Editorial Feature

Using Sensors to Stop Crime

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For years, law enforcement and other organizations have been using sensor technology to deter, prevent and solve crimes. As sensor technology becomes more sophisticated, systems based on these sensors will only become more effective at reducing crime.

Developments in sensor technology are making it easier to spot suspicious activity, curtail risky behavior, track down suspects and lock up offenders. More sophisticated efforts are currently underway to address crime by leveraging state-of-the-art sensor technology sensor. Consider the following cutting-edge ways sensors are being used to stop crime.

Tickets and Tracking with Radar

More and more police departments are adopting the use of photo-radar systems. Photo-radar involves a camera taking a photograph of a vehicle found to be speeding by a radar system. A license plate reader (LPR) system identifies the vehicle and the police department mails a speeding ticket to the owner of the vehicle that includes the date, time, speed, location of the incident.

An LPR system can also be used to track a vehicle marked as stolen in the police database. National security agencies can also track vehicles linked those suspected of terrorism-related activities. Radar, cameras, and LPRs allow law enforcement to track these vehicles without engaging in a chase.

Sensor-Powered Big Data Solutions

Police are already making use of analytics software to develop maps that show ‘hot spots’ for crime, and sensor technologies can be used to strengthen the quality of data used to produce these maps and other insights.

One major difficulty in using data is a crime-related incident is only identified if it’s been reported to police. Since reporting rates tend to be significantly low, a lack of data is a serious obstacle in trying to use it to reduce crime.

Sensor networks can produce more objective and comprehensive datasets. For instance, acoustic gunshot sensors that identify the sound of gunfire in an explicit location and determine the location of an incident can not only immediately alert police, these sensors can also generate invaluable data.

The generation a strong dataset containing the full scope of gunfire incidents in a location is extremely useful to law enforcement and researchers who want to analyze the various effects of policy.

Sensing Dangerous Chemical Agents

Materials referred to as Metal-Organic Frameworks sensors (MOFs) could make it possible for a wide range of new crime prevention technologies.

MOFs are highly-adjustable and have been referred to as 'solid molecular sponges' because they have the capacity to absorb and react to many different solvents and gasses. They are produced from highly-permeable frameworks involving metal atoms are bridged by organic connector molecules. Sensor technology based on these materials could detect small amounts of key volatile organic compounds (VOCs), such as those associated with explosives.

MOF smart sensors could be used to safeguard society from crime and terrorism. Likely applications cover anything from wearable devices to anti-counterfeiting technologies. MOF sensors could also be used to identify toxic gases and other harmful substances in the environment.

Lowering Recidivism

There’s growing evidence that time in jail has a criminogenic impact on low-level offenders. Enhanced electronic surveillance techniques can mitigate this effect by allowing for a wider range of incarceration alternatives.

Rather than sending those found guilty for certain crimes to prison, they were sentenced to strong electronic surveillance, limiting them to house arrest or a work-and-home arrangement. Cameras, audio sensors, GPS tracking, blood-alcohol content monitors and other sensors could make certain the convicted person abides by their sentence.

Depending on the crime, criminal history and likely risk to the community, these folks might be permitted to leave their home for work, school or to visit family.

One concern might be that this kind of punishment has less of a deterring effect than prison does. For example, if the sentence for robbery is sitting on your couch, more people may be tempted to try it.

If authorities could determine how to preserve the deterring effects of sentences, surveillance tools could allow for incarceration alternatives that could be adjusted on a case-by-case basis, perhaps gradually rolling back surveillance as an offender gets ready to return to society.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the author expressed in their private capacity and do not necessarily represent the views of AZoM.com Limited T/A AZoNetwork the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and conditions of use of this website.

Brett Smith

Written by

Brett Smith

Brett Smith is an American freelance writer with a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Buffalo State College and has 8 years of experience working in a professional laboratory.


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