Axon, the nation’s largest supplier of police body-worn cameras, rolled out 1,000 new cameras for the Cincinnati Police Department on Tuesday with live-streaming capability. This will enable officers on the street to show crisis situations in real time and allow rescuers to find an officer who is down or lost, the Washington Post reports. The system will automatically activate the camera as soon as a gun is drawn, a shot is heard or a Taser is powered on. The cameras will not have facial recognition capability, said Axon CEO Rick Smith, and access to both the live-streamed video and the archived footage will be tightly controlled. To solve the problem of massive amounts of data piling up, the footage will be stored in a computing cloud maintained by Axon and Microsoft.
The cameras’ software will enable officers to receive transcripts of the audio in the footage. “To have the ability to access that camera in real time, and live-stream what the officer is seeing, that’s amazing,” said Lt. Stephen Saunders of the Cincinnati police. “That will be a tactical advantage in high-stress situations like an active shooter. Or maybe the officer can’t get to their radio. The dispatch center can access it and see what’s going on there. That’s a game-changer.” Though body cameras have spread widely, both as a means of improving transparency and also for documenting potentially controversial encounters, suspicions that they may be used for more aggressive police monitoring remain. Smith created an Artificial Intelligence and Policing Technology Ethics Board to review proposed uses of artificial intelligence and new technology.