Amid India’s strong mandate to reduce the digital divide, digitally-transformed policing has to delicately balance privacy concerns with modernized crime-busting initiatives.

While technology offers significant benefits in law and order, it also raises concerns about privacy, surveillance, and the responsible use of data.

For governments and society balancing these interests is a critical challenge. In India’s landlocked state of Telangana, Anjani Kumar, the Director General of Police, has introduced a slew of inclusive initiatives and strategies involving tech-driven policing. finds out morein this Q&A.

DigiconAsia: How is technology being used to enhance overall law enforcement and public safety in your city?

Anjani Kumar (AK): The incorporation of technological advancements has led to quicker response times, to the implementation of data-driven strategies, and to enhanced crime prevention efforts.

Notably, the utilization of real-time data analysis has the capacity to pinpoint areas with high crime rates, facilitating more effective resource allocation by law enforcement agencies.

Our law enforcement employs a diverse array of technological resources. Computer-aided dispatch (CAD) is instrumental in coordinating emergency responses, while real-time incident monitoring and response are bolstered by surveillance cameras and a gunfire locator service. Furthermore, car registration-plate recognition systems and police databases play a pivotal role in identifying criminals and conducting background checks.

Anjani Kumar, Director General of Police, Telangana

DigiconAsia:  How do you ensure the responsible and ethical use of surveillance technologies to protect citizens’ privacy in the era of increasing surveillance and data collection?

AK: Promoting responsible and ethical utilization of surveillance technologies is of utmost importance. In both preventing and investigating crimes AI holds a central role, so we use machine learning algorithms to examine extensive datasets to pinpoint patterns related to criminal activities, which, in turn, facilitates proactive measures by law enforcement and optimizes resource allocation. Technologies like facial recognition and predictive policing further expedite case resolution and enhance resource allocation efficiency.

In dealing with so much surveillance data, we have well-defined guidelines that regulate their usage, ensuring strict adherence to both local and federal regulations. Essential measures for upholding accountability include vigilant supervision by municipal authorities; active engagement with the public for input; and the routine conduct of comprehensive audits.

In order to ensure the privacy of individuals, various safeguards are implemented, such as encrypting data, enforcing stringent access controls, and establishing policies for data retention. Additionally, data anonymization is frequently utilized to safeguard the anonymity of individuals during data collection and analysis.

DigiconAsia:  Can you explain the role of data analytics and predictive policing in reducing crime rates? How are you engaging with the public to gather feedback and address concerns related to technology and policing?

AK: Data analytics and predictive policing harness the existing crime data to detect patterns and allocate resources more effectively. This evidence-based method assists in lowering crime rates by enabling law enforcement to concentrate on areas with heightened risk. Maintaining transparency and accountability is achieved through public disclosure of technology utilization, impartial assessments, and well-defined guidelines governing the acquisition and dissemination of data. These measures guarantee that technology is employed in a manner that is both efficient and morally sound.

Within an inclusive approach to law enforcement public involvement plays a crucial role in the utilization of technology. This encompasses various forms of engagement such as community gatherings, digital surveys and feedback channels — all of which serve the purpose of addressing issues, collecting recommendations for enhancements, and fostering a sense of trust between the community and the police force.

DigiconAsia: What are the cybersecurity measures in place to safeguard sensitive police data and systems from cyber threats? And, How does the police force handle issues of online harassment, cyberbullying, and digital crimes?

AK: Ensuring strong cybersecurity is of utmost importance. Effective measures encompass the use of firewalls, frequent system updates, and thorough training for employees. Partnering with cybersecurity professionals is essential to protect sensitive police information and systems from online threats.

Dedicated cybercrime units, often working alongside federal authorities, tackle digital crimes. Our numerous awareness initiatives aim to educate the public about online harassment and cyberbullying, offering guidance on how to report such incidents.

Amid increasing cyber fraud and risks, we still endeavor to close the digital divide: through community engagement initiatives, affordable internet access programs, and providing technological education to disadvantaged individuals. Closing the digital divide is of utmost importance, and our efforts guarantee that all members of the community can take advantage of technological advancements in law enforcement.

DigiconAsia thanks Anjani Kumar for acceding to this Q&A.