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Body camera technology developers for law enforcement have been starting to use artificial intelligence (AI) in order to enhance the devices capabilities and efficiency.
Roughly half of all American adults have been entered into a law enforcement face recognition database, meaning there’s a good chance that any random person walking down the street can be identified and tracked in secret by a camera-equipped policeman, according to a recent Georgetown University Law report.
Taser, the gun company that has recently become an industry leader in body-mounted cameras, announced the creation of its own in-house artificial intelligence division. The new unit will utilize the company’s acquisition of two AI-focused firms, Dextro and Misfit, to develop AI-powered tech specifically aimed at law enforcement, using automation and machine learning algorithms to let cops search for people and objects in video footage captured by on-body camera systems.
Moreover, the move suggests that body-worn cameras, which are already being used by police departments, could soon become powerful surveillance tools capable of identifying different objects, events, and people encountered by officers on the street — both retroactively and in real time.
According to vocative.com, the idea is to use machine learning algorithms to streamline the process of combing through and redacting hours of video footage captured by police body cameras.
Dextro has trained algorithms to scan video footage for different types of objects, like guns as well as recognize events, like a foot chase. The result of all this tagging and classifying is that police will be able use keywords to search through video footage just like they’d search for news articles on Google, allowing them to quickly redact footage and zoom in on the relevant elements. Taser predicts that in a year’s time, their automation technology will reduce the total amount of time needed to redact faces from one hour of video footage from eight to 1.5 hours.
Searchable video will also have major implications for civilian privacy, especially since there are no federal laws preventing police from trawling through databases to track people en masse.
Taser has previously expressed interest in adding face recognition capabilities to its body camera systems.
A Department of Justice study published last year found that at least nine different body camera manufacturers either currently support face recognition in their products or have the ability to add it later.
Taser’s Axon body camera platform currently handles more than 5 petabytes of footage, captured by officers and stored in a proprietary cloud locker called Evidence.com.
In the future, Taser CEO Rick Smith said the company wants to expand these capabilities into a kind of AI “personal secretary” for police officers. Such a system would fully automate the collection of data during police encounters, using live voice transcription and image analysis to feed relevant information back to the officer. “Police officers are spending most of their time entering information into computers” about their interactions in the field, Smith said. “We want to automate all of that.”