High-Tech Police Tools: Crime busting breakthroughs or Big Brother?

The futuristic police technologies of traditional sci-fi movies are becoming a reality today.

The futuristic police technologies of traditional sci-fi movies are becoming a reality today. While some of these tools are harmless to everyone but the suspect, others have been pegged as potential violators of privacy or civil liberties. Story version.

Predicting crime through Big Data

Police may not yet have Minority Report’s psychic “pre-cogs” to predict crime before it happens, but it has IBM’s data solution. Using crime data analysis and intelligence that shows what areas may be more prone to crime, the Memphis Police Department reduced crime 28% over a five-year period.

ShotSpotter Gunshot Detection

ShotSpotter recognizes gunshots in public and can lead police to the scene within minutes. It can tell the difference between gunshots and similar noises, such as firecrackers or even hail storms, which reduces the risk of false alarms or even intentional diversions.

Wearable video cameras

The continuously shrinking video camera makes it easy to record footage directly from a police officer’s chest. Some officers have noted a difference in procedure in having to inform citizens that they are being filmed, while others believe constantly filming citizens could erode trust.

LRAD Audio Cannon

The Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) has been around for a while but has gained notoriety in the wake of the ‘Occupy’ protests. It’s essentially a really loud speaker – so loud that those exposed to it can be temporarily debilitated, as shown in this video of its first use in the United States.

Domestic Drones

A lot has been said about the domestic use of drones. Some argue that they’ll save the lives of police officers in dangerous situations, while others are worried about the x-ray vision capabilities and the threat of constantly patrolling drones that could create a Truman Show situation for U.S. citizens.

Silent, electric motorcycles

Think of Paul Blart: Mall Cop’s Segway, but if it could go up to 80 miles an hour on- or off-road while remaining just as silent. The electric motorcycle from Zero Motorcycles has made some significant progress in the last few years, and could be the answer to urban patrol and pursuit.

Robocop glasses

In preparation for the 2014 World Cup soccer tournament, Brazilian police are gearing up with biometric scanning glasses that can capture 400 facial images per second, according to a Telegraph report. The images are scanned against a database storing biometric data on about 13 million people.

Geo mapping to keep criminals out of jail

As a solution to over-crowding in prisons, Gryphex has equipped the traditional ankle bracelet with GPS and radio frequency tracking technology, keeping track of a criminal without taking up more space in a prison.

Recon Scout ‘Throwbot’

No bigger than an average dumbbell, the Recon Scout was dubbed a “throwbot” simply because it’s a robot designed to be thrown. SWAT teams and police officers can throw the device through windows or around corners, then control it with a remote control and capture video footage.

The Increasingly Connected Squad Car

Many officers spend the bulk of their time in their squad cars, so it’s only logical to equip them with the most useful tools. The Chevy Caprice in this video puts an infrared camera on the front bumper, which can track footprints of fleeing criminals and record license plate numbers.

Voice activation for squad cars

All those tools inside the squad car can become distracting for the driver. The Austin, Texas, police mitigated that liability with a hands-free control for GPS maps, radar, and even lights and sirens. The $10,000 investment is justified when considering the high cost of a lawsuit stemming from an accident by a distracted officer.

Canine Accessories

Some police are using dogs as their drones on the ground, equipping them with infrared cameras and GPS tracking to help NYPD police units get the most out of their canine partners.

A Child is Missing

The nonprofit organization A Child is Missing leverages satellite mapping and telephony systems to distribute missing person alerts for children, the elderly and persons with disabilities. In some cases, it has reached more residents in the area when a person went missing, often before the Amber Alert.

MORIS: The Facial Recognition App for iPhone

The Mobile Offender Recognition and Information System, or MORIS, can recognize a suspect based on a scan of 235 unique features of his or her iris, or 130 distinguishing points of his or her face. A plug-in device also allows for fingerprint scanning, all from the officer’s iPhone.

License plate recognition

Another topic of hot debate, license plate recognition cameras aim to help improve accuracy for police monitoring traffic or in pursuit of a suspect. But the potential for abuse remains a concern. In the video here, a particularly savvy user shows off license plate recognition on a Samsung Galaxy S.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.