Study analyzes impact of new technologies on public security
Drones, body cameras and other technological tools used in criminal investigations have altered the dynamics of the Brazilian penal system, which has changed a lot in the last few decades. In light of the adoption of new technologies in public security and criminal investigations, Fundação Getulio Vargas’s Rio de Janeiro Law School carried out a research project to understand how these new technologies have affected how the criminal justice system works.
After analyzing more than 2,000 articles published in the mainstream media, the researchers found that drones are the new technology most widely used in the fight against crime in Brazil, adopted by 63% of armed security forces, followed by optical character recognition cameras (44%), facial recognition (33%), police body cameras (22%), and predictive policing, which is capable of applying computer modeling to crime data (7%).
These and other results, which gave rise to a book that will be launched soon, were presented at an event held on March 29 in FGV’s main building in Rio de Janeiro, attended by representatives of institutions such as the Public Prosecutors’ Office, Civil Police and Military Police. As well as providing a better understanding of the main challenges posed by the use of new technologies, the study may give rise to regulatory measures and aid the creation of public policies related to security.
Researcher Fernanda Prates says that during interviews with stakeholders in these institutions, who work on the front line of the penal system, it became evident how essential these new technologies are. As they become increasingly fundamental to everyday activities, it is also necessary to better understand the most effective ways to implement them in the daily lives of these professionals.
“Now that we understand that we can’t go back and that these tools will be part of these stakeholders’ routines, we want to talk to them and get their feedback. This kind of dialogue may give rise to new regulations, help institutions and improve our understanding of how to apply these technologies in order to take advantage of their full potential,” Prates says.
Public security in the age of big data
As part of a larger research project called Public Security in the Age of Big Data, this study was divided into two parts. The first one consisted of a national mapping exercise of newspaper articles to create a database.
“We wanted to understand how different institutions are dealing with these new technologies and the first step was to find out which tools were most used,” explained Professor Fernanda Prates, one of the study’s coordinators, alongside professors Thiago Bottino and Daniel Vargas.
According to Prates, the idea behind this research was to empirically understand how the penal system works. “We went into the field to better understand how law is practiced on a day-to-day basis. Everything goes through this system and all the results found in this work led us to a concrete vision that made it possible to understand the main challenges arising from the remarks of the police officers, agents, judges and other people who were interviewed in this second stage of the research,” she says.
Other studies on aspects of the penal system
This study emerged as an offshoot of previous research on technology integration in public security. The researchers decided to study the impact of new technologies after reading statements made by stakeholders such as police officers, judges and prosecutors as part of their previous study. You can find out more about this study here.
In this same field, FGV also carried out a study that sought to understand how the penal system handles cases of gender violence. The researchers listened to stakeholders who work with this type of process, starting with allegations and leading all the way to conviction or acquittal. The authors will also deliver their findings to relevant institutions, in order to generate knowledge to aid public policies and help tackle violence against women.