Smart law enforcement and smart policing means using people, processes, intelligence and information sharing in innovative ways, including new tools and technologies. Of course, every technology brings new challenges as well as new innovations. For example, the increasing theft of smartphones and tablets worldwide, led to the ability to secure the IPhone 5S with fingerprint biometrics.   Imagine a future where your personal information was protected from unauthorized access, and products could easily become inoperable very quickly if they were stolen.  Theft and crime around such devices would go down, because it would fail to pay off for the perpetrators.  As a result, businesses, communities and public safety would have more economic resources –including time and personnel – to address other more important challenges.

In my last blog “Connecting the Unconnected in Public Safety Response”,  I highlighted three examples of how The Internet of Things (IoT) technologies are new tools being used today for public safety that are making communities safer.  The Internet of Things (IoT) is the next technology transition where devices will allow us to sense and control the physical world by making objects smarter and connecting them through an intelligent network.  IoT is all about Connecting the Unconnected.   So let’s talk about a few more recent public safety challenges and use cases and how IoT technologies are already helping and going to help a lot more as they become more widely used.

Gangs, Crime, Flash Mobs:   Let’s take a quick look at recent stories about impact of social media in Los Angeles and Chicago.

The recent story about Los Angeles highlights significant challenges for public safety with gangs, and the use of social media and provides insights to the tools that are helping.   ABC local news featured a story about the recent flash mob of 30 to 40 people who used social media to organize a group who ran through Hollywood Boulevard stealing pursues and mobile phones.   Bullet points from the article, by Cmdr. Andrew Smith with the LAPD provide key insights:

  • “The problem is when these flash mobs are used to commit mayhem and chaos,” said Cmdr. Andrew Smith with the LAPD.
  • “It really overwhelms the police resources for a short period of time and it’s awful tough to catch them too and predict where they’re going to be unless somebody tips us off,” said Smith.
  • “Each of our geographic area has someone that is designated as the person to monitor the social media in the area,” said Smith.

From the article:  “But while technology can present challenges, it can also help solve crimes. The LAPD is turning to its surveillance cameras stationed on several street corners in Hollywood to help them identify others who took part in Tuesday’s crime spree.”

  • “Surveillance cameras are a terrific asset for us when it comes to solving these crimes,” said Smith.

On September 17th, 2013, Ben Austen wrote a story called Public Enemies: Social Media Is Fueling Gang Wars in Chicago .  The story highlighted the challenges of Gangs and Social Media for the City of Chicago, where more than 500 people were murdered last year, with an estimated 70,000 gang members, in 850 cliques.   The article focuses on efforts and insights about understanding this problem, lessons learned, and insights toward building a safer and better community. With the average economic cost of a murder reported at $17.5M, per homicide, in this study by The Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology, 500 homicides, per year, represents $8,750,000,000 of economic value, per year, for the United States as a nation, the neighboring communities and the city of Chicago.

Multivendor LTE / P25 Public Safety Communications Interoperability

Like many public safety agencies –  state, and local government, federal, and ministries of defense – Orange County, FL. public safety network faced significant with challenges of not being able to easily “Connect To, Communicate with, and Interoperate with” other multi-vendor P25 and non-P25 radio networks and/or LTE networks, using a complete suite of open standards-based P25 public safety interoperable communications with their existing P25 radio system. They needed P25 Public Safety communications capabilities and they also needed a way to easily communicate to other law enforcement agencies using P25 networks and other radio systems networks.  The IoT solution to solve this problem is Cisco’s IP Interoperability and Collaboration System (IPICS) that provides a  P25 ISSI/CSSI/DFSI P25 open standards based solution, together with industry leading partner Etherstack, who provides open standards-based P25 protocol support.  Mark Gonsalves from the Cisco team gives a brief overview of the P25 ISSI network capabilities used by Orange County Public Safety in this short video from Cisco Live in Orlando.

Cisco IPICS was also used to help provide capabilities for the world’s first use of multi-vendor public safety LTE interoperable communications  network used in a National Special Security Event to enable voice, video and data for public safety and was supported by consortium comprised of Cisco, Raytheon, Nokia Siemens Networks, Reality Mobile and Amdocs who successfully deployed the nation’s first demonstrated multi-vendor interoperable Public Safety Long Term Evolution (LTE) network during the Republican National Convention (Convention).     A brief video story called “Changing the Game at a National Security Event”  was developed to highlight the outcomes and benefits for public safety.

Changing The Game
Changing The Game! – Click to learn more.

Unlike traditional approaches, by using IoT technologies to “connect the unconnected” to provide multi-vendor interoperable public safety communications capabilities with P25 / LTE and other networks, communities are able to cost effectively improve public safety capabilities and keep communities safer.

Integrated Video Surveillance, used as a law enforcement force multiplier

Integrated video surveillance tools can also help cities, parks, city areas of business, parking and  transportation systems become much safer, provide an effective force multiplier for the law enforcement problem.  By connecting audio communications to video surveillance, for example, law enforcement can much more easily communicate directly to citizens at the right time, to support safe civic activities and support public safety more effectively and efficiently.

Law enforcement can  change the behavior of people who may be entering city parks unlawfully, after hours or in restricted or hazardous areas by having the ability to “instantly” and “immediately” communicate to citizens in real time, – this can change people’s behavior, and thus create a safer community.  The smart device or sensor in this case is camera, but now it is has the ability to communicate under the officer’s control and can help stop crime and while saving valuable law enforcement resources.  The camera is now a smart endpoint on the network  (a sensor on the network) also has the ability to analyze, sense, listen and communicate with people, when needed.  Cisco Instant Connect, for example, allows secure mobile devices to talk directly to cameras, and listen to microphones attached to cameras.  Cisco’s Smart endpoints i.e. IP Video cameras also now support other analytics applications, for example, the ability to detect “glass breaking”, “shots being fired”,  and other acoustic patterns, with applications that can be added to cameras, as needed.  In a technology demonstration (not a yet shipping product) of what is possible in the future, in this brief video from  “Rick the Radio Guy” from Cisco shows the ability of Cisco Instant Connect to talk to and listen to IP Cameras directly from an Android mobile device.

Gangs, the rise of crime, the use of social media, and new technologies have created new challenges for communities and public safety.    By using new IoT enabled technologies,  public safety – through people, processes, intelligence and information sharing –  can more effectively and efficiently keep communities safer.