Future Police Cameras Will Identify Suspects

Coban Technologies, a Houston-based company that sells cameras to police departments, announced this week a new dashcam designed to use artificial intelligence to identify everything from people and vehicles to guns.

The dashcam’s features are currently limited, but the underlying technology sets the table for law enforcement to use advanced technology to make better sense of video data.

Departments envision using the smart dashcam to perform tasks such as analyzing traffic stops so that officers can be better trained.

The department might also incorporate facial recognition technology in the future, following a dialogue with the local community, over civil liberties concerns.

Coban’s technology is designed to work with up to six cameras, so police departments could choose to turn their vehicles into 360-degree cameras. Police vehicles today generally only have a single camera on the dashboard.

The tech also allows for immediate, automated analysis of videos raising questions about privacy and the “big brother” nature of facial recognition technology. With a network of smart cameras, governments could potentially track the location of every citizen, even if they’re not suspected of wrongdoing. Earlier this year, the U.S. Government Accountability Office issued a report critical of the FBI’s use of facial recognition technology.

But police departments, including Los Angeles, are interested in how artificial intelligence can help cut down on crime. The LAPD has over 3.3 million videos filmed from in-car cameras, and 2.5 million videos from body cameras. Once the department finishes rolling out body cameras, it will collect about 8,500 videos from them per day.

However, analyzing footage has historically been a lengthy process. Coban’s technology would be instantaneous.

Coban Technologies CEO Doug Dickerson said there’s a waiting list of departments around the country who want to test the new dashcam. Los Angeles is an early adopter of new technologies such as drones and big data.

The technology creates another way for police to automatically identify vehicles. Many use license-plate reading cameras today, but Coban’s dashcam identifies vehicles even if a license plate can’t be seen, allowing officers to focus on other tasks.