed on a NAS or local server) or Software as a Service (SaaS) utilizing Azure for US Government secure cloud storage. DigitalOnQ meets CJIS and FedRAMP’s strict requirements for security and access control.

2. Secure and Compliant 

Access to digital evidence is designated within the DEMS at individual and group levels. Personnel are granted or denied access to specific case types based on their role in the police department. For example, patrol officers may be given general access to digital evidence in the system, but excluded from accessing sensitive special assault evidence, while detectives investigating special assault cases would be granted full access. Individual and group-level access privileges are configured by the agency and can be updated or modified at any time.

Digital Evidence Management
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A DEMS can store digital evidence locally (on-premise), in the cloud, or both. Evidence storage must comply with FBI Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) security policy, and agencies must also follow local regulations.

DigitalOnQ includes granular user and group-level permissions and follows best practices for handling and storing digital evidence.

3. Scalability

Scalability in digital evidence management software (DEMS) is paramount for law enforcement agencies and organizations tasked with handling vast amounts of digital evidence. The ability of a DEMS to scale seamlessly ensures that agencies can adapt to evolving data volumes and user demands without sacrificing performance or incurring excessive costs.

One significant advantage of scalable DEMS is its flexibility. Agencies can expand storage capacity and user access incrementally as needed, accommodating fluctuations in data volume and user requirements over time. This flexibility enables agencies to optimize resource utilization and avoid over-provisioning, thereby maximizing cost efficiency.

Furthermore, scalable DEMS solutions provide improved performance, ensuring that users can efficiently access and manage digital evidence without experiencing slowdowns or system bottlenecks, even during peak usage periods or as data volumes grow. This capability not only enhances operational efficiency but also contributes to effective collaboration among multiple stakeholders, facilitating seamless sharing and access to digital evidence across departments, agencies, and jurisdictions. Ultimately, scalability in DEMS ensures that agencies can effectively manage and leverage the growing volume of digital evidence in today’s digital age while also future-proofing their infrastructure for continued growth and technological advancements.

DigitalOnQ can be configured to store digital evidence on virtually any secure storage container, including a NAS, on-premises server, or offsite utilizing Azure for US Government encrypted cloud storage. 

4. Integrations

The DEMS you choose should be flexible and integrate with a wide variety of storage types. For example, a small police department may elect to store their evidence internally on a Synology NAS while larger departments may opt to utilize more expensive hybrid on-premise/cloud solutions.

Digital Evidence Management
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Also, Body Worn Camera (BWC) systems are not DEMS solutions. As police departments adopt BWCs, it’s becoming increasingly important for BWC and DEMS solutions to work together. Integration between systems allows investigators to bring together all digital evidence associated with a case for review.  

For example, while investigating a homicide, an agency may have 10 or more BWC videos from patrol officers who assisted or were on the scene. There may also be digital photographs, surveillance video from multiple locations near the incident, audio and video recorded interviews, as well as other digital evidence. A flexible DEMS can handle all this digital evidence in one place. By using a centrally managed, non-proprietary DEMS, agencies can avoid having system silos or redundant solutions.

Are your officers forced to work between multiple evidence systems? DigitalOnQ is designed to be the digital evidence management system of record and a single source of truth. We’ve partnered with Axon, Motorola, and other companies to integrate with DigitalOnQ. Bringing together critical digital evidence systems via seamless integration eliminates the need for officers to log into multiple systems and ensures all case evidence is shared with prosecutors and other stakeholders. 

5. Desktop Application, Web, and Mobile App Flexibility

Many digital evidence management system (DEMS) solutions often limit themselves to providing web access for managing digital evidence, which can restrict functionality. A comprehensive DEMS solution, however, goes beyond mere web access and incorporates a feature-rich desktop application alongside web and mobile applications.

The desktop application caters to the needs of police administrators and detectives, offering advanced features for managing digital evidence effectively. Meanwhile, patrol officers can leverage the convenience of the mobile application to upload digital evidence directly during their shifts. This empowers them to swiftly capture digital photos from the scene or review surveillance footage before engaging with high-risk suspects, enhancing officer awareness and safety in the field while optimizing time management.

Moreover, web access to the DEMS enables authorized users across the network to upload and review digital evidence seamlessly. The absence of the need for specialized software installation on every workstation reduces the burden on the organization’s technology department, saving valuable time and resources that would otherwise be spent on maintaining desktop systems with DEMS applications installed. This streamlined accessibility ensures efficient utilization of the DEMS across the organization, benefiting from its comprehensive functionalities while minimizing administrative overhead.

Officers can access DigitalOnQ via a feature rich desktop application, DigitalOnQ Web, or DigitalOnQ Mobile (supporting Apple iOS and Android). Oftentimes officers encounter fast-moving investigations requiring quick action. With DigitalOnQ Mobile, officers can search for critical case video, persons-of-interest images, and other important digital evidence while in the field.

6. Chain-of-Custody Evidence Tracking

Chain-of-custody evidence tracking in digital evidence management systems (DEMS) mirrors the meticulous procedures applied to physical evidence, ensuring a comprehensive record of digital evidence throughout its lifecycle.

Digital Evidence Management
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A DEMS records every individual who accesses specific files, documenting the date and time of each interaction involving case evidence, whether it’s viewing, downloading, printing, or sharing. A DEMS should incorporate robust reporting tools enabling investigators to swiftly generate chain-of-custody reports that detail every interaction since the digital evidence was input into the system. 

This not only upholds evidence integrity for legal proceedings but also empowers police administrators with insights into any potential unauthorized access or sharing of digital evidence outside the department. Such transparency and accountability mechanisms foster a culture of integrity and responsibility within the department, encouraging adherence to protocol and ethical standards across the board.

DigitalOnQ tracks interactions with every file in the system in real-time including viewing, printing, sharing, downloading, annotating, annotation changes, editing, and reporting. DigitalOnQ’s detailed chain-of-custody tracking system allows administrators and prosecutors to discover how digital evidence is handled. 

7. Original Digital Evidence Never Changes

Defense attorneys oftentimes challenge the integrity of digital evidence introduced in court. It usually starts with a question from the defense, “Detective, how do we know this is the same surveillance video you recovered two years ago, and it hasn’t been altered in some way?” A question like this can be an effective defense strategy for excluding critical evidence during a trial for agencies without a DEMS.

File hashing is used to track evidence integrity. A DEMS produces a hash of every digital file as they’re uploaded. A hash is a unique hexadecimal string created by a widely researched mathematical algorithm. Since hashes are effectively one-of-a-kind, they can be thought of as digital fingerprints. For example, even though two images appear to be the same, if the hashes are different, we know something between the two files has changed. Simply changing a single pixel in one of the images will generate a different hash.

DigitalOnQ applies a SHA-256 hash to every file as they are uploaded. This allows investigators to quickly verify that critical evidence hasn’t changed, and prosecutors prove evidence integrity in court. 

8. Image and Video Enhancement Options

Digital Evidence Management
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In various investigative scenarios, there arises the need to promptly refine images or brief surveillance video clips for public dissemination to aid in suspect identification or location. It is imperative that the chosen digital evidence management system (DEMS) provides an array of tools for image and video enhancement, enabling investigators to isolate individuals or vehicles of interest, incorporate annotations such as arrows, adjust visual attributes like brightness and contrast, append pertinent case details such as case numbers, and integrate other crucial case information seamlessly. Importantly, these enhancements must be applied solely to derivative copies, ensuring that the original evidence remains unaltered and preserved in its original state.


Using DigitalOnQ’s enhance tool, investigators can easily prepare images for media release by cropping a person of interest, rotating, adjusting brightness, adding a case number, and agency patch. DigitalOnQ enhance tools include brightness, contrast, hue, saturation, exposure, opacity, and blur, as well as arrows, shapes, text, and image overlays. DigitalOnQ creates a copy and always preserves the original.

9. Law Enforcement Evidence Sharing

Efficient sharing of digital evidence poses a significant challenge for law enforcement agencies when collaborating with prosecutors, external organizations, and vital stakeholders. This challenge intensifies with the expansion of digital evidence repositories. What once comprised a few megabytes of surveillance footage may now encompass many gigabytes. Traditional methods of sharing, such as copying onto discs or thumb drives, prove time-consuming and insecure. Loose media, prone to misplacement or mishandling, presents risks of unauthorized access.


The sharing process for critical digital evidence demands security, simplicity, and clarity. DEMS should address these needs by enabling investigators to securely share information directly with other law enforcement entities such as labs, law firms, and government officials. The DEMS should also provide password protections and access restrictions, ensuring that case files are available only during specified periods before expiring and being removed from the shared server. 


With DigitalOnQ, officers and investigators can securely share digital evidence with stakeholders in just a few seconds. Shared evidence is accessible for a limited time and can be revoked if necessary. Information about the date, time, and person shared with are tracked. 

10. Citizen Evidence Sharing

Patrol officers encounter a rising tide of digital evidence shared by citizens within their communities, ranging from smartphone images and videos to text messages, voicemail, chats, emails, and social media screenshots. Without integrated Digital Evidence Management Software (DEMS), officers are often reliant on citizens to share evidence via email attachments or must manage the retrieval process themselves. This can be particularly challenging when dealing with less technically savvy individuals, resulting in cumbersome and time-consuming interactions.

Also, utilizing email attachments or cloud services like Dropbox for evidence sharing poses security risks and may compromise evidentiary integrity, especially with potential reductions in file quality during transmission. Recognizing this need, modern DEMS solutions should incorporate citizen-sharing features, streamlining the process for officers. By simply sending a request via text message or email, officers prompt citizens to upload evidence directly to the police department’s evidence server from their smartphones. This efficient workflow not only saves considerable time and frustration for officers but also ensures a comprehensive chain-of-custody record for the evidence, enhancing overall investigative integrity and efficiency.

DigitalOnQ’s Citizen Share is a mobile app allowing investigators to send involved citizens requests for digital evidence in the field. Officers simply enter the case number, sender’s name, contact information, and send the request. Once received, the victim or witness can select digital files on their phone or computer and securely send them back to the officer. 

11. Manages All File Types

Law enforcement officers and detectives routinely encounter a diverse array of file formats, ranging from proprietary to non-proprietary, encompassing digital images, videos, audio files, documents, text messages, and emails. In certain critical scenarios, detectives may also generate proprietary crash data or intricate computer and mobile forensic files stored within complex folder structures. Despite the complexity and diversity of these file formats and structures, it is imperative that all digital evidence pertaining to a case remains accessible to investigators and prosecutors within a unified platform.

Digital Evidence Management
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An adaptable Digital Evidence Management System (DEMS) solution is essential for seamlessly ingesting and managing any file type while preserving the original folder structure. This capability ensures that investigators can navigate through intricate data hierarchies without compromising the integrity of the evidence. By centralizing digital evidence management, such a DEMS empowers investigative teams to efficiently access and analyze the entirety of the case data, facilitating comprehensive investigations and streamlined collaboration with legal counterparts.

Officers and investigators can upload any file type into DigitalOnQ. This includes non-proprietary and proprietary file formats such as digital forensic evidence. Most non-proprietary file formats can be reviewed or played directly within DigitalOnQ.

12. Advanced Search and Grouping

A robust Digital Evidence Management System (DEMS) should offer advanced search and organization features to facilitate efficient retrieval and review of critical files throughout the investigation process. This capability becomes particularly vital in high-stakes, rapidly evolving cases.

Consider a homicide investigation involving suspects evading capture in a vehicle across multiple city blocks with numerous CCTV systems along the escape route. Law enforcement swiftly gathers surveillance footage from over ten locations, anticipating crucial leads. However, not all retrieved video footage proves pertinent to the investigation. Hence, officers and detectives face the imperative to swiftly identify and organize the most pivotal evidence in the case.

A sophisticated DEMS typically encompasses comprehensive search and organizational functionalities, empowering investigators to expediently pinpoint and segregate significant evidence into virtual folders. For instance, detectives can create folders housing surveillance footage from specific locations and separate folders containing still images of suspects and getaway vehicles. This systematic organization of digital evidence into virtual folders streamlines the process for investigators, prosecutors, and collaborating entities, enabling swift access to pivotal assets during the investigation and subsequent review for prosecution.

DigitalOnQ includes a powerful search tool called Query Builder. Query Builder allows officers, detectives, and police admin to build and save commonly used unique searches that can be reused over again. For example, a major crimes supervisor could create a query search for all digital evidence related to felony crimes uploaded in the last week. DigitalOnQ also has advanced sorting and group options to help investigators review 100s or 1000s of files in a case.

13. Comprehensive Review Mode for Investigators

A robust Digital Evidence Management System (DEMS) offers investigators a comprehensive review mode, ensuring efficient examination of uploaded digital evidence encompassing surveillance videos, digital images, audio files, and documents. This feature is pivotal in enabling law enforcement officers to meticulously scrutinize evidence to uncover crucial insights and build strong cases.

Digital Evidence Management
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Innovative DEMS platforms go beyond mere file storage, providing investigators with the ability to review various types of evidence directly within the system. Investigators can seamlessly review non-proprietary file types like documents without the need to download copies externally, enhancing workflow efficiency and data security.


Moreover, the review mode in a DEMS should be user-friendly, with intuitive navigation and robust features that facilitate informed analysis. Investigators should have access to pertinent information about the files being reviewed, including timestamps and user activity logs documenting when and by whom the evidence was accessed, downloaded, printed, or shared. This functionality serves as a crucial audit trail for maintaining chain-of-custody integrity, ensuring evidentiary accountability throughout the investigation process.


By offering a comprehensive review mode, DEMS not only streamlines the investigative process but also enhances transparency, accountability, and data security, ultimately empowering law enforcement officers to effectively leverage digital evidence in their pursuit of justice.


Non-proprietary files can be reviewed directly within DigitalOnQ. This includes most image, video, audio, and document file formats. As investigators are reviewing evidence in a case, they can also examine file metadata and audit logs connected to each file.

14. Comprehensive Reporting Tools

Law enforcement agencies are witnessing a significant surge in both the volume and quality of digital evidence collected. This surge presents challenges, with police departments grappling with the escalating size of files and the expanding need for storage space to accommodate this burgeoning data.

To effectively manage this influx of digital evidence and accurately forecast future storage requirements, agencies must have access to robust reporting tools within their Digital Evidence Management Systems (DEMS). These tools play a pivotal role in providing administrators with comprehensive insights into the agency’s digital evidence landscape, enabling them to make informed decisions about storage capacity planning and resource allocation.

Advanced DEMS solutions offer detailed reporting features that meticulously analyze the agency’s digital evidence repository. Administrators can delve into granular data breakdowns, examining the volume of digital multimedia evidence collected on a weekly, monthly, and yearly basis. Furthermore, these reports itemize the types of files stored, including videos, images, documents, and other file formats, providing a comprehensive overview of the agency’s digital evidence inventory.

By leveraging these comprehensive reporting tools, police administrators can effectively assess current storage utilization, identify trends in digital evidence collection over time, and forecast future storage needs with greater accuracy. This proactive approach empowers agencies to optimize their storage infrastructure, ensuring sufficient capacity to meet the demands of evolving digital evidence requirements while maintaining operational efficiency and data integrity.

Investigators can generate a variety of critical reports in DigitalOnQ, including chain-of-custody, evidence hashing, outside sharing, user activity, image proof sheets, and more.

15. Advanced Retention and Purging Features

In managing digital evidence, retention and purging are critical aspects, particularly concerning the storage of evidence in cold or serious criminal cases indefinitely, while materials from adjudicated cases often require eventual purging. Compliance with state and local guidelines and laws governing evidence retention is paramount. However, without a Digital Evidence Management System (DEMS), agencies face the cumbersome task of manually sorting through and purging digital evidence, a process prone to errors and risks.

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A comprehensive DEMS should offer advanced retention and purging features to streamline this process. It allows administrators to configure evidence retention settings, enabling automatic reminders when digital evidence in a case is due for purging. By synchronizing these settings with those of the physical evidence system, agencies ensure a coordinated approach to evidence management, facilitating timely purging when necessary.

Upon determining that evidence in a case is ready for purging, the DEMS admin or designated personnel can initiate the process seamlessly. The DEMS provides options to either purge all digital evidence in a case along with its record or retain the record while purging the digital evidence. Retaining the record ensures compliance with local and state evidentiary retention guidelines, allowing staff and investigators to access archived information while maintaining data integrity and legal compliance. This functionality enhances operational efficiency, minimizes manual errors, and ensures adherence to regulatory requirements in digital evidence management.

DigitalOnQ includes an advanced retention system that can be configured to alert police administrators and supervisors when evidence may be eligible for purging. To prevent digital evidence from being deleted accidentally, several security checks must be completed by authorized administrators. Chain of custody and audit logs are retained for transparency.

16. Support For Migration of Your Digital Evidence 

Comprehensive support for the migration of digital evidence is essential for the successful deployment and long-term effectiveness of a Digital Evidence Management System (DEMS). The transition to a new DEMS requires more than just software installation; it demands a team of experienced installers and subject matter experts to guide agencies through the process seamlessly.

Without such support, agencies risk being left to navigate the migration process alone, which can result in operational disruptions, data inconsistencies, and increased vulnerability to errors. Alternatively, relying on external support services may incur high fees, stretching budgets and diverting resources away from core operations.

A robust DEMS solution should offer dedicated support services tailored to the migration of existing digital evidence into the new system. This includes not only technical assistance during the initial setup but also ongoing support to address any challenges or issues that may arise post-implementation. Moreover, the support team should possess comprehensive knowledge and expertise in digital evidence management, ensuring agencies receive timely and professional assistance throughout their journey with the DEMS.

By investing in a DEMS solution with robust migration support, agencies can minimize disruptions, maximize operational efficiency, and leverage the full potential of their digital evidence management capabilities with confidence and peace of mind.

FileOnQ’s deployment team has many years of experience migrating existing digital evidence (from other systems) into DigitalOnQ. After DigitalOnQ is installed, configured, and deployed, our team can migrate older digital evidence into DigitalOnQ. 


As law enforcement agencies grapple with the exponential growth of digital evidence, the necessity for robust Digital Evidence Management Systems (DEMS) becomes increasingly evident. The features outlined in this article underscore the critical considerations agencies must take into account when selecting a DEMS tailored to their needs.

From deployment options ensuring data availability and security, to scalability that accommodates evolving data volumes and user demands, each feature plays a vital role in optimizing digital evidence management processes. Moreover, integrations with existing systems, comprehensive review modes, and advanced retention and purging capabilities streamline operations while enhancing transparency and accountability.

Furthermore, the seamless migration of existing digital evidence into a new DEMS underscores the importance of dedicated support services, ensuring a smooth transition and continued operational effectiveness.

Ultimately, investing in a comprehensive DEMS is not just about managing digital evidence; it’s about empowering law enforcement agencies to uphold integrity, efficiency, and accountability in their pursuit of justice. By embracing these features and leveraging the capabilities of modern DEMS solutions like DigitalOnQ, agencies can navigate the complexities of the digital age with confidence, ensuring that justice is served effectively and equitably.

Contact us if you would like to talk about digital evidence management best practices or learn more about how DigitalOnQ can help your agency. You can request a demo or consultation here 

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