PoliceTube: How Online Video is Helping Criminal Investigations

Youtube: A Place to share videos of yourself with those around you. What if those people were the Police? Would you still upload videos then?

Now more than ever before, Authorities are realising the power of online video; for making connections, for broadcasting appeals, and for finding the criminal who is responsible. We are all aware of CCTV and its effectiveness in monitoring the public. We are also aware of its impingement of privacy and the big brother culture of the world today.

You might think it is a bit of fun to upload a video of your friend mucking about causing crimes you don’t find particularly offensive. But you must remember that these videos are not anonymous. Police can track you down.

Amidst the Student Protests last December, hundreds if not thousands of crimes were committed, but for those unlucky enough to be filmed, it was only a matter of time until it got uploaded to the world wide web.

Every other day it seems that the BBC report stories of people being identified from amateur footage found online. Police are catching onto this and they’re becoming increasingly good at it. You can see the petrol bomb story on the BBC News website here.

Given the massive influence online video has in journalism, papers across Britain can link to the film on youtube, which will then encourage thousands of users to log on and have a look.

But Orwell can be kept at bay for the meantime, because by the same sword the Police fight by, the Police themselves can be slayed. See here for possible evidence of a Police man apparantly charging at protestors on horseback.

Online video is now not only helping convict civilians, but also helping with the conviction of the Police too.

To the right we see wheelchair-bound activist Jody McIntyre who was reportedly filmed being dragged from his wheelchair amidst the student protests. And below – the video footage which was uploaded to youtube that sparked controversy late last year.

Online Video has also helped police in a pro-active sense: They have now started uploading their own, in a bid to crack down on crime.  Thames Valley Police Unit in particular have taken this stance and issued videos asking for any witnesses to come forward with any informati0n they may have. They have asked for info on a 14 year old knee-capping via youtube and this morning on a case regarding sexual assault. See video below:

Yesterday it was announced that High Definition CCTV systems are currently being tested across the UK that are up to 50 times more powerful than traditional CCTV cams. They have thus far been installed at local authorities and service stations, and the Aviva stadium is reportedly using them.

Looks like we’ll soon see new CCTV footage in HD quality on youtube soon! Talk about getting with the times eh!



BBC Football video content finds the back of the net as SkySports.com is shown the red card

Every morning the first thing I do when I wake up is open my laptop and go straight to the BBC Football website. There I can get all the news of the day and the latest gossip and transfer rumours in the world of football. Now I am a massive football fan, I watch games from all over Europe and not just the big three leagues either. However my main obsession is with the English Premier League and for this in my opinion the coverage on BBC Sport is second to none. It may not have as many new articles every day and updated as regularly as Skysports.com but the quality is far superior.

Nowhere is this more obvious than in a comparison between the two websites’ video content. You would think with the massive money Sky pays to have the rights to Premier League football that their video content would be second to none but this isn’t the case.

Firstly with a much simpler, less cluttered and user friendly website, the videos on BBC Sport, all separately listed immediately grab your attention and you click on them. However with Sky Sports, all the video is in one window that shows you a freeze frame of one video for a few seconds before rolling to the next one. This means you have to wait to see screen shots of all the latest videos until you see one that interests you.

In the top right hand corner we can see the small video window where each video appears one by one.

Whereas on the BBC Football website videos are separated so you can see them all at once









These days people don’t want to waste time sifting through everything available to get the content they want. They want to be able to overview it all and pick out their favourites.

Another bone of contention for me with Skysports.com is the bloody adverts on every single video! These are not just short 20-30 second adverts but usually a minute and twenty seconds long. That’s just plain ridiculous! I realize they must make money through advertising but must they really put an advert of over a minute on every video? I mean who even watches these adverts? If I click on a video and it has an advert before it I will usually just click away immediately. I will only stick with it if it’s a video I really want to see but then I will just mute the computer and look at another page until it’s finished. For me this is something Skysports.com really need to sort out, whether it’s feasible to move them elsewhere or cut them to less than twenty seconds I don’t know, but I do know that nobody clicks on a video to watch an advert.

What makes the BBC football video content so good is that it offers different types of video. For example the vast majority of video content on Skysports.com is mainly interviews with players and managers, and their press conferences.  However on BBC they are more imaginative and offer a much wider variety of content.

Firstly what I really enjoy is Football Focus extra bits that lead up to the main programme on the weekend that often go behind the scenes at a football club and have expert opinion from their pundits. Moreover they try things out of the ordinary such as having David Cameron, Idris Elba and Kobe Bryant amongst others predicting the results of the weekend’s fixtures. (If you follow these links, you can see their predictions for yourself.)

I don’t think Sky Sports would ever have the cojones to try something like this. They are too comfortable in their middle of the road ways to try anything requiring a bit of imagination. The best you’ll get from them is Jamie Redknapp in a nice suit telling us how good his cousin Frank Lampard is!

Now don’t get me wrong, Sky Sports offers brilliant football coverage on TELEVISION. But they still have a lot to learn when it comes to online video, and they could do worse than taking a few tips from the Beeb.

UPDATE – After writing this blog and trying to embed my favourite BBC football videos on here, I found that the BBC won’t let you do that. Looks like their not so great after all! I was only able to embed the video above as it was on YouTube. It does illustrate my point quite well though; the BBC doing something different by taking us behind the scenes of one of Germany’s lesser well known clubs, Hoffenheim. However Skysports.com do let you embed their videos, it’s just a shame nobody would want to!

Yianni Meleagros

At The Scene: Online Video’s Crucial Role in Breaking News

So, there you are in the office writing up your script for the BBC’s News at Ten and at 9.40pm the juiciest news story breaks out all around you! How do you capitalise on this massively visual piece NOW whilst it’s still hot?  What do you do? What can you do? The answer is Nothing. You are forced to sit, wait for 10pm and watch as the pie quickly cools…

GUTTED without Online Video

“What about the BBC News Channel and Sky News? They provide 24 hour rolling news!” Correct, you are right there. But only for people who can afford satellite television, which currently only stands at one THIRD of UK homes. The other 66%, the majority, are left to wait.

Your smug fellow colleagues at BBC who work in the department of BBC News Online, on the other hand, can dig in straight away. They can even burn their tongues by capitalising on news so fast.

It’s not just them stuffing their chops – Sky News Online, CNN, and Twitter constantly dine at the online video buffet for breaking news stories. And when they do, they can be assured it’s always fresh.

When the story of the 7/7 bombings in London broke in July 2005, the BBC went straight online to youTube and Flickr for videos and photos of what had happened. The user generated comments they found there also gave them ideas about the potential casualties they needed to report.
Jo Twist, BBC’s Technology Reporter says:

“Unlike TV cameras, mobile phones only need a functioning network to send back moving images. This can be done at the touch of a couple of buttons.

TV crews often need feed links and complex set-ups to file back their high-quality images.

The grainy quality of the moving mobile images will improve over time, but news organisations say viewers forgive the quality as they understand the circumstances in which such footage is often shot.”

The above video was taken by David Couzins, an un-injured train passenger underground the day of the 7/7 bombings. He says:

“Although not particularly interesting, I did manage to email this video directly to some of the world’s major newsrooms as soon as I got to the surface (something that was reasonably advanced in 2005) and as a result both the BBC and Sky News played this video numerous times throughout the day as the story unfolded. I will never forget that day.”

Amateur videos are becoming extremely popular as time goes on, as the average person becomes more and more adept to shooting their own footage comfortably and sharing it immediately. Their proxomity to the scene of the story cannot be beaten by news organisations, bacause it is from those involved that the organizations are alerted in the first place. Take the disaster in Haiti for instance:

In reporting the earthquake disaster in Haiti in Jan 2010, the BBC posted amateur footage from youtube without properly discovering its source or checking its reliability. But even if you do check the sources, and they all add up, time will not wait for you.

And even if you do provide up-to-the-minute news during broadcast, nothing can be done once transmission has ceased: if a burning story breaks at 10.36pm, there’s no opportunity to broadcast it for another 6 hours on BBC One until 4.35am the following day.

With online news, you can be sure to get that breaking story out and spread it to the world fast. You don’t have to send a reporter to the place of the incident. You don’t have to voxpop for mixed reviews/opinions. You don’t have to reconstruct any action that takes place. You just have to venture online.

Because Online Video will always be first at the scene.


Goliath is Back: 4oD versus the BBC for the title of Video On Demand Champion

It’s a classic case of David meets Goliath but in the digital age. This time the big dog bites back, leaving the rest trailing behind.

So without further ado, let the battle commence…

As a devout viewer of Channel 4 for the past 22 years, I quickly caught on to the idea of being able to watch television programmes when they weren’t on television. Thus, when Channel 4 on Demand (4oD) opened its web-based doors in November of 2006, I was already camped outside propped up on a deck chair enjoying a ham sandwich ready for an invite inside. At first, I was asked for ID and subsequently rejected – oh the nostalgia of only being allowed 4oD access if you were a member of Channel 4. I even remember being asked to pay once I had gained entry, you know, to see special material. This option didn’t particularly tickle my fancy however, so I declined. But once I signed-up, I was in, and to my genuine belief, I was there to stay.

At first I tried to keep it quiet, on the down low, hush hush. Because here I was, in what felt like rather a state of privilege – I was getting to see exclusively Channel 4 content as much as I wanted, whenever I wanted. Whilst others still tried to catch the latest Eastenders or Coronation street fidgeting in the cold, I was lounging at home with my feet up watching the latest Peep Show episode, and when I felt like it, the complete series of Nigel Slater broadcast nearly 10 years ago in ‘98. I could even pop to the kitchen for a cuppa, just keeping the programme on pause.

Yup – life as a viewer was pretty sweet until late 2007…when BBC iPlayer was firmly launched…

But who noticed the launch? I mean, really?! People by this stage were revelling in the apparently endless 4oD collection that was growing by the day, both with old and archive material. And by this time, over 100 million visitors had watched 4oD. No no, it wasn’t until iPlayer’s re-vamp in the summer of 2008 that it gained any real attention. And even then, the Beeb could only offer a 7-day catch-up, whereas 4’s programmes were there for always. Faith restored. For the meantime.

Slowly and surely though, things started changing – iPlayer continued to grow, as did 4oD, but in a different way. A better way.

Soon, the Black Books series wasn’t available on 4oD…Well-known films started to disappear…Advertisement breaks started springing up out of nowhere, like toadstools on a perfectly preened lawn.

Simultaneously, the Beeb quickly caught on to the fact they have thousands of hours of archive footage at their disposal, buried away in the depths of television history. They were soon shown the light.

And as all this was happening and both 4oD and iPlayer gained their following, ITV got a little lonely. Soon they became hungry for a piece of the pie. Sadly though, it looks like they’ll remain hungry for a long time yet. The ITV Player is completely littered with advertisement breaks, to the point that viewing a simple half-hour show is a frustratingly laborious task. ‘Celebrity Juice’ for instance, has FOUR ad breaks for its half-hour show – with not just one of a few seconds, but FIVE 30 second-long clips. Not to mention the incredibly exacerbating slow speed of the site; you feel as though you should be awarded a medal for Audience Commitment by the time it loads. The sporadic pop-out window, too, is another spit in the face.

Then there is Demand 5. Yes, that’s right, Channel 5’s Video On Demand service. What is that you ask? Exactly. Let’s not dwell on it, but simply conclude that it has never been viewed by yourself, your family, or any of your immediate associates. BT Vision gave up on it in October of last year, so we can too.

Now, back to the betrayal.

These days, Alfa Romeos are more reliable than 4oD, and iPlayer sort of just makes sense: It’s not just one channel’s programmes up for grabs; You’ve got BBC HD now, as well as BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Three, BBC Four, BBC News, BBC Parliament, BBC Alba, CBBC BBC and CBEEBIES BBC. In iPlayer, there are no annoying Pop-ups, if there are ads, they’re far and few between and the overall streaming service seems faster. You can also download programmes onto your hard drive and keep them forever and ever, and now almost every programme can be enjoyed in High Definition!

Courtesy of Worldtvpc

As the latest statistics reveal, viewer figures for iPlayer DOUBLED from 60m to 120m a month between 09/10! And that was a year ago.

No more Peep Show for me!

Sorry 4oD, but unless you pull your technical socks up, you’re going to end up like Myspace – full of creepy old men pretending they’re cool.