Can AI Provide Law Enforcement with the Tools and Intelligence to Improve Public Safety?

In the not-too-distant future, responsible artificial intelligence (AI) could provide law enforcement with new, proactive tools to more effectively combat crime. Cameras may recognize people fighting, detect unattended items, or even monitor an area for unusual changes. Using AI to assess situations like these can trigger systems to alert the police, allowing for real-time reaction when the public needs help.

Today’s video footage, captured and stored on public safety cameras, is most often used after a crime is committed. With rare exceptions, it’s used to react to crime instead of to prevent it. An average of only two percent of public safety camera footage are monitored in real time today. Adding AI and data analytics to current closed-circuit television (CCTV) technology can improve public safety in the future.

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Data Technology + Innovation = Real-Time Protection

AI, once engrained into public safety infrastructure, will be programmed by humans, trained over time, and could analyze thousands of video feeds generated today – from CCTV to mobile phone live feeds to security-service provided badges and smart locks. With the rise of the IoT, other sources like connected cars, aerial drones and more will provide video to be monitored and analyzed for anomalous activity. Can AI transform cameras from their current form, often providing only the illusion of protection, into a real-time police dragnet for tomorrow’s cities and towns? It isn’t unthinkable that someday we’ll see technology detect crime in a matter of seconds.

Privacy: A Big Public Concern

Adoption of advanced crime prevention initiatives and responsible, AI-driven technology requires significant effort to consider and address concerns about citizen privacy. With the ever-growing amounts of personal data available and controversies that have recently emerged, understandable fears and doubts held back proposals by law enforcement and government to collect and store greater amounts of data.

Will knowing that bad actors could misuse the data and violate privacy prevent the potential positive gains for crime prevention? Only time will tell if positive impacts will outweigh these concerns. A more expansive, and more intelligent, public safety practice is a goal that we can expect to be squarely in public discourse for years to come.

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