Increasingly law enforcement has turned to artificial intelligence to augment their officers and agencies. AI is said to be an essential factor in law enforcement because it can assist in many areas as well as enhance efficiency. AI technologies is keeping a watchful eye on crowd control and surveillance, being increasingly used for facial identification, and scanning video footage for anomalies. If the primary goal of law enforcement is to help deter and solve crimes while providing society an element of safety and assurance, then there are many ways in which AI can be applied to realize those goals.
Increased use of facial recognition and image enhancement technology
Facial recognition has received widespread application to assist in the identification of criminals in public spaces and crowds. For instance, Chinese officers succeeded in arresting a person from a sea of people inside a stadium, which without AI technology would have been nearly impossible to spot this person. China has installed numerous cameras in public spaces, which helps the police monitor citizens, catch citizens committing petty crimes such as jaywalking and helping identify criminals and arrest them. Some cities like London have experimented with the use of AI in railway stations to help in increasing surveillance, and maybe more nations will come up with the same for better law enforcement.
Facial recognition technology is also being used to help identify and find missing persons. According to NCIC Missing Person and Unidentified Person Statistics, there were over 88,000 people missing in the US alone in 2017. Facial recognition technologies allows law enforcement to scan public places such as stadiums or airports to spot missing persons or identify suspected human trafficking operations.
However, the use of AI in law enforcement is seeing significant push back. San Francisco and Oakland has banned the use of facial recognition in many situations, and especially in the law enforcement context where its use has been controversial. Like all AI applications, AI provides no guarantee of the accuracy of results, and indeed, all algorithms provide only likelihood of correctness as part of accuracy guidelines. Some facial recognition models can have very wild ranges of accuracy only providing slightly more than 50% reliability when used for positive facial determination. For this reason, its use in life-and-death, public safety situations has come under significant scrutiny.
Outside of facial recognition applications, AI technology is being used to enhance the search of images and video footage. Law enforcement uses cameras to assist in surveying scenes are large areas patrolmen can’t cover by food, gaining insight into chains of events, or perhaps clues after criminal activities have taken place. Law enforcement also depends on video technology for extra surveillance especially in large gatherings like marathons and festivals to be able to detect any suspicious activity or threats. Many police departments have chosen this technology to assist in surveillance for identification of people’s faces through facial recognition. AI helps the police in public places like train stations and sports venues by enhancing monitoring.
Smarter physical bots
Law enforcement is also increasingly using physical robots to perform a variety of tasks. Police use robots because they can perform tasks deemed to be dangerous to humans such as the detonation of bombs or entering unknown environments. The robots are equipped with AI technologies to provide more sophisticated capabilities such as easy control and identification or objects or people, which makes them useful in law enforcement.
Some cities are turning to robots to act as extra officers on the street. In 2017 Dubai police introduced a robotic officer. These robots, which are located mainly at tourist spots around the city, are able to perform a limited set of capabilities. Equipped with a computer touch-screen they allow people can report crimes, and have camera to transmit live images back to the operations room where human counterparts are monitoring. With the ability to speak six different languages, these robots are able to better communicate with tourists who may not be fluent in the country’s language.
Assisting with Spotting non-violent crimes
AI is great at spotting patterns and also identify things that don’t fit into that pattern. In fact patterns and anomalies is one of the seven patterns of AI. AI technology has proven to be great at the identification of counterfeit goods, which can be challenging to for humans to spot. Microscopic photos of an item can be taken to examine and identify if the product is genuine or counterfeit.
Financial crimes like stolen credit cards and expense account fraud can be detected with AI because it is good at detection of anomalies. AI machines can analyze the reports of a company or the transactions of individuals and flag the unacceptable and acceptable expenses and can reject unacceptable costs.
However, even with all the benefits that AI can bring to law enforcement, the use of AI can have a downside. The public needs to make sure that law enforcement doesn’t overstep their limits when using AI. What freedoms are we willing to give up in the name of safety?