At the 2015 National Council of Self-Insurers Conference, Michael Caldarazzo from PhotoFax.net presented a session on the use of tactical remote surveillance technology in workers’ compensation.
The Surveillance Vehicle:
- The vehicle must “blend”
- Vehicle should not be a car.
- Once on site, you cannot break position (bathroom, food, etc.)
- You never want to do “up-front surveillance” – in other words, from the front of the vehicle. You don’t want people to see you filming.
- The vehicle must have ample electrical power so it doesn’t need to run because that would draw attention to it.
- There must be silent heat and air conditioning systems to control temperature inside the vehicle.
- All vehicles should have GPS on them to maintain accurate records of where the vehicle was at certain times.
The Video Cameras:
- Cannot be consumer grade cameras, needs to be commercial grade so that they are durable.
- Need to have changeable lenses.
- Battery life must be at least eight hours of run time.
- Gimmick cameras (body cams, etc.) do not produce high-quality video and their battery life is very short. While these are useful in investigations, they have limitations.
Field Unit Operations:
- They recruit ex-military who are used to using camouflage and conducting covert operations that involve sitting in a location undetected for hours.
- Surveillance is more difficult these days as plaintiff attorneys are always warning their clients to be on the lookout for surveillance.
- New technology is an unmanned surveillance vehicle with camera hidden inside which is controlled remotely. This is really the future of surveillance. This allows for longer surveillance assignments of several consecutive days of monitoring versus the traditional eight-hour blocks of time with an actual investigator.
- Currently there are FAA limitations on commercial usage of unmanned surveillance vehicles or drones. If this opens up, it could add a new element to surveillance in remote or hard-to-reach locations.
- Video of work around the home is much more impactful than video of people running routine errands such as getting groceries, etc.
- The use of 24-7 remote surveillance eliminates the questions around “timing”. Did you miss activity or was the activity you saw an isolated occurrence?