October 23, 2017
New Dashcam’s in the USA to spot suspects before police6 min read
Police cars may one day spot suspects before the officer behind the wheel does. Coban Technologies, a Houston-based company that sells cameras to police departments, announced recently that there’s a new dashcam designed to use artificial intelligence to identify everything from people and vehicles to guns. The dashcam’s features are currently limited, but the underlying technology sets the table for law enforcement to use advanced technology to make better sense of video data.
Coban Technologies is following the Silicon Valley playbook of making its camera a platform. Third-party developers will be able to create specific capabilities for the camera, such as software that identifies weapons.
This department is testing one of the dashcams as a way to better serve the community. For example, it is envisioned that the LAPD will use the smart dashcam to perform tasks such as analyzing traffic stops so that officers can be better trained.
Gomez said the department might also incorporate facial recognition technology in the future, following a dialogue with the local community, over civil liberties concerns. One hurdle is that a dashboard-mounted camera doesn’t always have a direct view of a person’s face, which is necessary to identify those of interest. Coban plans to develop facial recognition technology for the camera in the near future.
Coban’s technology is designed to work with up to six cameras, so police departments could choose to turn their vehicles into 360-degree cameras, making it easier to identify faces. Police vehicles today in the states generally only have a single camera on the dashboard.
The technology also allows for immediate, automated analysis of videos. For example, a feature that alerts officers when someone approaches their vehicle.
The technology raises questions about privacy and the “big brother” nature of facial recognition technology.With a network of smart cameras, governments could potentially track the location of every citizen, even if they’re not suspected of wrongdoing. Earlier this year, the U.S. Government Accountability Office issued a report critical of the FBI’s use of facial recognition technology.
But police departments, including Los Angeles, are interested in how artificial intelligence can help cut down on crime. The LAPD has over 3.3 million videos filmed from in-car cameras, and 2.5 million videos from body cameras. Once the department finishes rolling out body cameras, it will collect about 8,500 videos from them per day. The technology creates another way for police to automatically identify vehicles. Many use license-plate reading cameras today, but Coban’s dashcam identifies vehicles even if a license plate can’t be seen, allowing officers to focus on other tasks.