It’s estimated by 2021 there will be over 1.3 billion voice assistants listening in wait to help up with anything from our banking to public transit. The Lancashire police force have heard the wake up words of this digital future, and are looking to utilize voice assistants to notify residents of a crime in their area, help citizens find out the best way to report stolen or lost items, brief police at the beginning of their often staggered shifts, and even eventually be used to report crimes.
Law enforcement have been taking advantage of new technologies to streamline efficiency. Lancashire is the first force to implement voice assistant technology and things are moving fast. The first stage of implementation could be as early as February or March of this year, enabling Alexa to answer questions from the public such as “how do I report this?”, essentially keeping phone lines as precincts low, and efficiency high. Alexa could also be on the way to get blasts of crime reporting to the community in an easy and accessible manner.
According to the Daily Mail, Lancashire’s innovation lead Rob Flanagan came up with the idea after experimenting with the digital voice assistant to read nursery rhymes to his daughter. Perhaps if Little Miss Muffet had Alexa to alert her there were spiders in the area, she wouldn’t have been in for such a fright.
Although despite the excitement – Chief Constable Andy Rhodes likes it although he doesn’t own a smart speaker – there’s some fears and trepidation about eventually using Alexa as a crime reporting tool. The concerns arise from where these crime reports and information would be stored and if it’s appropriate to have it outside of a police system. “If you are asking people to report crime via Amazon and give personal details it would raise a whole raft of problems,” said Millie Graham Wood, legal officer at Privacy International, as quoted in the Daily Mail.