While crimefighters in popular culture have a vast array of high tech tools available to them as they go about their business, their real life counterparts are often working with tools and methods created decades ago. South Australian startup myEvidence aims to update these processes to improve the effectiveness of our law enforcement agencies.
Aiming to maximise the number of “successful prosecutions,” the startup has developed mobile investigations software that helps police officers collect all forms of digital evidence in the field. It allows officers to create interactive, immersive electronic briefs that can be later shared with and used by prosecutors and defence teams, as well as in the courts, eliminating stacks of paperwork and enabling easier communication between law enforcement and those in the judicial system.
Founded by serving South Australian police officers Tung Tran and Jerome Lienert, myEvidence was created as a way to give officers the means to succeed in the field after several years working in what Tran said was “an ineffective system.”
“myEvidence was brought about by many things, but above all I guess Jerome and I didn’t want to be confined to the desk doing endless amounts of paperwork when we should be out in the community conducting proactive policing activities like chasing after drug dealers, and we couldn’t do that if most of the time we had copious amounts of paperwork,” he said.
The platform allows for officers to use a mobile device to capture and store photos, videos, audio, notes, and other information on the scene. It also allows for the use of external hardware to capture a crime scene in 3D. As well as eliminating the need to carry a number of devices, myEvidence allows officers to create a brief of evidence that can immediately be shared with others not on the scene.
It also allows officers to be safer in the field; Tung said there is pending research and development being done with molecular scanners that will be able to identify hazardous or dangerous substances on first response.
As anyone with even the barest understanding of the legal system – or who’s watched an episode of a police or legal procedural show – knows, what police do in the field is crucial in court. From removing the time-consuming need to create multiple copies of evidence disks to enabling easier collaboration between officers and prosecution teams to ensure the necessary evidence and notes have been collected, myEvidence can help close cases in court.
Tung said, “Often, we didn’t capture enough evidence at the crime scene which led to gaps during the court brief preparation. As matters go to court after 3-6 months, and in larger cases upwards of 12-18 months, it’s difficult to remember particulars without first making enough notes, getting your evidence right. myEvidence can alleviate this problem with timely evidence disclosure.
“In court, defence solicitors go after your credibility. If they can discredit you, they can discredit your evidence, whether it is through a series of minor memory fades such as the colour of someone’s shirt or where you found something, and it can all ultimately lose you a legitimate case.”
Tung and Lienert first came up with the basic idea for myEvidence around 2009. Tung was shot on duty a year later, and he said it was this that saw the project evolve from just an idea.
They first started actively working on the platform in 2013 through Adelaide University’s E-Challenge before taking part in a Google business bootcamp and winning the Pank Prize for Entrepreneurship from the University of South Australia last year. myEvidence also took part in the Venture Catalyst program, run by UniSA and the South Australian Government, through which it received $50,000 in funding.
Though the first of its kind in the Australian market, myEvidence is similar to an American product called SceneDoc, which does much the same thing and is being used by a number of American, Canadian, and various international law enforcement agencies. The take up of SceneDoc overseas is promising for myEvidence, showing that these traditionally slow organisations are keen for change. Tung admits to being met with some initial resistance from police, though they are now warming to new technologies – he and Lienert recently presented the product to the South Australia Police, and are now awaiting a decision from upper management.
The startup has also identified opportunities to expand.
“Due to the broad scope of investigations, it may be applicable to a number of other applications. In this regard, we plan to roll out a white label version to market to insurance investigators, rental/property managers, occupational health and safety, and others,” Tung said.
myEvidence is now ready to run trials, with the Australian Federal Police and West Australian Police interested as part of their organisational reforms.