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The Internet and information technologies play a significant role in solving crime in the present day in either the streets or the cyberspace. Whether it is a digital forensic analyst at a police laboratory or a police officer at the crime scene, crime solving relies on technology during critical times, especially when each second counts. From Thermal Imaging Technology, GPS-Equipped Darts, the Recon Scout Throwbot, Gunshot Detection Systems to Flying Drones, this paper discussed these Internet-based crime-fighting technologies as used by security and law enforcement departments to solve crimes and protect the society.
Internet-Based Crime-Fighting Technologies
In view of the fact that police chase may be complicated by traffic and other unforeseeable factors, the United States officers employ special GPS-equipped darts which can be attached to fleeing motor vehicles and track its movement. In this respect, everyone is kept safe because the darts prevent high-speed pursuits that often get out of control and harm people or destroy property. The Austin Police Department (APD) uses a GPS vehicle tracking system called StarChase System to track suspect vehicles (Voeller, 2013). The system enhances safety of the officers and the public as well as leads to less violence. The darts are deployed from the police cars on the chase. Once they stick on the vehicles they are pursuing, the police officers back off and track them remotely since the device transmits real-time GPS information to the involved police department via a secure Internet connection (StarChase, n.d.). Besides reducing the risks and dangers related to police pursuits, GPS-equipped darts save money, time and most importantly, lives.
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In scenarios where it is extremely dangerous to send police officers into active scenes or where there is no clear line of sight, robotic cameras are applied. Throwable robotic cameras have motors and customized wheels, which allow the robot to climb, explore and move at the whim of an officer who operates it remotely. In such cases, most police departments send police dogs to scope out the dangers. Recently, emergency response teams from various police departments have used the Recon Scout Throwbot to give police officers an advantage when they cannot see a suspect clearly. The Recon Scout Throwbot is a robot on special wheels with sensors and a camera. It is operated wirelessly to serve as ears and eyes of the detectives. In Minneapolis, they are also used to detect bombs.
In the pursuit of the Boston bombing fugitive suspect, FLIR thermal imaging cameras were used by the Massachusetts State Police air wing to pick up and monitor the suspect’s heat signatures. The infrared cameras provide key identification clues that were used to confirm that the suspect was hiding in the boat. As noted by McElroy (2013), the State Police noted on social media that the infrared camera images were a vital part of the operation. A thermal imaging camera operator relayed the detailed of the suspect’s movements at the center of the night stand-off. Police officers also use thermal imaging cameras to detect whether bhang is grown inside a building with heat lamps (McElroy, 2013).
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As technology evolves, the theft of intelectual property and electronic devices rises. This calls for technologies that allow police officers and security agencies to track thieves across the country. For example, Assisted Patrol is a proactive surveillance digital device that aids in locating and minimizing crime in a given area (“Crime fighting technology: Putting the future in the patrol car,” 2014). The device is made for security deparment, law enforcement agencies and crime prevention entities that are committed to curb electronics thievery within their juisdiction. Security agencies and police alike can utilize such webbased devices to track thieves. The devices are integrated in patrol vehicles within a specific area and once the protected electronic device leaves the predefined area, police officers and security entities are alerted and the recovery process is initiated. Using Global Positioning System (GPS) signals transmitted from the device, its exact location can be determined. In turn, the officers can track and apprehend the thieves. Further, the hidden cameras on the device relay a profile of the offender arming the police with the facial ID of the suspect in their pursuit.
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Flying drones are no longer used by the military alone. Various police departments now use these remotely-controlled flying platforms to patrol high crime areas, chase suspect vehicles and get into sensitive settings such as drug cartels hideouts without warning suspect of their approach (Honeywell Aerospace, 2014). In settings infamous for gang related violence, major police departments install digitized noise detectors to automatically triangulate and relay gunshot details when they occur (SST, n.d.). These computerized gunshot detection systems enable the police and security organs to respond immediately when gunshots are registered, knowing the time and location the shots were fired. For example, ShotSpotter technology is currenty being used in North America, Central America and South America for the aforementioned purpose (SST, n.d.). Additionally, handlheld devices such as smartphones and tablets are increasingly being used by police departments to view area maps, photograph evidence, record witness statements, file reports and even sketch crime scenes. Other computer-based crime fighting technologies include fingerprint comparison, crime-mapping and DNA sampling. Social media also play a vital role in solving crimes. Computer forensic investigators use data analytics to track the activities of the suspects and their accomplice prior to committing a crime. Even the formatted hard drives and deleted messages leave data trails that can be uncovered by digital forensic analysts.
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From the above discussion, it is apparent that technology plays a critical role in fighting crime in the streets and in the cyberspace. Big city police departments are already deploying a variety of computer-based and Internet-enabled devices to identify and capture criminals. Some of the crime-fighting technologies that are increasingly gaining popularity include Throwable Robot Camera, Flying Drones, Gunshot Detection Systems (GDS), GPS-Equipped Vehicle Pursuit Darts and Thermal Imaging Cameras. Some of these technologies are comparatively uncontroversial, while others have astonished civil rights and privacy advocates.