The brainwave reader can detect lies. Cameras that are tiny enough to fit inside disposable coffee cups and vape pens. Massive video cameras with zooming in to more than one kilometer for capturing faces and license plate.
A police conference was held in
In March, the latest technologies for security forces in the future went on sale. The event, which took place far from the public's eyes, provided a rare glimpse of what tools are available for law enforcement agencies around the globe: better, harder to detect surveillance, facial-recognition software that tracks people across cities, and computers to hack into phones.
The Advancement of Technology
Drones and facial recognition are transforming the police surveillance industry. Israeli
Software, American investigation tools and Chinese algorithms for computer vision can be purchased and combined to create a snooping mix of astounding effectiveness.
The event, which was fueled by the influx of money from Middle Eastern countries, such as the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the conference's hosts and a leading adopter of new security technologies, showed how mass surveillance tools, once thought to be prevalent only in China, are now becoming more widespread. The increasing use of these technologies indicates a new era in policing that is as dependent on software, data, and code as it is on officers and weapons. This raises questions about privacy issues and the way political power can be used. Daragh Murray, senior lecturer in law at Queen Mary University London and expert on police technology use, said that a lot of surveillance can be beneficial or even used to improve cities. The flip side is that it can provide incredible insights into the lives of people. This can be used to chill people unintentionally or as a tool of repression. A convention center in downtown Dubai was awash with gold when uniformed police officers from all over the world inspected drones which could be launched remotely and powered on. Chinese camera manufacturers showed software that can identify crowds. American companies such as Dell and Cisco offered police services at their booths. Cellebrite, the Israeli manufacturer of mobile phone hacking systems, displayed inside a "government area" that was separated from the rest.
Other companies sell facial recognition eyeglasses, sentiment analysis software and other products.
The following algorithm is a good way to start.
The facial expressions of a person can be used to determine their mood. A Segway mounted with a rifle was one of the most practical products. The police force doesn't even think about the weapons or guns they carry anymore, said Maj. Gen. Khalid Alrazooqi. He is the general director of AI at the Dubai Police. You're looking for tools and technology. The UAE, a U.S. ally with a strong presence in the Middle East and a country that has a powerful government and possesses deep pockets and serious security issues, is proving to be exemplary of the benefits and dangers associated with such technologies. These tools can be used to stop crimes and terrorist attacks, but they can also become a undemocratic tool for political power.
The Emirati government, led by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (also known as MBZ), has been surveilling critics and activists. Amnesty International, among other groups, has accused the oil-rich nation of abusing human rights against its adversaries. This includes using Pegasus telephone spyware developed by the
Israel. The government claims that it is fighting Islamic extremism by restricting protests and freedom of expression.
Presight AI is a tech company based in the UAE, with close ties to its leadership. It sells software that's almost identical to what the Chinese police use. The software was used at the conference to track attendees, identify them, and store their data. Marc O. Jones is the author of "Digital Authoritarianism" and professor at Hamad Bin Khalifa University, Qatar. He believes that the lack of transparency in how surveillance technologies are being used can lead to abuse. He said that the region had become "so securitized" and that under MBZ UAE was so focused on security, there is a fetishization with technology. In the two biggest emirates of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, cameras are particularly prevalent. Dubai, the flashier, more free-spirited city, has cameras hidden in corners. Cameras dominate the landscape of Abu Dhabi, a more conservative political center. The grey metal towers, shaped as T's or L's, that support the cameras hang at regular intervals over the roads. Alrazooqi stated in an interview that these cameras are part of a campaign to become the global leader in the field of police technology, even though the emirate has a population around 3.5 million and is known for its low crime rate. In the past, Emirati officials have visited companies and police departments in China, Europe, and the United States to get ideas. Alrazooqi stated that the consulting firms KPMG, Gartner and others were hired to assist with the process. Dubai purchased facial recognition systems made by Chinese companies, including Hikvision. KPMG Gartner Huawei and Hikvision all declined to comment. Alrazooqi stated, "We try to improve the systems that we already have by incorporating the best practices from each country." He said that "the Chinese are the best" in computer vision and face recognition. Jones stated that the Middle East is a "petri-dish of actors," where China, Russia, and the United States are all competing for influence using their respective technologies. China's growing influence in the Persian Gulf is evident by the heavy use of Chinese technology - the majority of cameras on the street are Chinese. Dubai's police operate next-generation systems out of a HQ north of downtown skyscrapers. Oyoon, the Arabic word for eyes, is one of these systems. It can identify anyone who passes through at least 10,000 cameras. The system links to a database that contains images taken from airport customs cards and resident's identification cards. Businesses have been required to upload video footage from their security systems into a central government database by the police. Alrazooqi stated that the system monitors the entire city, from the moment you arrive at the airport until you leave. He said that the systems were for "customers", which is a term used to describe the general public. He said that the people were happy with it. In a police control center in Dubai, officers were able to view on a large screen live camera feeds as well as the locations of emergency vehicles. The acting director of the Command and Control Center, Lt. Col. Bilal al Tayer said, "With technology and intelligent cameras, I'll know where someone is heading in a matter of minutes if they commit a crime." A predictive policing tool, developed by Dubai engineers using machine learning to identify where the next robbery will occur, was one of the advanced tools. Officials claimed that its accuracy rate of 68% was doubled compared to an older model. In some patrol cars mapping software provides officers with specific driving routes based on crime statistics. A second algorithm, based on records of auto accidents, predicts the roughly 4,000 drivers who are the most dangerous in Dubai. They will be reminded to drive safely via text message. Older Emirati men were the most common category of bad driving, followed by old South Asian men. The algorithm takes into account the nationality of drivers. The UAE's Ministry of Interior (which oversees state safety and has access all police cameras) demonstrated at the Dubai Police Fair how they could scan the eyes of conference participants and retrieve information on when they entered the country. They also displayed a recent photo taken by customs. A headset was also displayed that was said to detect the activation of a memory-related part of the brain. An official from the ministry said this was helpful during interrogations in determining if a suspect is lying. Lt. Gen. Abdullah Khalifa Al Marri was the commander in chief of the Dubai Police. He walked among the booths during the conference. He said that the new capabilities on display are an important step towards achieving the long-elusive utopian goal of "zero crimes". He added, "We do not violate the privacy of people." "We're just watching."