AI and its associated technologies, are vastly improving operations in the police, ambulance and fire services. The Metropolitan Police, NEC Corporation, CENSIS, Corti.ai, and P-Flash are just some of the organisations currently developing and deploying these new technologies.
All blue light operations are currently using AI in one form or another to help with public safety and improve efficiencies. However, more widespread use of emerging technologies is predicted, in response to changes in the environment, government policy and public perceptions.
A recent report by Motorola highlighted the fact that public expectations for safety have heightened during the pandemic, with a growing awareness and acceptance of the need for technology to improve standards. The report revealed that 88% of citizens saw a need to transform public safety via the use of advanced technology, citing video, cybersecurity and the cloud as required innovations.
According to Dr. Chris Brauer of Goldsmiths University, London when it comes to new technology, the pandemic has:
“ increased our understanding of why public safety and enterprise organisations need it to respond to new threats”.
In this post we’ll outline some of the ways AI and its associated technologies are changing the face of the emergency services.
Facial recognition software
Facial recognition software and artificial intelligence are just some of the new technologies equipping modern-day police forces.
The goal of this technology is to improve security and safety, although there have been concerns about its potential for unethical purposes. The Metropolitan police department is set to expand its use of facial recognition capabilities going forward - including the ability to process historic images from a variety of sources, including CCTV feeds and social media, to track suspects. This Retrospective Facial Recognition (RFR), is being commenced in conjunction with Japanese tech firm NEC Corporation.
Six police forces in England and Wales are currently using a form of RFR technology while Live Facial Recognition (LFR) is also being expanded in the UK. The technology can also be used to identify missing or deceased people by scanning the faces of people walking past cameras, and comparing them against a watchlist in real-time.
Aerial drones are also being used to identify missing and vulnerable people, with recognition software equipped with advanced cameras and neural computer networks. These systems can spot people from up to 150 metres away and they’re compact enough to be run on a phone, with technology that learns as it goes. A non-profit organisation called CENSIS has been partnering with Police Scotland to develop drones.
More police departments around the world are deploying drones to track criminal activities too -as has been confirmed by the FBI in the US.
Biometrics in law enforcement is becoming more varied and advanced, with handheld biometric devices allowing officers to scan fingerprints, and match them against remote databases, while out in the field.
Predictive policing involves mathematical and predictive analytics to identify potential criminal activity - whether for predicting crimes, offenders, perpetrators’ identities and for predicting victims of crime. It can help the police plan where to patrol, and at what times, by analysing large amounts of data.
Voice recognition and policing
Speech recognition is helping police officers save time when writing up reports. Since speech recognition software uses algorithms, it becomes more accurate over time. Speech recognition and transcription software can be used with mobile phones, so officers can create reports while they’re on the move, and share reports instantly with other departments.
2 Ambulance services and AI
The Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust is working with tech firm Corti.ai in a bid to detect critical illnesses during emergency calls. This is to combat the ‘out of hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) which is one of the biggest killers in the UK. According to the NHS the survival rate of OHCA was at 8.6% in 2019.
The new AI technology acts as an assistant to emergency call-takers by listening in, taking notes and looking for critical signals in the call-taker’s descriptions. This type of AI could reduce over 40% of undetected cardiac arrest cases. Corti is trained on local historical calls to detect nuances in the Welsh dialect to provide a localised solution.
3 Fire Service
AI algorithms can help to predict deadly explosions within blazes before they occur and may be able to act as a warning system for firefighters fighting deadly buildings. Combustible materials can, in the heat of a fire, suddenly erupt into flames that spread across inner spaces, breaking windows and knocking down walls.
These are some of the most dangerous risks for firefighters. Traditionally the only way to predict these ‘flashovers’ is observation - which can be deceiving. The system which is being developed in the US is termed P-Flash and has been found to be 80% accurate in predicting imminent flashovers.
AI and its associated technologies are helping to increase the safety of both the public, and emergency service personnel. The real challenge for AI, however, is in having adequate decision support and sufficient staff trained in using the new technology - to ensure it’s used correctly, and without bias.
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