Are police body cameras collecting too much data?

Police body cameras are starting to become a necessity to stop the surge in complaints from U.S. citizens, who want law enforcement to be more accountable and reduce the violence committed by officers.

In Rialto, California, a study by Barak Ariel, a experimental criminology lecturer at the University of Cambridge showed that body cameras reduce complaints by 87 percent and use of force dropped by 59 percent.

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Even with this huge drop in animosity between law enforcement and citizens in the city, Taser, the creator of the body cameras, believes there is more to be done to make the system better and more efficient.

Trevin Chow, director of product management at Taser, said that smart technology is necessary to sift through the massive amounts of data being accumulated by all of the police cameras.

Speaking at the Wearable Technologies show in San Francisco, Chow revealed that Taser stores 3.5 petabytes (one million gigabytes) of data and a file is uploaded every 12 seconds to its database. That’s with only 30 cities in the U.S. adopting the camera tech.

For this data to be useful, Taser needs to create systems to single out issues that need addressing. It has plans to trigger cameras to take videos when a police officer steps outside a car, removes a shotgun from the rack, or turns a Taser on, which should provide law enforcement overseers with indications of action in the field.

Taser is also working on machine learning and language processing programs to make recognizing excessive use of force or aggressive interactions with the public even easier for overseers.

“We’re investing in more than just a camera. We’re looking at computer vision, natural language processing, and machine transcription to really look at this area, to see how effective we can make these solutions. We need to offer more than cameras to make communities safer,” said Chow at the event.

It is a difficult balance for law enforcement between reducing incidents involving excessive use of tasers and police brutality, and making officers feel like they’re the bad guys. Cameras seem like a good way forward, but the future Taser is proposing might be too much for some in the force.

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