The 5 Biggest Tech Trends in Policing and Law Enforcement

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The future of crime fighting is defined by much of the same technology that is revolutionizing business and other areas of life. Artificial intelligence (AI), automation, big data, extended reality, and all of the most important trends we identify in other industries are also making their mark in policing.

These technologies give police and intelligence agencies unprecedented powers to suppress criminal activity as they try to protect us. They also help combat new forms of crime that are emerging as criminals become increasingly inventive in their own use of technology and data.

So here’s a look at some of the latest technological developments that will play a key role in policing today and in the near future.

Data from smart devices

The volume of data being generated is exploding, and a lot of this data has the potential to be useful when it comes to fighting crime. Internet of Things (IoT) devices such as video doorbells and voice assistants, with their ability to capture accidental events in their environment, are increasingly becoming valuable sources of intelligence for officers and detectives alike. the search for evidence. Data from an Alexa smart speaker has been used by a US court to help in a double murder case. And data from Fitbit fitness trackers has been used in several cases, most recently in the case of a man accused of killing his wife.

Over 400 police forces have partnered with video doorbell maker Ring to access captured data from their devices (with permission from device owners). Additionally, smart city infrastructure will increasingly be built with features to help with crime prevention and detection, such as traffic light control to help police and paramedics quickly reach the scene. crimes or accidents.

ShotSpotter is a network of devices specifically designed to help fight crime. It is an array of microphones attached to city infrastructure, such as streetlights, that detect the sound of gunfire. It then issues real-time alerts to law enforcement officers who can respond faster than if they had to wait for witness reports. The technology has been around for a while but is becoming more mainstream. However, it has also generated some controversy due to its disproportionate deployment in ethnic minority neighborhoods.

computer vision

Computer vision has several important use cases in policing. Perhaps most commonly it is used for Automatic License Plate Recognition (ALPR) to allow cameras to identify vehicles and their drivers. A more recent application is facial recognition, which has also proved controversial, with a police force in the UK found to be using it illegally. Indeed, it has been used “indiscriminately” and without regard to the limitation of racial or gender bias.

Nonetheless, it’s increasingly common for police to use the technology – recent deployments in the US include identifying those involved in the January 6 Capitol Building bombings and the 2020 Black Lives Matter riots.

Computer vision is also used in a new generation of lie detectors, which work by analyzing the microscopic movements of the subject’s eyes and face. One such system called EyeDetect has been used voluntarily on suspects, as well as by employers during job interviews.

Computer vision may even soon be used for the pre-emptive detection of Minority Report type crimes before they happen. Research is underway on applying machine learning to video data to create predictive algorithms that can suggest where crimes are likely to occur, based on the accumulation of people in the environment, traffic , weather and objects that can be detected in the environment. This could involve data captured from CCTV cameras or even drone footage.

Robotics

Robots are clearly useful in law enforcement because of their ability to get themselves into dangerous situations. While society and technology are probably not quite ready for a general-purpose Robocop, autonomous mobile units will play an increasingly important role in a number of specialized roles in the years to come.

One of the most important is to get rid of bombs, suspicious packages and other suspicious and potentially dangerous objects. These have been around since the 1970s, but the latest generation is controllable via VR-style headsets, while still being able to operate with a much greater degree of autonomy than earlier models. Robots have also been developed that can climb stairs and even jump over walls to save human operators having to manually place them near the suspect bomb before they can get to work.

Robots are also used by security services and law enforcement for surveillance. The Boston Dynamics-created robodog navigates using LIDAR and is equipped with thermal cameras to spot intruders even in the dark. Plans have also been put in place to potentially allow them to be used in hostage negotiation scenarios.

The market for robots in law enforcement is expected to reach $5.7 billion this year, so we can be sure that many more interesting use cases are likely to emerge.

Digital twins

A digital twin is a computer model of any real-world object, system, or process. It is informed by data – through IoT technology and sensors – allowing it to accurately simulate anything it is a twin to. In Guangdong, China, the Provisional Police Department worked with city authorities to create a real-time map of the city, showing where incidents are happening, as well as mapping public interactions, calls, the use of police resources and suspected or potential threats. . Feeds from 10 separate government departments are consolidated into the model, giving police forces comprehensive, real-time insight through a visual data analytics platform. This means police can simulate and gauge their response to everything from city-wide emergencies to dispatching resources to deal with everyday issues like street robberies and community nuisances.

Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR).

VR and AR have a lot of exciting potential that we are already seeing being put to use in training and the daily work of police officers. A system developed by AXOM is designed to train police in a range of skills, including detuning from potentially violent situations and dealing with members of the public when there may be complicating factors such as hearing impairment or illness. Alzheimer’s.

In the United States, police officers in Oklahoma use a different system called Apex Officer, which helps practice answering calls when mental health is an issue. Other systems use 360-degree video walls that surround the trainee, rather than requiring them to wear a headset.

Outside of training and in the field, augmented reality is useful because it allows officers to stay aware of what’s going on in their vicinity while improving their understanding of a situation with overlaid computer graphics. In China, police use AR glasses that can identify suspects and those wanted for questioning. The glasses, created by startup Xloong Technology, allow police to access real-time facial recognition and license plate features. Although privacy concerns mean this technology is unlikely to be adopted by Western police forces any time soon, it is an interesting glimpse into the future of law enforcement technology.

To stay up to date with these and other trends, sign up for my newsletter and check out my books ‘Business Trends in Practice’, ‘Extended reality in practice‘ and ‘Technology trends in practice.’

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