How assistive AI is revolutionising policing and public safety

22 January 2021

Kalyn Sims

Kalyn Sims, Chief Technology Officer, Hexagon Safety & Infrastructure

By Policing Insight

Police and governments are investing heavily in public safety technology, but as result frontline responders are often faced with vast amounts of data when trying to assess ongoing incidents; Kalyn Sims of computer-aided dispatch specialists Hexagon believes assisted artificial intelligence could be the key to rapid, real-time analysis of data.

In recent years, government agencies and emergency services throughout Britain have ramped up expenditure on a wide range of technologies to protect their citizens and infrastructure. For example, London has made one of the world’s largest investments in security cameras to address crime and the threat of terrorism. There is an extraordinary opportunity to leverage these resources to maximise the efficacy of police work.

“Sifting through a flood of data can slow the response to crises and cause police to miss critical details that could potentially alter their response tactics.”

However, the proliferation of public safety technologies has deluged police with data, potentially overwhelming them if they are unable to cut through the noise. Ironically, too much information can become a hindrance if police cannot extract insights quickly as they respond to an incident, be it a simple traffic accident or a more complex and serious matter such as a terrorist attack.

Information overload has dire real-world consequences, as minutes or even seconds can be the difference between life or death in an emergency. Sifting through a flood of data can slow the response to crises and cause police to miss critical details that could potentially alter their response tactics. Incident commanders must have accurate and relevant information at their fingertips immediately when an emergency occurs.

From data to intelligence

Until now, personnel have needed to manually mine seemingly endless operational data instantaneously, relying on experience and intuition to find the information they need to understand the situation at hand. Police cannot accomplish this task alone.

Fortunately, advances in technology have brought about a revolution in embedded analytics informed by artificial intelligence (AI) – smart machines capable of augmenting humans, with enhanced awareness and real-time, proactive insights to help them make quick decisions. Assistive AI can sift through and interpret large amounts of information almost immediately, finding and flagging hidden insights with unmatched speed and consistency.

“Inter-agency co-ordination is one of the significant benefits of unlocking data-driven insights through AI. Shared awareness across city functions and public safety agencies can inform co-ordinated responses to large and small incidents.”

Emergency communications centre personnel can then use these insights to make better informed decisions when responding to an incident. Having real-time analysis of public safety data can erase operational blind spots, providing police with a holistic understanding of a situation.

This assistive AI augments human capabilities rather than replacing them, detecting similarities and anomalies across calls for service by parsing through the barrage of incoming information. For example, assistive AI can help police and fire departments rushing to an accident to verify and quickly co-ordinate the details of a car crash – such as the number of people in the vehicle – based on multiple calls from the scene.

Indeed, inter-agency co-ordination is one of the significant benefits of unlocking data-driven insights through AI. Shared awareness across city functions and public safety agencies can inform co-ordinated responses to large and small incidents. Is the person jumping the barrier at a Tube station trying to avoid the fare, or is he escaping a robbery nearby? By detecting patterns and connections sooner, police can act faster and coordinate more intelligently with their fellow first responders.

The promise of the cloud

Although some police departments still store their data in on-premises computer servers, more are turning to the cloud (off-premises computing and storage) for several reasons. The cloud offers availability, security, and continuity, which present clear advantages for mission-critical applications like 999 call centres. Indeed, another significant benefit of cloud computing and storage is that on-premises systems cannot integrate AI and machine-learning capabilities easily.

“Police can unlock the flood of information at their fingertips by using the ever-growing value of AI to assist them in understanding emergencies almost instantly.”

As you would expect, cloud technology has been an area of rapid growth for many police organisations, but some are still not capitalising on this incredible tool. The good news is that cloud capabilities continue to evolve by leaps and bounds, especially with respect to their AI integration. One such area of growth has been the intersection of cloud and 5G, which will significantly improve police officers’ ability to exploit AI in the field to glean essential insights while on the move.

In summary, police forces across the UK are turning to modern tools to strengthen capability. But they must be mindful that quality is equally important as quantity for public safety data. Police can unlock the flood of information at their fingertips by using the ever-growing value of AI to assist them in understanding emergencies almost instantly. By better understanding the who, what, when, where and why of a situation, 21st-century police will be in a much better position to perform their essential, lifesaving work.

Kalyn Sims is Chief Technology Officer in the Safety & Infrastructure division of Hexagon, the largest supplier of computer-aided dispatch (CAD) systems globally; overall, its public safety solutions help to protect one in nine people around the world. The Hexagon HxGN OnCall solution has been selected for integration into all Metropolitan Police Service command and control systems from 2021.

 

To learn more about HxGN OnCall Smart Advisor, click here.

 

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