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September 27, 2017updated 14 Jul 2022 4:35am

Going digital to save lives: How AI, analytics & biometrics are transforming the emergency services

Innovative technology from Motorola Solutions is distributed across the UK police forces to better protect the public.

By April Slattery

The UK emergency services are a crucial part to everyday life, they keep us safe in times of need and save lives in endangering situations. Services are always under the eye of the public, to improve the way they operate and keep up their standards even if demand increases. Technology companies and household names are the ones coming through to help deliver more efficient emergency services to keep the public safe.

Motorola Solutions is just one company that is helping to keep the public safe using technology. The solutions company held an event in London to outline its latest products that will be distributed among police forces across the country, to make the UK a safer place and create a more efficient Police force.

Solutions will include the use of biometrics within the police force, using fingerprint recognition, facial recognition, and integrated application systems that help police deploy officers to urgent incidents.

It is becoming increasingly challenging for forces to do their jobs. Every day between 13,000 and 20,000 999 calls are made to Police emergency services, according to a report by Met Police. With that in mind, the pressure on Police Forces is increasing and technology seems to be the way forward to ensure the public are kept safe.

Over the last year, the UK along with other cities around the world has been victim to numerous incidents from London Bridge to Manchester Arena terror attacks. Following these disasters, Police forces are taking extra precautions, sending more officers out onto the streets and using technology to predict where and when the next event could take place.

Motorola Solutions’ technology explores how data and artificial intelligent solutions can improve and minimise the after effects in potentially dangerous situations by offering technology devices that can monitor the intensity of an incident, the likelihood of it advanced and effectively deploying enough officers to the scene

How can technology save emergency services 10,000 hours?

Ian Williams, West Yorkshire Police explains their use.

At the heart of the strategy, and why now 15 Police forces are using the digital technology is the public. Public safety is of the upmost importance for forces across the UK and using technology such as Pronto, Motorola Solutions’ smart application that helps forces meet digital agenda’s capturing visual data and sharing of information.

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West Yorkshire Police are just one of the forces that operate using Motorola Solutions technology in every day scenarios, enabling police to use the technology to better protect the community and themselves.

CBR spoke to Ian Williams, Digital Policing Lead at West Yorkshire Police, about how the technology has bettered the West Yorkshire police force, where he hopes to see the technology develop and the benefits the force see every day.

“The technology helps get lots of evidence through photos and videos to stop people going to court, victim prosecution can be done much quicker. In every aspect really, identification, solving crime quicker, identifying quicker and dealing with a lot of stuff without them needing to be involved because you’ve got the evidence there.”

Over the last few years, Police forces across England and Wales have lost around £1.7m a year in funding, according to a HMIC report. With this in mind, Williams described the cost effectiveness of digital technology as “The Million Dollar Question” and went on to explain that it was not just physical costs the force would benefit from, but savings in officer time.

“We’re spending 10,000 hours a month inputting data to systems. Using Pronto will affect every area of policing whether officers are in courts, on the street and or in stations. It will save time and reduce crime by having the ability to identify suspects, send data to a live system and go on to the next job.”

An area that holds the forces back, Williams believes, is the Government. With ever changing technology, Government laws are not keeping up and Williams said “Law isn’t keeping up with technology and the law is holding us back.”

Currently the law states that officers must contemporaneously write a report from suspects and read that out in court, rather than allowing officers to replay videos and images of incidents. Williams disagreed with this saying, “My view would be to record audio and video of conversations with suspects and play that in court which would be more effective. We need to get a grip of what technology can do and change the law.”

Another technology to be implemented in the future is the use of biometrics. Using biometric technologies will allow officers to take fingerprints at the scene of the crime and bring a database of the suspect straight to the device an officer is working on. By using such technology will keep communities safer by capturing the right criminal, by working more efficiently as incidents happen.

West Yorkshire Police hope to develop the technology they are already using over the next two years, including the use of biometrics. Face recognition software and finger print technology is the next thing the force and Motorola solutions want to implement into police forces, to better identify criminals and other surrounding data about them.

“I’m really looking forward to Pronto, integrating biometrics with what we’ve currently got,” Williams said, “Pronto captures the fingerprint on the device and when you send it off the device will bring back the check on a person, on a live database, checking police database and immigrant data base which is accessible in seconds.”

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Using the mobile application and tracking, Police can locate one another and call on more nearby officers if necessary to help solve a problem, they can send photos and videos to one another or the system and control rooms can send out the right officers to the right place at the right time.

Williams said: “For us, it’s keeping our officers out and about for longer than normal, the way they used to work is they’d print something to deal with a call to have as much info as possible. Now it’s all on hand, they have the ability to search the system using the applications and input the data on the app instead of at the station.”

In the future, Police forces hope that laws will change with the changing technology an enable a more effective system than what already exists. Until then, Ian Williams believes all the changes “have got to be a good thing” and using all the analytics with the technology allows him and his force to be at the scene before anything can happen.

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