Adam Bannister

Editor, IFSEC Global

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Adam Bannister is editor of IFSEC Global. A former managing editor at Dynamis Online Media Group, he has been at the helm of the UK's leading fire and security publication since 2014.
January 8, 2018

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Integrated thinking: Connected security for smart infrastructure

POLICE INNOVATION

“Alexa, I have a crime to report”: Amazon Echo to become crime-reporting tool

Lancashire Police are exploiting soaring sales of the Amazon Echo to open up a cost-effective channel for crime reporting at a time of budgetary austerity.

The force has announced that people will soon be able to report crime via the smart speaker, which is equipped with voice-operated digital assistant Alexa. Police officers will also issue daily crime bulletins into people’s homes.

They could share information about missing persons, wanted suspects in the area, and the number of officers on duty. Officers themselves could be targeted in their homes with updates on daily crime logs or breaking incidents.

“If we can reduce demand into our call centres via the use of voice recognition or voice-enabled technology and actually give the community the information they need without them needing to ring into police, then that’s massive,” Rob Flanagan, Lancashire Force’s innovation lead, told the College of Policing conference.

However, the force will have to address privacy concerns about reporting crimes anonymously given that crime reports would be stored on Amazon servers.

Like Apple, Amazon has form for not cooperating with police investigations. In January 2017, the retail giant refused to share information stored on its servers requested as part of an Arizona Police murder investigation.

The police aren’t the only cash-strapped public service or organisation that sees AI as a way of maintaining service quality in the face of funding cuts. Enfield Council, for instance, is using IPsoft’s cognitive virtual agent Amelia to guide residents through the complex local planning permission process.

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