Robotic officers may not exactly swoop down to save the day anytime soon (much to a lot of people’s relief!), but modern tech is making waves in public safety around the globe. Instead of how Robocop envisioned the future of policing tech to be, we have somehow managed to actually keep things less drastic and more effective!
2020 is significant for more reasons than just one, but more than anything else, it marks our entry into the next evolutionary stage of living in the nonfictional version of the cyber age.
Given that Canadian police must also keep up with the enhancements that are happening all around us to have any hope of successfully mitigating public dangers, law enforcement is not that behind in terms of incorporating technology to improve policing either. Taking a look at how modern tech is helping the police force in keeping things safe and secure should help us understand that point with better clarity.
Application of Smart Sensors in a Variety of Situations
The term smart sensors is a collective one, rather than being definitive, so go through the following list to know what this collective sum of smart sensors consists of.
- Cameras: traffic cams, security cams, spy cams, wearable body cams, etc.
- Traffic sensors automate lights and improve congestions during peak/off-peak hours
- Drone surveillance
- Microphones: listening bugs are a real thing!
- Automatic alarms of various type
- (Controversial) use of Stingray surveillance
Do note that most of these have been around for generations, so what is it about this equipment that makes it so smart? The short answer is IoT, aka, the Internet of Things. How IoT makes traditional sensors “smart” can be defined as follows.
Interconnected – IoT connects everything together, including the sensors and the associated alert systems. Therefore, when a camera picks up a Wanted license plate, all concerned officers are alerted immediately and automatically. This has resulted in runaways being apprehended more successfully from the very first day of its implementation.
Instant Action – All it takes is a few minutes of delay to lose a suspect or to fail in preventing burglaries, or worse. Therefore, the very fact that a home security alarm can be triggered automatically to notify the local police is something that makes a huge difference in both the short and long-term.
Improved Safety for Officers – it is easy to forget that police officers put their lives on the line every single day of their working life, therefore, the fact that they can be better prepared to ensure their own safety is extremely important.
A bug or a spy cam can let them know about the kind of arms a particular group of surveyed suspects may have. This knowledge can save lives on both ends, and they often do during planned raids.
Improved Safety for the Citizens – The same interconnected sensors that let officers know about the criminal armaments will also help them estimate and prepare accordingly to save the lives of citizens who might be caught in a crossfire, or in a hostage situation. Surveillance drones with cameras on them are often criticized, but in such situations, the footage they provide have often been found to be crucial in saving lives.
Clarity of Action – Wearing a bodycam has almost become standard practice now, but IoT makes sure that the footage isn’t lost, even if the camera is destroyed during a struggle. It keeps officers more aware of their conduct and actions while helping them to keep false claims of unlawful behavior at bay.
Reduced Traffic Congestion – The streets of big cities like Toronto are infamous for their traffic congestion even today, but the implementation of smart traffic sensors has contributed heavily to keep it from spiraling out of control. The idea is simple really, but it works all the same and improves the following.
- They indicate and notify about available parking spots
- Remote monitoring and handling of the signals is made possible, to make up for a lack of traffic officers
- The sensors can automate the lights to an extent
- They notify the traffic department immediately on sensing heavy congestion, or even the probability of it
This is, of course, not the full list, but it’s enough to provide readers with an idea regarding how crucial smart sensors are today for improving police performance and increasing public safety.
Improving the Performance and Number of Police Leaders Via Online Training
It was officially published last year that Canadian police are alarmingly shorthanded at this time. In fact, the report indicates a dip in the number of available police officers in Canada right now, which is greater than what we had seen so far in the last decade.
If we were to bullet point the key numbers from that report, then the following would serve to provide the reader an idea regarding the alarming deficit that’s creating a severe issue for the law enforcement groups.
- The total number of available police officers in Canada at the end of 2018 was 68,562
- In between 2017 and 2018, 463 active officers were lost through retirement or otherwise
- As experienced officers keep retiring, there’s an increasing gap up top in the availability of qualified leaders
- Last time the Canadian police force fell to such low numbers was in 2009
- On adjusting the number of available officers with the growth in population, police presence per capita was only this low back in the early 1990s
- 60% of the policing population is present in just Ontario and Quebec
- Every 100,000 Canadians have 185 officers attending to them
- Prince Edward Island has a single officer to cater to the needs of every 709 locals
As should be evident by now, the numbers are nothing short of alarming, but here’s where online education can be crucial to saving the day, so to say!
Online education is no longer what it used to be at one point, thanks once again to the massive improvements made in technology, some of which can be listed as follows.
- Better webcams and better displays for live classes
- Faster internet speeds enabling HD or even higher quality streaming of live/recorded classes
- Faster hardware to make an online session feel fluid, productive and natural
- Easier and intuitive access to the online university’s web resources; helping online education become more approachable
Although police training is not something that can be completed online, what an online BA in Policing program can do is help the Canadian police force meet its demand for properly educated and experienced leaders.
The gap up top seems to be widening with every passing year now, so, if you have already been a part of the force for a year, click here to know more regarding how you can help reduce the ever-decreasing number of leaders in the police force while helping your own career prospects in the process.
AI and Predictive Policing
Artificial intelligence is not what most people believe it to be, but that’s actually a good thing for all the right reasons! What it is, however, can and already does help police officers greatly.
We already mentioned how traffic sensors can automate traffic lights and alert officers about potential congestions even before it happens, and that’s pretty much what AI does. It observes, learns, and predicts with increasing accuracy, every single time.
Machine learning is a complex concept to explain, but in simple terms, it can be considered as a developing algorithm that is capable of learning and changing on its own, based on previous experiences. This continuous process of learning will eventually make AI predictions nearly perfect, but that time is still not here yet.
Even in its current state of nascency though, AI is helping the police force along the following lines.
- Vancouver police have access to a system that can predict possible break-ins in a location within a two-hour period
- Live footage can be analyzed instantly by AI to pick up potential criminal activities, even before it culminates
- AI suggestions free of personal bias can help to minimize the human error factor in granting bail/sentencing/granting parole/inmate housing
Funding is a Huge Problem
One of the other most prominent problems that police forces around the globe are facing at the moment is a lack of funds to sufficiently incorporate every piece of helpful technology available. It is one thing to invent, but entirely another to implement on a countrywide basis. Nevertheless, as it is with all things related to technology, we will find ways to bring down the price in time and our officers will soon be even better equipped to deal with public safety and peacekeeping hazards in the near future.
Now that a brief introduction to the various aspects of modern police tech has been given, it’s safe to say that if everything comes together in the coming decade, the scene of law enforcement in Canada could look a lot different in the near future, mostly for the better!