Law enforcement agencies are increasing the high tech available to their officers and it’s starting in Georgia with Google Glass.
The Byron, Georgia police department is on the cutting edge of internet technology in their role of law enforcement. They are testing a new piece of high-tech equipment, Google Glass. While the officers involved in the testing report that the technology doesn’t block their vision while driving or shooting, they do admit to getting some funny looks from citizens.
Those curious looks will probably be found in more cities around America as law enforcement agencies nationwide go high tech and add the wearable devices to their bag of tricks.
Chosen by Google in 2013 to beta-test its touted Google Glass, the testers also include people with a large Twitter following, bloggers who write for tech-related sites and celebrities such as Neil Patrick Harris and even Georgia’s Newt Gingrich.
So far it seems to be a double standard when it comes to law enforcement wearing them. A woman was pulled over in San Diego and ticketed for wearing her Google Glass while driving down the highway.
A small group of tech companies descended on the International Association of Chiefs of Police Conference in Philadelphia recently to show off their apps for Google Glass. Setting up the glasses with the right software could allow cops to do things like live stream videos back to headquarters of car stops and other citizen contacts and get instant information, such as photos, arrest histories and addresses fed back to them.
Not Just Google Glass
Google Glass isn’t the only piece of high tech to be shown to law enforcement lately. Many feel that the high tech world which cops are about to enter could be a nice asset, especially dealing with officer safety. Computers, worn like wrist watches, a waterproof PC and on-body video cameras are just a few of the high-tech toys being sold to sheriff and police departments nationwide.
Industry experts predict that a wide range of heart-rate and activity sensors that monitor the officers physiological reactions to situations will be integrated into helmets, headsets and clothing so that reactions can be monitored as the cop perform dangerous and stressful missions.
The largest growth niche in wearable technology are body-worn cameras, which are predicted to bring in between $3 and $5 million dollars in revenue this year. That number is expected to grow to between $30 and $50 million in the US alone over the next five years.
The miniature cameras now in use don’t resemble the versions used by science fiction cops on the silver screen though. When clipped to an officer’s lapel or shirt pocket, the tiny cameras allegedly serve to protect officers from citizen complaints.
The Byron Police Department spokesman says that cops using video is about capturing everything that is occurring around the officer. Before that can happen though, improvements need to be made in the technology. There are many nuances that an officer on the scene might be able to pick up that are unseen by video, regardless of how high tech.
“Those subtleties, which can make a difference between life and death on the street, are virtually impossible to pick up on camera,” said Sid Heal, chairperson for strategy and development at the National Tactical Officers Association as well as retired commander of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. No Glass, no matter how cutting edge, can solve that field-of-vision problem. Law enforcement, with its high levels of risk and stress, is quickly becoming a professional proving ground for both the most novel and most practical concepts fashioned from the wearable tech era.
As more testing is done, Americans will probably see more law enforcements agencies go high tech.
By Jerry Nelson