How IoT is impacting law enforcement

Al Sisto

Blog by: Al Sisto - 22 / Oct / 2020

Law enforcement is an area that plays a fundamental role in ensuring that people are safe and secure. In their mission to reduce crime rates, law enforcement authorities are leveraging technologies to perform duties better and more efficiently, thereby freeing up officer time to fight crime on the front line.

In this blog we’re going to cover some of the areas where IoT is positively impacting law enforcement…


IoT applications in law enforcement

Using drones for better surveillance

Drones offer a new level of surveillance and provide an extra set of eyes when equipped with different camera types. Most advanced drones have the ability to track real-time footage, while others record and store the video on the cloud for later access. Certain drones even have technology that can zero in on specific targets (like people and animals).

Drones can also be used around the clock to monitor comings and goings in investigative situations. They can be used in suspect chases, search-and-rescue, to monitor large crowds at public events and many other situations. In addition, they allow law enforcement to monitor areas where officers are likely to be at risk if they were there in person.

IoT-enabled firearms

A number of companies are pioneering ‘IoT-enabled firearm’ technology. These are firearms that would be embedded with sensors to record information about how and when a weapon is used. There’s even hope that biometrics can be included as a form of authentication, which would prevent any unauthorised individual from activating the weapon. 

Yardarm is one such company. Its Holster Aware product works with any leading firearm and tracks important information through strategically optimised sensors. This includes comprehensive telemetry like holster state, weapon discharge, racking the slide, magazine insertion, weapon orientation, weapon jams, and magazine removals. Real-time alerts can then be sent to dispatch to automatically signal the need for backup.

Evidence gathering

The so called ‘Fitbit murder’ in 2017 demonstrated how wearable technology and IoT can help gather evidence in criminal cases. In this instance a husband was charged with his wife’s murder when data from her Fitbit contradicted his story and alibi.  

IoT is facilitating faster and easier evidence sourcing. Globally police forces are trained on what to look for at a crime scene and how to handle digital evidence. Virtual assistants like Amazon Alexa, gaming consoles  and wearables like smart watches and Fitbits are capturing and providing valuable information. When handled properly, this translates into better quality evidence delivered into the court system.

Wearables for law enforcement officers

All over the world today, officers are kitted out with body-worn video and audio to collect evidence when they attend incidents. These are proving invaluable as the officer is able to record exactly what happens in any incident for evidentiary purposes and to help with future actions. In addition, IoT devices are able to record the vital signs of the officer, ­such as heart rate and blood pressure, and alert dispatchers when officers are potentially in distress.

Police robots

Dubai police plan to have robotic officers make up a quarter of the force by 2030. Its prototype speaks six languages and is designed to read facial expressions. It has a computer touch screen where people can report a crime. The robot is deployed mainly to tourist spots and is equipped with a camera that sends live images back to police headquarters to identify wanted suspects.

In April 2020, to help ensure adherence to covid-19 lockdowns, a police robot was deployed to patrol areas of Tunisia's capital, Tunis. If it spies anyone walking in the largely deserted streets, it approaches them and asks why they are out. They must then show their ID and other papers to the robot's camera, so officers controlling it back at HQ can check them.

IoT on the street: Met Police develop mobile fingerprinting device

The Metropolitan Police has become the first British force to develop its own mobile fingerprinting device, in a move designed to save officers time and the public money.

The mobile biometric device, named INK (Identity Not Known) Biometrics, scans suspects’ fingerprints and will confirm their identity within 60 seconds if they are listed on police databases. This enables faster apprehension of wanted offenders and keeps officers on the beat for longer by avoiding the need to return to base to take suspects’ prints – which also frees up custody space at local stations.

The future of law enforcement and IoT

The law enforcement industry is continually looking for ways to improve speed, efficiency, accuracy, and communication – and the IoT can help with providing additional resources to serve and protect.

A UK report entitled ‘Policing and the Internet of Things’ looks at the potential of IoT  technology in law enforcement. Its authors concluded, “If the police can get to grips with the IoT now, they will not only be able to mitigate against the potential threats but will also be able to seize the opportunity. An IoT enabled police force would lead to increased efficiency and enhanced public safety.”


Topics: IoT, Law enforcement, Police technology

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