Are police officers replaced by robots

Robots on patrol - probably not in Austria for a long time

Digitization and artificial intelligence will influence almost every area of ​​life and work in the foreseeable future. What this means is described here using three examples: agriculture, police and justice.

The time has come in Dubai. The police there has been supported by a robot since last summer. The "Robocop" has a computer screen as a chest, passers-by can report offenses on the touchscreen or find out about parking tickets. In addition, the robot is equipped with a camera, the live images go directly to the operations center. A quarter of the police force should consist of such robots by 2030.

But it doesn't have to be the Robocop when it comes to the future of police work. State-of-the-art technology in the equipment should, among other things, ensure better networking of the officers, for example through augmented reality glasses with which the police can also enter the crime scene virtually or receive further information from the operations center. Microsoft and Motorola Solutions have already presented products, and there are countless application scenarios.

Sensors and body cams

Bodycams will also be part of the equipment of the future, which will not only record operations, but will also be able to transmit them directly to the headquarters via a smartphone. The activation does not necessarily have to be done by the police officer - there are already models with automatic transmission when sensors on the equipment detect that a weapon is being drawn. Other sensors on the uniforms can measure heart rate and other values ​​at the same time in order to know the stress level.

In the USA, where body cams have been used since 2009, there is a lot of experience - positive and negative. In any case, there are some police officers who report that they use the devices to make different decisions than they used to and feel stressed by the cameras. 300 models will soon be purchased in Austria.

What tasks machines take on

With new devices, not only does police work itself change, in some areas it is also used less or differently. Since December 2017, for example, 25 e-gates have been available at Vienna-Schwechat Airport, which process the border control in a few seconds - from placing the passport on the ID reader to entering the control gate, comparing it with police databases to face verification. So far, the e-gates are only an additional offer, and the manual border control remains in place. The example shows, however, that automation will also change areas of responsibility for the police.

There are no estimates of how many and which jobs this will affect in the Austrian police. An example from forensic technology also illustrates the fact that in most cases police officers and detectives cannot be completely replaced by machines or software: The Federal Criminal Police Office has had a digital bullet and cartridge case scanner for firearms identification since 2016. The scanner optically scans cartridge cases and projectiles, saves them and creates a hit list. The firearms expert is still needed. He or she reviews the suggestions under a comparative microscope.

First modernize communication

Before more scanners, drones, robots or state-of-the-art uniforms are used, the domestic police are faced with other challenges anyway. At the moment, "only a few emergency services are equipped with modern, mobile and secure communication devices," says the Ministry of the Interior's "Public Safety" magazine. You have to rely on analog images or verbal descriptions. This is time-consuming, cumbersome and sometimes endangering the safety of the employees. (lhag, April 27, 2018)

To the series:

Focus on "future of work":
Will robots take over our jobs? If so, what does that do to our society? What are the social consequences of the profound changes in the world of work that have only just begun? And what new opportunities does the technological change in work open up? We find the topic of "the future of work" so important that we dedicate this focus to it. In the coming days you will find on https://derStandard.at/Die-Zukunft-der-Arbeit a series of articles: The STANDARD editorial team interviewed researchers, drove to where the new world of work can already be felt, and thinks about essays - all handmade, of course.