TECH WATCH: Amazon Alexa Fights Crime in the UK
Lancashire Police experiment with new app for Echo devices
Amazon’s innovative Echo smart speaker has many uses that make life within the domestic setting much simpler – and now thanks to experiments within UK law enforcement it could be keeping our homes much safer, too.
Since launching in September 2016, the Echo has been hugely successful within the UK consumer market and with the estimated 9% of UK households that already own one expected to increase to as much as 40% in 2018, we can expect the rising trend to continue spreading well into the future.
Featuring a voice activated AI assistant named Alexa, the Echo can do any number of interesting things ranging from taking down and ordering shopping lists to managing the user’s daily diet and controlling the numerous IoT appliances located throughout the home.
For Lancashire Police, however, they believe that the Echo also has the potential to improve public safety by becoming an information hub for criminal activity and crime-related news within the local community.
Like a neighbourhood watch for the modern world, the police are currently testing how Echo could be used to transmit details of missing persons reports, crime bulletins and notifications of wanted criminals at large in the surrounding area to aid police cooperation and keep lawbreaking at bay.
In addition to this, it is believed the Echo can also be used by the police force to improve internal communications by sending out real-time updates of nearby incidents, and there is even the suggestion that victims could use the speaker to report crimes directly from their homes without having to call in from their phones.
“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.” – Lancashire Constabulary’s Lead for Innovation & Collaboration, Rob Flanagan, speaking at the College of Policing Conference.
As well as alleviating the stresses put on busy police contact centres by reducing the number of calls they receive, this new strategy also ensures the police force are able to meet the evolving demands of a modern generation that no longer wishes to communicate over the telephone.