Dec 03 2021

Tech and Objective Data Can Help Improve Trust in Public Safety, Survey Finds

A recently released report from technology firm Veritone found that body-worn cameras and license plate reader technology are seen as helping to make communities safer. 

With law enforcement agencies contemplating new models of operating and partnering with other public safety and social services in their localities, it’s never been more important for them to be transparent with the communities they serve.

According to a recently released survey from artificial intelligence technology firm Veritone, which works closely with many law enforcement agencies, 42 percent of Americans say a lack of transparency has hurt their perception of law enforcement.

The survey, which was conducted in April and received responses from a statistically representative sample of 3,000 American adults, found that while 44 percent of respondents wanted law enforcement agencies to “increase funding for anti-racism or unconscious bias training,” just 22 percent “approve of lawful collection of perceived race and other demographic information to measure for potential bias in law enforcement.”

Technology can play a key role in helping law enforcement build trust with the communities that members police, according to the report. The public is willing to give police the benefit of the doubt when it comes to this technology, the report notes, with 61 percent of respondents saying that “they trust the police to use technology to better identify suspects.”

“Technology is very important, especially now, when we’re trying to be data-driven and intelligence-driven in policing,” Christopher Bailey, assistant chief of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, says in the report.

“With limited resources and the demands on law enforcement growing by the day, we have to allocate wisely,” he says. “Technology plays an incredibly important role in making people feel safe, solving crimes, and building trust and legitimacy within the community. The more information we can provide at the public’s fingertips, I think the better off we’ll be.”

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How Technology Can Help Law Enforcement Enhance Transparency

According to the survey, the top three technologies seen as having the most potential to make communities safer are body-worn cameras (48 percent), ShotSpotter technology that can identify the location of gunshots (27 percent) and automatic license plate recognition (26 percent).

The three technologies seen as the having the most potential for misuse by law enforcement are artificial intelligence (33 percent), surveillance drones (28 percent) and security robots (27 percent).

The report acknowledges that body camera footage is helpful but has its limitations. “Releasing body-worn camera footage requires technical skills many departments lack, and if this causes a delay, the perception is that there is something to hide,” the report notes. “Specific to body worn camera footage, the identity of innocent bystanders and other personally identifiable information must be redacted prior to public disclosure.”

According to Veritone, it’s not uncommon for law enforcement agencies to spend roughly one hour per minute of body camera footage manually redacting that information.

“AI significantly expedites this process, enabling agencies to complete the same task in minutes. This allows for faster disclosure of important footage for the public’s review and eliminates the need to incrementally hire specially trained subject matter experts,” the report notes. “In the future, departments not only need tools for video redaction, but tools that help them distribute, not just collect, important video data from an incident.”

RELATED: How can tech tools enable data-driven decision-making for public safety?

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