Police around the world are unlikely to be getting more officers or more money in the near future, yet investments in new technology are still being made in almost every department, in the hope that it will improve the speed and accuracy of their work.
These innovations hold the key to cutting costs and reducing the need for a physical police presence. As criminals become wiser to police practices, smart technology will become paramount.
Facial recognition, laser-mapping and secure police apps have all been signifi cant additions to police forces around the world, and are now relied upon extensively.
Knightscope K5 is the world’s first security bot that its inventors believe can cut crime by 50 per cent in the areas it patrols. The K5 stands at just over 1.5 metres (five feet) tall and is fi tted with an array of technology, from number plate recognition to thermal imaging. It even has odour detectors that can monitor pollution.
The K5 is designed to be fully autonomous, patrolling and charging itself without any human involvement. In spite of its ominous appearance it is not weaponised, mainly working towards crime prevention and serving as an extra source of intelligence for the police.
The K5 will initially be used as part of campus security, either for universities or businesses that occupy large sites.
However, there is no reason why these clever robots won’t eventually make their way onto our streets.
The K5 can measure distance and 3D-map areas by illuminating a target with a laser and then analysing the reflected light, a technology known as Light Image Detection and Ranging (LIDAR).
The Dazzler does much more than temporarily blind bad guys: it can also stop them in their tracks.
Developed by Intelligent Optical Systems Inc for the Department of Homeland Security in the United States, this flashlight measures the distance to the target’s eyes with a range finder, so that it can adjust the strength of the light pulses it fires to ensure that no permanent damage is done.
These ultrabright light emitting diodes (LEDs) incapacitate a person in two ways.
The flashes cause temporary blindness like any strong light does, but the real innovation lies in the psychophysical effects, ranging from vertigo to disorientation to nausea, typically lasting for a few minutes.
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Real RoboCop headset
Golden-i is a new wearable headset that provides police offi cers with superhuman abilities. The Golden-i gives the wearer access to important information quickly and easily, and is operated by voice commands and head movements, leaving the offi cer’s hands free.
The accompanying Police Pro application has facial recognition software to identify suspects already known to the police, and can call up floor plans and GPS coordinates of places of interest. Most impressive of all is its ability to see through walls using infrared technology, great for finding a hiding suspect when combined with its thermal vision application.
The Golden-i’s 14-megapixel camera is inertially stabilised, allowing even a running police offi cer to record smooth video of a crime in progress. Slightly different versions of Golden-i have also been designed for firefighters and paramedics.
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Police surveillance drones can be controlled remotely by officers, allowing them to follow a fleeing suspect without risking injury to
themselves. Modern drones can stream live video either to police cars or headquarters, so that the suspect’s location and activity can be monitored in real time.
A drone can capture video, quickly identifying points of interest that crime scene investigators can examine further. Dangerous crime scenes that forensic teams wouldn’t dare enter become accessible, and these autonomous machines can fly in and detail the evidence before it is damaged further by any adverse building conditions.
For police patrolling at night, visibility is always an issue. Thermal-imaging cameras give droness the night-vision, perfect for finding a suspect hiding under the cover of night. Advanced systems can see a full 360 degrees around the drone due to their pan and tilt functions.
Weaponised police drones won’t be permitted in many parts of the world, although there has been a law passed in North Dakota in the United States to allow police to fire tasers from drones. The potential uses of drones are vast, but we are yet to see how much the police will utilise them.
Facial reconstruction system
Various methods for facial reconstruction have existed for decades, but none are as impressive as Snapshot DNA phenotyping. This technique can be used in the absence of photographic or video evidence, and can create a prediction of what a suspect’s face looks like just using a sample of their DNA.
It determines skin, hair and eye colour, as well as face shape and detailed biogeopraphic ancestry.
When the police have nothing else to go on this information is invaluable, and can quickly narrow down a list of suspects. Hopefully, as our understanding of DNA improves it will be possible to pick out further characteristics, which will allow even more detailed facial reconstructions to be created.
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