Smart Policing: Containing Crime in the Cities of the Future

Traditional methods of containing crime are failing. According to NCRB’s 2016 database, 2.97 million incidents were reported officially in 2016 and are only rising each year. By contrast, smart tools can cut down crime rates by almost 40%. Indian law enforcement must look at smart policing if it is to keep up with crime in the future.


Surveiling to Protect

With its potential to improve intel collection, AI is showing the most promise. Israeli AI research firm Cortica has already partnered with India’s Best Group to analyse video streams from public CCTV cameras. Cortica’s systems will aim to detect ‘behavioural anomalies’ that indicate possible crimes before they are committed.

The software is based on Israeli military systems and is trained to detect ‘micro expressions’. These twitches or mannerisms are unique to people and could be used to identify potential threats. For instance, taxis of the future could use this to prevent cases of sexual abuse by alerting the police well in time.

Integrating these systems with a city’s infrastructure is another aspect of smart policing. When a crime is detected, defence measures such as blast walls, smart streetlights and automated fire hydrants could swing into action and reduce the criminal’s chances of getting away. The Integrated Command and Control Centres (ICCC) in India’s smart cities would be used to coordinate responses.

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) could be a huge asset in reducing crime rates through surveillance. Mexico has used UAVs with facial recognition to capture gang members involved in a cartel killing.  Similarly, Dutch police were able to shut down illegal marijuana factories when they noticed certain buildings were snow-free in the middle of winter.

In the Indian context, the loss of life in hostage scenarios such as the infamous 26/11 could have been reduced if UAVs were deployed. Drones could fly into a space and produce a 3D scan of the area. That information could be used by security forces to deploy tactical response teams with custom strategies.

Smart policing would be a seamless extension of the IoT-enabled infrastructure that Digital India is envisioning. However, certain drawbacks must be addressed. The learning algorithms used by machines can be biased depending on the dataset they are fed with. With an increased focus on privacy and data misuse, the Government could face a backlash if universal surveillance measures are introduced.

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