Should You Develop Solutions for AI in Law Enforcement?

Is it your goal to be known as a surveillance company?


In 2020, government officials introduced social distancing guidelines. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have advised keeping a distance of 6 feet away from other people and wearing masks to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, guidance that will likely be in place until there is an effective treatment or vaccine.

Some local governments have directed police to enforce those guidelines — a tall order when cities have hundreds or thousands of places where people could congregate for sustained periods, breach the 6-foot social distancing bubble, and forego facial covering. Surveilling and issuing warnings, however, becomes much easier with solutions leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) in law enforcement.

What AI Does that Cameras Don’t

Cameras are everywhere — traffic signals, bridges, stadiums, and even on drones. But cameras alone don’t analyze the images they capture. A person has to review the images, analyze what they see, and, in the case of enforcing CDC guidelines, initiate a notification or take some other action. Cameras also take flat images. It isn’t always easy to estimate the distance between people depending on the camera angle, especially if you’re trying to determine the difference between a distance of 4 or 6 feet.

AI brings new capabilities and automation to surveillance. Algorithms can train AI models to recognize what they see. It can learn to judge distances between people and differentiate between proper and improper face coverings. Solutions using AI in law enforcement also can be specifically trained, for example, to recognize couples walking together or families with children, so they aren’t flagged as violating social distancing guidelines.

Marry those capabilities with stationary surveillance cameras, robots or drones, and the result can be a smart system that surveils areas for noncompliance and issues audible warnings to remind people to keep their distance or put their masks on.

Utilizing AI in law enforcement can also provide additional benefits. Data from these solutions can identify trends, such as high-traffic areas where social distancing isn’t possible, times of day when areas have a greater density of people, and, if trained to do so, identify offenders through facial recognition or other means.

Is Capitalizing on the AI in Law Enforcement Trend the Right Journey for Your Business?

It appears that there is opportunity to develop AI surveillance solutions for law enforcement. If public safety isn’t the primary vertical you serve, however, should you capitalize on it?

Frankly, it depends.

Return to your mission statement and value proposition to ensure it aligns. If the idea passes those tests, brace for your market to change its perception of your brand.

Pegasystems’ research found that only about 35 percent of consumers are comfortable interacting with AI. Furthermore, only 10 percent are comfortable with the government using AI.

True, the comfort level with new technology takes some time to increase, but in the case of AI in law enforcement, media scrutiny and myths may contribute to a longer-than-normal time to acceptance. Headlines broadcast facial recognition inaccuracies and self-driving car failures, and conspiracy theories about the potential dark side of this technology abound — and strike a nerve. In the back of their minds, some people wonder if Orwell’s Big Brother is finally watching.

The bottom line is that to take your business in this direction, you need to be all in. Your brand will be associated with AI in law enforcement — surveillance and policing — and businesses in other verticals and their customers may suspect that’s what your solutions do, wherever they are used.

There is likely an opportunity. Carefully weigh the implications if you decide to take it.

Bernadette Wilson

Bernadette Wilson, a DevPro Journal contributor, has 19 years of experience as a journalist, writer, editor, and B2B marketer.

Bernadette Wilson, a DevPro Journal contributor, has 19 years of experience as a journalist, writer, editor, and B2B marketer.