Significant Technological Developments in Law Enforcement and Policing

Significant Technological Developments in Law Enforcement and Policing

Gov CIO Outlook | Thursday, August 04, 2022

As technology in law enforcement continues to advance, it is time to examine new technological trends that will further transform the business. These technologies are designed to safeguard both the public and police officers.

FREMONT, CA: The future of preventing crime will be primarily determined by the same technology altering business and other aspects of life. Artificial intelligence (AI), automation, big data, augmented reality, and all the other most significant innovations we observe in other industries are also impacting policing.

These technologies provide law enforcement and intelligence organizations with new capabilities to combat criminal behavior and keep us secure. In addition, they aid in combating the new forms of crime emerging as criminals grow more imaginative in their use of technology and data.

Here is a look at some of the most recent technological advancements that will play an essential part in policing now and in the near future.

Smart device data

The amount of data generated is expanding, and much of it might benefit the fight against crime. Internet of things (IoT) gadgets, such as video doorbells and voice assistants, with their potential to capture accidental occurrences in their environment, are becoming more significant intelligence sources for cops and investigators hunting for evidence. A judge in the United States has used data from an Alexa smart speaker in a double murder case. And Fitbit fitness tracker data has been utilized in other cases, most recently in the case of a man accused of murdering his wife.

More than 400 police agencies have joined with video doorbell company Ring to obtain device data (with permission from the device owners). In addition, smart city infrastructure will increasingly incorporate features to aid in crime detection and prevention, such as traffic signal regulation to expedite the arrival of police and emergency personnel at the site of crimes or accidents.

The technology has existed for some time, but its prevalence is growing. For example, ShotSpotter is a network of devices designed to combat crime. This comprises microphones mounted to city infrastructure, such as streetlights, that detect gunfire. It then sends real-time notifications to law enforcement officers, allowing them to respond more swiftly than if they had to wait for witness reports.

Computer vision

In police, computer vision has multiple vital applications. Most commonly, it is used for automated license plate recognition (ALPR) to enable cameras to identify vehicles and drivers. Facial recognition, a more contemporary application, has also proven problematic, with one British police department employing it illegally. This was because it was employed "indiscriminately" and without regard for restricting racial or gender bias.

Despite this, it is becoming increasingly common for the police to employ this technology; such deployments in the United States include identifying people responsible for the 6 capitol attacks in January 2021 and the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020.

Computer vision is also being implemented in a new generation of lie detectors that function by detecting minute eye and face movements. For instance, EyeDetect is one such technology that has been freely utilized on criminals and during employment interviews.

Computer vision could soon detect crimes before they occur, like in the film Minority Report. Ongoing research aims to apply machine learning to video footage to develop prediction algorithms that can anticipate where crimes are likely to occur based on the number of people in the environment, traffic, weather, and detectable items. This may include CCTV camera data or even drone footage.

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