The Amazon Echo was one of the online retailer's best selling items in 2017 and as more have ended up in the homes of consumers, UK law enforcement (opens in new tab) has begun to explore ways the smart speaker could be used to help fight and report crimes.
Lancashire police is currently considering how Amazon Echo could be utilised to relay information about local criminal activity to citizens. For example, the smart speaker could be used to send out crime bulletins, missing person reports or even alerts about wanted suspects.
The Echo could also be used internally by the police force to broadcast internal briefings to officers or even to send out reports about recent offences or daily crime logs. Amazon's smart speakers may also be a convenient way for witnesses or victims to reach out to law enforcement to report crimes.
During a recent conference at the College of Policing, Lancashire's Rob Flanagan offered further insight regarding how smart speakers could be utilised by law enforcement, saying:
“If we can reduce demand into our call centres via the use of voice recognition or voice-enabled technology and actually give the community the information they need without them needing to ring into police then that's massive”
Smart speakers (opens in new tab) such as Amazon's Echo or Google Home have already raised a number of privacy concerns among consumers due to the fact that they are always listening and sending recordings to company servers. If law enforcement does decided to take advantage of their capabilities, they will likely run into the same issues but on a greater scale.
However, the increased adoption of smart speakers by consumers could be beneficial to the community as a whole if the necessary precautions are taken to protect user privacy.
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