The chase gets a lot easier for tech-wielding cops now
From algorithm-based apps that can identify gangs, to ones that gather information from breaking news, the police are going increasingly high-tech.
Instead of combing through old news reports and files to get information on a person or organisation, intelligence departments in Punjab are now using an app that generates insights from scores of news websites, said Gurmeet Singh Chauhan, assistant inspector general (organised crime control unit), Punjab police.
The app, called PINE (Police Intelligence News Extractor) has been developed by Gurugram-based artificial intelligence (AI) startup Staqu. It can analyse mentions of a subject like the Khalistan movement, for example, on news websites and social media to assess which areas are likely to be crime-prone, said Staqu founder Atul Rai. Police in Uttarakhand and UP have been using PINE on a pilot basis, said Rai, adding that intelligence departments in Telangana have also been using the app.
For developing situations, cops earlier had to manually track breaking news from various channels. Now, the software reads headlines and tickers off news channels using optical character recognition (OCR) and generates reports almost instantly.
Telangana's police forces have been using a mobile app called TSCOP, which provides insights like which areas are times of the day are accident-prone, crime-prone or even water-logging prone using data analytics, said Ravi Gupta, additional deputy inspector general (technical services) of Telangana police.
It then generates "crime maps" using GIS (geographical information systems), which indicate which areas are more likely to experience eve-teasing or pick-pocketing, for example, he said. This helps the police plan which routes to patrol, and at what time. Gupta said there had been a reduction in crimes like pickpocketing as a result.
The Delhi police also maps crimes, and additional deputy commissioner Shobhit Saxena said there has been a marked reduction in the number of night calls that report street crimes as a result, in the months since the system was implemented. The Delhi police has GPSenabled bikes that track the route police patrol, he said.
The traditional image of police tying threads between various players to identify links is becoming obsolete. Staqu's app used by Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab and Rajasthan combs through information and identify links between accomplices and helps them identify gangs.
Lock-ups in Delhi are also being enabled with cameras that can be programmed to set off a buzzer when unusual motion is detected at night, said Saxena. This can prevent prison breakouts, he said.