How Smart Cities Help Law Enforcement Agencies Deter Crime and Rebuild Community Relationships
Smart city technologies will help in the creation of smarter police forces. Over the past several years, the introduction of public safety technologies in urban areas across the United States has provided law enforcement with the tools they need to not only deter crime but to build better relationships with their communities.
Embracing smart city policing can help departments become more efficient, save time in staff hours, take the pressure off of officers, and ultimately help law enforcement better protect and serve their communities.
Smart Cities Explained
A smart city is one where information technology and communications systems are integrated with IoT sensors and devices to create a network that enhances city services and operations for its citizens.
As the director of a public safety agency in a city, you want to implement better ways to interact directly with your citizens and monitor what’s happening at any given time, while reducing costs to stay under budget. That can be a tough task for even the most efficient and effective public safety officials. Smart city applications have been developed to streamline operations within cities and improve real-time decision-making by those in charge of protecting citizens during a crisis.
Take your fire department as an example. IoT sensors at fire stations enable the automation of bay doors and the automatic turnoff of machines when the alarm is sounded. This cuts down on firefighter response times and helps them save lives. On a larger scale, when this information is integrated with IoT devices in building control systems and municipal grids, a city’s fire and rescue operations become even more intelligent still. Sensors in buildings can trigger alarms that connect directly to your city’s firehouses, alerting them to emergency situations.
Smart Cities Aid in Community Engagement by Law Enforcement
According to a report from the McKinsey Global Institute, smart city police technologies have the potential to reduce crime by 30-40%, shorten emergency response times by law enforcement officers by 20-35%, and lessen fatalities from homicide and traffic accidents by 8-10%. This is encouraging news for public safety officials who want to better protect their citizens.
But smart cities also aid law enforcement agencies in building better relationships with their communities. Law enforcement officials should engage in conversations within their communities about their citizens’ top priorities when it comes to crime, but innovations such as concealed weapons detection technology will go a long way in giving officers the tools to identify risks without having to implement policies such as stop-and-frisk, which some community activists and citizens identify as a problem.
Concealed weapons detection technology relies on sensors and artificial intelligence to identify those attempting to carry dangerous weapons in public buildings such as government offices and schools. Traditional screening methods for weapons are intrusive and lead to citizens thinking of the police as the bad guys. Proactive weapons detection, on the other hand, helps police assess threats more accurately by providing better real-time intelligence and data.
No law enforcement officer wants to needlessly harass citizens, and when cities implement concealed weapons detection technology as part of their effort to make a smarter city, they don’t have to.
The Future of Smart Policing
Most city officials and public safety agencies understand the benefits of computer-aided dispatch (CAD) systems that integrate mission-critical communications, but what about a completely automated dispatch system? Smart city police departments in the future may have access to such technologies as self-driving police cruisers, biometric monitoring of field officer health and safety, and augmented reality (AR) wearables.
While law enforcement agencies shouldn’t expect these technologies to arrive all at once, they are being adopted by city officials and directors of public safety agencies to help police officers better perform their vital job functions.
Robots, IoT sensors, and high-speed cameras with automatic license plate readers (APLRs) are already being deployed in crime prevention. After the police department in Eden Prairie, Minnesota purchased 13 APLRs in 2021 thanks to a state-wide grant, they were able to thwart a car thief after his plate was picked up by one of their new APLR cameras.
Robots have been utilized by police departments as far back as 2013 when the Boston Police Department deployed them to apprehend the criminals responsible for the Boston Marathon Bombings.
Additionally, in many police departments across the country, purpose-built 5G routers and antennas in law enforcement vehicles provide command centers and dispatchers with vital information. Outfitting your police vehicle fleet with the right mobile networking equipment enables dispatchers to view routine traffic stops in real-time, alerting them via sensors to the location of officers outside their vehicles, as well as actions such as the drawing of a firearm, so they can quickly send backup if necessary.
The future of policing is indeed in technology. Independent research and consulting firms predict that by 2026, law enforcement software and hardware spending for the modern smart city is likely to reach $22.1 billion. This would be an increase from $12.6 billion in 2020.
Investing in Smart City Police
If you’re a police department or city official, now is the time to begin investing in smart city policing. When it comes to leadership and keeping your community safe, you want to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to embracing new technologies.
Importantly, smart city policing is not intended to replace officers. As with any technology, this is often a very real fear. Rather, because of these technologies, police will have more time for engaging with members of their communities.
“Community Policing,” as Houston’s former mayor Lee P. Brown put it, “is a collaborative partnership between the police and law-abiding citizens designed to prevent crime, arrest offenders, solve neighborhood problems, and improve the quality of life in a community.”
Police officers are asked to do a lot: they are tasked with filling in the gaps when other social services in a city fail to provide them. The hope is that with the improved technology of the smart city, officers can engage in more Community Policing, and less in solving all the problems that hold back the development of modern cities.
MCA for Smart Policing Technology
We have over 30 years of experience working with public safety agencies and police departments across the country. Our team offers top-tier support and solutions from premier channel partners such as Motorola Solutions and Avtec.
Contact MCA below to learn more about our smart technologies for your police department.