Category Archives: TECHNOLOGY

Hi-tech cameras to snag drivers using their mobiles AUSTRALIA

DISTRACTION is one of the leading causes of fatal road crashes in Australia but new hi-tech detection cameras that catch drivers using their mobile phones without them even knowing could soon change everything.

A New South Wales Police spokesman told news.com.au that officers currently “use a variety of methods to detect drivers using their phones while driving”.

“Line-of-site, by trained officers is the primary method of detection, however, long-ranged cameras have been used with success, and helmet cameras in motorcycle police continue to be used,” the spokesman said.

But that technology could soon be replaced by fixed position cameras that automatically issue an infringement notice without the driver even realising they’ve been sprung.

NSW Police Highway Patrol boss, Assistant Commissioner Mick Corboy, told the Nine News there were “emerging technologies coming out”.

“So the way we are going to defeat this is by video evidence, by photographic evidence and we are looking at everything possible around the world at the moment and we think we’ll get something in place fairly quickly,” Mr Corboy said.

His comments came after NSW Minister for Roads Melinda Pavey put out a call on Tuesday for potential providers to present “practical, technology-based solutions to address the problem” of mobile phone use in cars.

“Developing this technology would be a world-first and is one of the priorities of our Road Safety Plan 2021 that we announced,” Mrs Pavey said.

As part of the Road Safety Plan 2021, the NSW Government outlined its plans to implement legislative changes to allow camera technology to enforce mobile phone use offences.

Mrs Pavey said the Road Transport Legislation Amendment (Road Safety) Bill 2018 was introduced into the NSW Legislative Assembly on March 6, 2018. NSW is the first jurisdiction to introduce such legislation in Australia.

Last year, NSW Police handed out about 42,000 fines to drivers caught on their mobile phones, with the distraction increasingly emerging as a factor in fatal crashes over the past decade.

In February this year, serial texter Jakob Thornton, was allegedly engrossed in his phone when he ploughed into a roadside breath test in southwest Sydney, seriously injuring two officers.

Senior Constable Jonathon Wright had his foot and part of his lower leg amputated and Senior Constable Matthew Foley suffered a broken leg.

Alex McCredie demonstrates how the hi-tech cameras that can detect drivers using mobile phones work. Picture: Mark Stewart.

According to National Road Safety Partnership Program (NRSPP) Manager Jerome Carslake, the most common causes of road fatalities and car accidents occasioning serious harm are fatigue, speed, distraction (including mobile phones), and alcohol or drugs.

During the 12 months ending in February 2018, there were 1249 road deaths across Australia. That was a 0.2 per cent decrease compared to the total for the 12-month period ending February 2017.

In 2016, 1300 lives were lost on roads nationwide, which was an increase of nearly 8 per cent on the previous year (1205).

Mr Corboy said in a statement earlier this month that too many people made “poor decisions” while driving. “Every fatal crash is a tragedy for not only those involved, but for the families they leave behind,” he said.

“The most frustrating part about it is that most crashes are preventable if people slow down and take responsibility on our roads.”

In NSW, motorists caught using a mobile phone while driving can be slapped with a $330 fine and a loss of four demerit points, regardless of whether they’re repeat offenders or not.

The Australian Capital Territory has some of the toughest laws in the country, with a fine of $528 and loss of four demerit points for a driver caught texting or using social media behind the wheel.

Like the ACT, Western Australia also has a separate specific offence for motorists caught texting while driving. “WA Police Force is constantly looking for new ways to target offences frequently linked to serious and fatal crashes on our roads, including inattention through mobile phone use,” a WA Police spokesman told news.com.au.

“The penalty for using a mobile phone while driving is $400 and three demerit points.”

This driver was booked by Acting Sargeant Paul Stanford for using a mobile phone while driving in Brisbane City and copped a $378 fine. Picture: Jamie Hanson.

In Queensland, motorists can be fined $378 and have three demerit points recorded against their traffic history if they are caught holding a mobile phone for any reason while driving – that includes when they’re stopped at traffic lights or in congested traffic.

Learner and P1 drivers are prohibited from using hands free, wireless headsets or a mobile phone’s loudspeaker function. “At this time the QPS does not have technology to detect drivers using mobile phones,” a QLD Police spokesman told news.com.au.

Double demerit points apply for second or subsequent mobile phone offences committed within one year after an earlier offence.

A hi-tech camera which can detect people using their mobile phones while driving was trialled in Melbourne last year. Picture: Mark Stewart.

A red-light style camera capable of photographing drivers illegally using their mobile phones was trialled in Melbourne, Victoria last year. The technology – touted as a world first – detected 272 culprits during a five-hour test across just one lane of the Eastern Freeway, the Herald Sun reported.

The trial revealed that 7.1 per cent of the drivers observed infringed phone use laws. And 65.8 per cent of those offences related to motorists actively using their phone by holding it or touching it in a cradle. Authorities said in December last year that they were always looking at ways to improve road safety but had no current plans to introduce the technology.

This driver was booked for using his mobile phone whilst driving in Brisbane. Picture: Jamie Hanson.

A South Australia Police spokesman told news.com.au the state “doesn’t yet have any technologies to assist in the detection of driving while using mobile phones”.

As of November 11, 2017, the fine for using a mobile phone while driving was $327 plus a $60 government levy – totalling $387 coupled with three demerit points. Drivers are permitted to touch their phones only if they are making or receiving a call on a device mounted to the vehicle.

“To avoid doubt, nothing … authorises a person to use a mobile phone by pressing a key on the device, or by otherwise manipulating the body or screen of the phone, if the phone is not secured in a mounting affixed to the vehicle,” the legislation reads.

The SA Police spokesman said it was “lawful to pull over to the side of the road to a place where it is legal to stop and make or receive a telephone call”.

“There is no requirement to turn off the engine,” he said. “Although the rule that relates to mobile telephones does not say that the vehicle must be in an area where it is legal to park, other Australian Road Rules come into play.

“To put that into perspective, it is not legal to park at a set of traffic lights, therefore it is unlawful to use a hand held phone while stationary at those lights.”

Acting Sargeant Paul Stanford speaks to a motorist in Brisbane City.

Henry Sapiecha

Police in South Australia adopting facial-recognition technology

keypoint-facial-recognition-software-illo-csse-uwa image www.policesearch.net

The South Australian government has awarded NEC Australia with a AU$780,000 contract to implement facial-recognition technology as of late October for the state’s police force in an effort to make it easier to identify persons of interest and missing persons.

The facial-recognition technology allows police to compare images of suspects from such sources as closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage against offender databases. In future, the technology has the capacity to instantly identify people on real-time CCTV footage, but this feature won’t be used on launch.

According to Police Minister Peter Malinauskas, the technology will be rolled out by late October as part of a state government push to reduce crime by boosting police numbers and resources.

“Our police budget is at the highest level in history, with more front-line police soon to be on the beat than ever before,” Malinauskas said on Monday.

“The world we live in is changing, and with that comes a need to change the way we police.”

The South Australian government’s decision to deploy facial identification follows the Northern Territory’s implementation of the technology in September last year.

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The success of the technology in the Northern Territory, which was also implemented by NEC Australia, influenced South Australia to adopt it, South Australia Police Superintendent Scott Allison said.

“They’ve had extraordinary results from CCTV images that they’ve captured, through to enhanced investigations, even historical investigations,” Allison said.

Northern Territory Police partnered with NEC Australia almost a year ago to implement facial-recognition technology, deploying NEC’s NeoFace Reveal solution following a trial of the tech in early 2015. The technology allows NT Police to search through its database of photos, CCTV footage, and videos taken from phones, drones, and body-worn cameras to compare to the police database of photos.

In April this year, NEC Australia also secured a AU$52 million contract with Australian law-enforcement technology agency CrimTrac to replace the National Automated Fingerprint Identification System (NAFIS) in 2017.

The system will involve not only fingerprints, but also palm prints and facial recognition.

“The Biometric Identification System (BIS) will not only integrate with existing law-enforcement systems, but advance as our nation’s biometric capability advances,” Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Counter Terrorism Michael Keenan said in a statement at the time.

“This is vital in the current national security landscape, because it is essential to have robust and efficient cross-border information sharing to support the law enforcement agencies that protect our communities.

“It’s also vital our authorities are one step ahead of the sophistication of organised criminal syndicates who are adopting new and advanced technologies to exploit Australians and increase the misery they peddle.”

The Australian government had allocated AU$700,000 to CrimTrac as part of its 2015 Budget for the development of the facial recognition system.

The federal government also announced last year that it would spend AU$18.5 million to establish the National Facial Biometric Matching Capability for image-sharing purposes by government and law-enforcement agencies, which was expected to be up and running by mid-2016.

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Henry Sapiecha

“The Alternative” puts the brakes on bullets fired from police sidearms. Pics & Video

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Aiming for a leg or shooting a weapon from a criminal’s hands may be an option for cops in the movies, but real police officers are trained to shoot for the center of mass, not necessarily to kill, but to stop – although the end result can often be one and the same. “The Alternative” is designed to give officers a less lethal option in the form of a clip-on “air bag” for semiautomatic pistols that reduces the velocity of a standard round to make it less lethal.

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Developed by Alternative Ballistics of Poway, California, the Alternative is designed to improve the chances of imparting a stopping force on the target without penetrating or causing lethal damage.

Based in part on feedback from law enforcement and special forces, the Alternative consists of a plastic carrier that normally sits in a belt pouch. It’s designed to fit over the muzzle of a semiautomatic pistol, with installation a one-handed operation that doesn’t require the officer to look away from the situation. The carrier is designed not to interfere with the pistol’s sights or under-barrel rail, which may carry a torch or laser sight.

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At the front of the bright orange carrier is a hollow sphere made of a proprietary alloy that catches the bullet and firmly embeds it as it leaves the barrel. The ball and bullet fuse, slowing the round by 80 percent. At this speed, the ball-encased round is less likely to penetrate flesh, but it will transfer enough kinetic energy across a wide surface to knock a suspect down with less chance of a lethal outcome. Essentially, it’s like a small, powerful bean-bag round, which Alternative Ballistics claims is as accurate as a standard pistol round.

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After firing, the carrier is ejected as the pistol chambers another round, which allows the police officer to immediately fire a second, lethal round if needed. If the Alternative ends up not being required, it’s easily removed and returned to its pouch.

Alternative Ballistics not only provides the less-lethal rounds, but also a two-day instructor course in the product, its use, history, and legal implications.

The video below introduces the Alternative.

Source: Alternative Ballistics

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Henry Sapiecha

ARE POLICE TO BECOME ROBOCOPS OF THE FUTURE WITH THE LATEST TECHNOLOGY

robocop image www.policesearch.net

Is this the police officer of the future?

Police Commissioner Ian Stewart sees the future of Queensland policing looking a lot like Robocop.

But only “the good parts”.

Commissioner Stewart likened new police tools, such as the upgraded roll out of QLITE, which gives police access to databases via an iPad, to “Star Wars-type technology” .

Queensland Police Commissioner Ian Stewart. image www.policesearch.net

Queensland Police Commissioner Ian Stewart. Photo: Harrison Saragossi

Police Minister Jack Dempsey said allowing police officers access to databases without heading back to the station saved “up to 30 minutes per shift”.

Mr Dempsey said the government had committed to a rollout of 1750 smart devices capable of accessing the technology this year, but “we have in fact rolled out 2850 devices”.

Commissioner Stewart said it like the stuff of TV shows.  And movies.  And science-fiction.

“Things we have seen on movie shows in the past – the technology is almost Star Wars-type technology is now in the hands of our front line police,” he said.

“It makes it safer for them. It makes it safer for the frontline community and that has always got to be our primary focus.”

While lightsabers for constables were still a while away, Commissioner Stewart did envision a future where police officers were equipped with Google Glass.

“It is an exciting time for policing and you know, people talk about Robocop, that type of technology, I think the good parts of that are not very far away,” he said.

Henry Sapiecha

LICENSE PLATE READING SYSTEM WILL PRESENT LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES WITH CHALLENGES

Systems that automatically read automobile license plates have the potential to save police investigative time and increase safety, but law enforcement officials must address issues related to staffing, compatibility and privacy before the technology can reach its full potential, according to a new RAND Corporation report.

numberplate reading device image www.policesearch.net

As part of efforts to promote innovation in law enforcement, many of the first generation license plate reader systems were purchased with federal and state grants. As these funding streams can be inconsistent, law enforcement agencies are – or will be – forced to make tough decisions about how to maintain the systems.

Making those decisions will require a clear understanding of the current and potential value of the systems to criminal justice agencies, according to RAND researchers.

“License plate readers are a relatively new technology that can be used to help investigate almost any type of crime,” said Keith Gierlack, the study’s lead author and a researcher at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. “But there are important issues, particularly about privacy, that must be addressed before this tool can reach its full potential.”

Because the systems retain information about every license plate read, privacy advocates say law enforcement agencies could use license plate information to track movement of individuals, even if they are not suspects in a crime.

Key privacy issues facing local departments also include establishing standards about how long to keep information collected by license plate scanners, who in a department has access to the information and the types of investigations where the scanner information should be used, Gierlack said.

Some jurisdictions have adopted policies to retain data for set periods, such as six or 12 months. Legislation was introduced in California to regulate use of the license plate readers and legal decisions in New Hampshire, Maine and Virginia have restricted the technology. But no broadly accepted privacy guidelines have emerged to help guide police agencies that adopt the technology.

License plate readers are fixed or mobile cameras that capture an image of a passing vehicle, compare its license plate against official “hotlists” and alert authorities whether it may be of interest. Surveys have found that as many as 70 percent of local police agencies may be using the technology.

Promoted initially as a tool to assist in fighting auto thefts, the technology can be used in many additional ways that law enforcement agencies only have begun to discover.

Researchers say information collected by the scanners can be used to help track down many kinds of offenders (helping collect infraction fees), and could be used to help identify both crime hotspots and crime trends. In addition, the technology could help test the alibis of criminal suspects and support efforts to combat drug cartels and terrorist groups.

RAND researchers conducted their study by reviewing past research on the technology and conducting in-depth reviews of seven police departments that have adopted the technology. They examined budgeting, manpower and maintenance issues, as well as how the technology is being used to aid police work. Both large and small law enforcement agencies were studied, as well as agencies located along international borders.

RAND researchers found that license plate readers provide the most utility to police if they have access to multiple hotlists and other databases of license plates of interest, including DMV data. The lack of access to some of these hotlists reduces the types of investigations license plate readers can aid. Additionally, mechanisms for sharing license plate reader data between jurisdictions are not always available.

The study, “License Plate Readers for Law Enforcement: Opportunities and Obstacles,” can be found at http://www.rand.org. Other authors of the study are Shara Williams, Tom LaTourrette, James M. Anderson, Lauren A. Mayer and Johanna Zmud.

Funding for the study was provided by the Office of Justice Programs at the National Institute of Justice.

The project was conducted within the RAND Safety and Justice Program, which conducts public policy research on corrections, policing, public safety and occupational safety.

Henry Sapiecha

IS THIS POLICE FORCE BEHIND THE TIMES IN TECHNOLOGY?

VITAL police communication tools have been slammed as outdated in a major review of Queensland’s emergency services.

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Former federal police boss Mick Keelty found a lack of investment in technology had left police officers significantly behind similar frontline organisations.

He wants every police officer to be issued with iPads or similar devices to perform instant searches or file reports from the road.

Mr Keelty’s final 400-page report into Police and Community Safety will be tabled in parliament today after being taken to Cabinet yesterday, where it was accepted in principle.

Civilians will replace uniformed police officers in speed camera vans and wide-load escorts after other recommendations from Mr Keelty, despite police union warnings it could lead to road deaths.

The Queensland Ambulance Service and Corrective Services departments will be moved, and the police and fire services will merge some office functions.

In another recommendation, the fleet of 2400 police vehicles would be fitted with GPS technology so their positions could be known at all times.

The ambulance and fire services can already track the movement of vehicles to help assign them to emergencies, while police rely on officers radioing in.

Poor police technology – in which officers must use radio to conduct vehicle registration and other searches – was frustrating officers and hampering their emergency and lifesaving work, Mr Keelty found.

Officers are also using their own video equipment at work and download the recordings at home because of a lack of service capacity.

Police Commissioner Ian Stewart recently implemented a major restructure of the service which will remain largely the same.

However the state government will forge ahead with long-expected plans to take speed camera vans out of the hands of police, who operate them on overtime.

Speed cameras could be outsourced to private operators, be handed over to civilian public servants or be moved to another department.

The Queensland Police Service has fiercely opposed the move, warning it will destroy the system’s integrity and compliance and lead to more road deaths.

Police earn about $10 million a year in overtime from speed camera vans, or an average of $15,000 a year for the 600 trained officers.

The Queensland Ambulance Service will move from the Community Safety department to Queensland Health. Corrective Services, which runs the state’s prisons, will move to the department of Justice and the Attorney-General.

The remaining Community Services department will be renamed the department of Fire and Emergency Services.

Current fire commissioner Lee Johnson will lead the department, putting a uniformed officer in charge instead of a director-general. A deputy commissioner will be in charge of rural fire fighters.

The change is aimed at putting “emergency services back in charge of emergency services”, in line with the police commissioner heading the police service.

Business support areas – such as human resources and information management – in the police and fire services will merge and will be led by a chief executive of portfolio business.

The Keelty report does not flag job losses as a result of the merge and staff are expected to predominantly “stay in the same chairs”.

A new position of Inspector-General for emergency management will oversee the portfolio.

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Henry Sapiecha

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