This article has been written by Gayathri, pursuing the Diploma in Cyber Law, FinTech Regulations, and Technology Contracts from LawSikho. This article has been edited by Prashant Baviskar (Associate, Lawsikho) and Smriti Katiyar ( Associate, Lawsikho). 


The internet was invented in 1960 for the internal purpose of the US military. Development occurred at a quicker pace from 1983, due to the advancements in the associated areas leading to the birth of “Online Technology” which turned the world into its parasite. “The technological growth through ages” is depicted in Figure 1 (UNCTAD-United Nations, 2021)

The increase of crime in the world and in India is proportional to technical growth. “The World’s crime trend” is depicted in Figure 2  (UNODC; United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2019), and “India’s crime trend” is depicted in Figure 3  (The Hindu, October 23, 2019). The control on crime can be understood from “The Rule of Law Making the Vicious Circle Virtuous” which is depicted in Figure 4. (UNODC; United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2019).

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The online technology allows the users to access information and communicate from all over the world, with the help of the World Wide Web (Web browsers, ftp, e-mail, associated hardware, Internet service providers, etc.,), On the other hand, law enforcement deals with the national security of the country’s ability to protect itself from the threat of anti-national violence or attack, (Council, 2007). 

A survey by UNESCO in November 2020 on the knowledge improvement in the – ‘Artificial Intelligence and the Rule of Law in the Online Technology’ area – sees enthusiastic participation from the law enforcement and judicial fraternities across the globe and is depicted as “UNESCO’s November 2020 survey showing the interest in learning AI and the Rule of Law in Judicial Fraternity across the Globe” in Figure 5. (UNESCO, 2021)

Figure 1 – The technological growth through ages.

Figure 2- The world’s crimes trend.Figure 3- India’s crime trend.

Figure 4- The rule of law making the vicious circle virtuous.

Figure 5 – UNESCO’s November 2020 survey showing the interest in learning AI and the rule of law in the judicial fraternity across the globe. 

Figure 6 – Technological revolutions and adaptability gaps.

UNESCO’s survey prompts one to think about the technology gap in law enforcement. The gap can be attributed to the ‘Two-Phase Revolution’. First – the acceptability of new technology in core areas during a situation of the widened gap between the employees in the organisation.  Second – the uneven deployment of technology in the same or similar sector. This leads to technological gaps while catching the technological revolution and is depicted as “Technological Revolutions and  Adaptability Gaps” in Figure 6. (UNCTAD-United Nations, 2021) 

Notwithstanding  these s challenging gaps in the world’s ability to adapt to newer technology, the frontier technologies of the developing and  the developed countries are advancing to make a huge impact in the fields of artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of things (IoT), big data, blockchain, 5G, 3D printing, robotics, drones, gene editing, nanotechnology and solar photovoltaic (Solar PV) etc., This can be understood from the allocation of the market size in 2025 by the frontier technologies and is depicted as “Market Size Estimates Of Frontier Technologies, $Billion“ in Figure 7. (UNCTAD-United Nations, 2021). 

In the above circumstances if questioned, – “How should law enforcement adapt to online technologies?” – it is vital to understand the essential features like- technology and criminology, the technology used in crime detection, understanding the agency’s needs for technology, agencies decisions in technology acquisition and implementation, existing technology tools and its uses, technology assessment studies- for research, developing scenarios for law enforcement, future scenarios, conclusion, and recommendations.

Technology and criminology

Individuals and groups using the internet, social media, and smartphones are more likely to commit crimes across international borders. Social media may be used to raise terrorist groups which require enforcement agencies to work through national and international jurisdictions and cumbersome bilateral agreements. Private companies should use a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) which compels them to provide essential digital evidence. The usage of which is time-consuming due to laborious mechanisms that are not fully designed for a proper digital connection to the world as it requires further developments to accommodate the prosecution of transnational crimes. The terrorist group’s ability to adapt the latest technology to the ill-suited international legal mechanisms needs online monitoring.

Technology development should take care of both domestic and international laws. A Few countries want to control their own citizens’ data, including storing data inside their national borders. Today, we need technology tools that conform to international legal standards and integrate the needs of national sovereignty.

Technology used in crime detection

Technologies that need to support public safety are generally categorised into hard and soft types in crime detection.  This distinction is detailed in  “Technology Categorisation used in crime detection” in Figure 8.  (Justin Escamilla; Jessica Reichert, 2019)

Understanding the agency’s need for technology

This can be well understood through continuous ‘Brainstorming’ sessions with the enforcement agencies and this technology pushing is possible only after analysing the details.s This can be seen in “Understanding the agencies need for Technology” in Figure 9.

The Law Enforcement Advisory Panel (LEAP) approach has provided far more depth than the typical “What Are Your Requirements?” interviewing method. . LEAP  method addresses

  • What operational objectives would be if support is met?
  • How important is the need with respect to solving real-world problems that occur during day-to-day or crisis operations?
  • Whether it is technically feasible to meet the need?
  • Whether it is operationally feasible to meet the need? 
  • The overall expected cost of the agencies to meet each need.

Further, if the agency wants the technology to accommodate both the current and future purpose, then it demands the study of two more core elements:

a) Taxonomy – Knowing what the need is, 

b) Objectives – Categorizing and understanding the needs for further law enforcement.

This leads to the understanding of technology categorisation like hardware and software, for the use of law enforcement, courts, corrections and overlaps if any. Further breakdown of the broad objectives, decomposing the mission statements and frequent discussions with different expert panels help to pick up the appropriate software and associated solutions which leads to the overview of strategic planning of activities. The “Brainstorming session of Technology” is depicted in Figure 10.  (Karsten, 2017) and (Webroot, 2021). 

Figure 7 – Market size estimates of frontier technologies, $billion.

Figure 8 – Technology categorisationused in crime detection.Figure 9 – Understanding the agencies need technology.

Agencies decisions in technology acquisition and implementation

On the whole, for the law enforcement agency, the technology adoption is more ad hoc than anticipated. The tendency of the agencies to purchase and implement technology is seen without a clear strategic plan.  Uncleared questions like ‘why and how’ the technology will be used in limited technology integration within the agency. Failure to recognize the primary or secondary benefits of the technology leads to disillusionment and dis-continuation of funding for maintenance or updating particular types of technology.

The adoption and impact of technology are conditional and depend on numerous factors. These factors when combined into three domains (community, agency, and technology) to check the interaction of influence for the adoption disclose the key factor and is depicted as “Factors influencing the agencies decisions in technology acquisition and implementation – Venn diagram” in Figure 11.  (Kevin Strom, 2016)

No doubt, community factors influence the adoption of technology. Its success in terms of its outcomes depends on the local laws along with the national sentiment. Community influence might be episodic and topical or it may be structural (e.g., the ability of the community to support expensive technology).

Organisational climate influences people’s willingness to integrate new information into existing processes. Openness to innovation and failure also influences the agency’s approach to new technologies and integration into key work processes.

From the above discussions, in general, one can conclude the requirement of a common person or any agency to adopt a technology. It should have the combination of ‘Five As’ – which are Availability, Affordability, Awareness, Accessibility, and Ability for effective use and is depicted as “5 A’s to adopt a Technology” in Figure 12. (UNCTAD- United Nations, 2021)

Existing technology tools and their  uses

The timeline of the technology tools adopted by law enforcement agencies from 1960 to date is depicted as “Timeline Of The Technology Tools Adopted By Law Enforcement Agencies From 1960 To Date” in Figure 13. The existing technology tools being used in law enforcement is depicted as “Technology tools being used in Law Enforcement” in Figure 14. (Fritsvold, 2021) 

Figure 10 – Brainstorming session of technology.

Figure 11 – Factors influencing the agency’s decisions in technology acquisition and implementation – Venn diagram.

Figure 12 – 5 A’s to adopt a technology.

Figure 13 – Timeline of the technology tools adopted by law enforcement agencies from 1960 to date.

(Justin Escamilla; Jessica Reichert, 2019)

The new technology and adoption of new tools are helping the law enforcement authorities to recognise crime at a faster pace in order to enhance public safety, catch criminals and save lives. The tools in use are: 

Facial recognition software

Many individuals and groups were concerned that this software would be used unethically, but eventually, it proved to be an effective investigative tool. The software helps in safety improvement in a number of instances. It helps to find and arrest a rape suspect within a few hours of the attack. This is being used in public places for safety purposes. 


In addition, facial recognition and DNA helps in understanding the array of biometric (and behavioural) characteristics. Tools like voice recognition, palmprints, wrist veins, iris recognition, gait analysis, and even heartbeats help in addition. Comprehensive electronic databases using DNA and other biometric data plus fingerprints help to identify suspects. 

Voice technology 

This empowers authorities in performing the duties during patrolling in highways. Though voice systems vary from vehicle to vehicle, commands run during emergency situations. This technology makes it easier for police to file reports; and officers can dictate their notes which are then logged directly into their agency’s RMS system.


This refers to the usage of next-generation cameras that help in delivering both visual and audio surveillance in potential crime scenes. This may be too dangerous or too hard for officials to reach. Some devices are even “throwable” (up to 120 feet and capable of withstanding repeated 30-foot drops)and powered by an electric motor. These are equipped with high-tech wheels for movement, climbing, and exploring the most challenging spaces while being operated wirelessly

Video doorbells

These help in enhancing security through surveillance systems and assist law enforcement when it comes to criminal investigations


These help in pinpointing the exact location of the gunfire every moment. Today, the sensors help to detect gunfire and assist analysts to track the data and instantly relay it to police, helping them to arrive quickly. It can detect 90% of gunfire incidents with a precise location in less than 60 seconds to significantly improve response times.

Thermal imaging 

This is  an important police technology which is helpful in dark conditions. Some of the cameras are small hand-held units. They utilise infrared imaging to detect heat emitted by such objects as humans and animals, and deliver a “heat picture” or “heat map” of the environment in question. These are  being used to track the motion of suspects in darkened places. This technology has life-saving applications — from firefighting to search-and-rescue missions in storms.

Artificial intelligence

Internet of Things (IoT) means more data is being generated, collected, arrayed and analyzed than ever before.This data  helps in law enforcement using tools like ShotSpotter, facial recognition, biometric etc., with the help of artificial intelligence (AI). From the data which is collected,  crime mapping and forecasting can be carried out  using deep machine learning algorithms.

Smarter cruisers

Smarter cruisers are equipped with a gong for a siren and a cell in the back for prisoners. They are also in the process of getting upgraded  to Wi-Fi connected laptops, tablets, and in-dash computers. These facilities give authorities the benefit of instant access to vital information, communication systems and more. The addition of Next-generation officer safety features (for example, armor – piercing bullet proof doors) are also incorporated into some police vehicles. Semi-autonomous operational capabilities help the authorities to act safely and in time.

Automatic License Plate Recognition (ALPR)

This technology allows the toll collectors to automatically scan and collect the registration numbers and charge fines. It is also  used by a variety of law enforcement authorities for identifying stolen cars. With AI, ALPR cameras can identify the make, model and colour of cars even in low light and poor weather, distinguish individual characters on license plates, learn new plates as they appear and expand its database to include updated and unfamiliar designs.

Enhanced Body-Worn Cameras

These help in street-level view and are designed for better integration   in order to provide synchronised video of an event from multiple points of view. The technology makes a camera capable of issuing an alert when an officer is down. On the horizon are body-worn police cameras equipped with facial recognition capabilities.


Drones are unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).Drones are increasingly being used for crime scene work, search and rescue efforts, accident reconstruction, crowd monitoring and more. Some of the more sophisticated models can be equipped with thermal imaging or 3D mapping software to offer GPS-enhanced precision to the areas being surveyed. The drones and UAVs are also equipped with zoom cameras, making them incredibly valuable for delivering actionable, real-time intel in high-risk, “armed and dangerous” situations.

Technology assessment studies : for research

A detailed assessment of technology areas is a repetitive process that combines literature reviews, market analyses, interviews, focus groups, and site visits. To understand technology enforcement, it is essential to identify the recommendations within the limits of the policymakers, seek the requirements of new needs and use the new future technology. This generates the requirements of new technology needs and can be understood by studying the examination of the use of predictive analytics in policing, usage of geospatial tools, examining both the promise and the pitfalls of information-sharing, examining the market and market gaps for technology.

Examination of the use of predictive analytics in policing

The use of analytical techniques (usually statistical models) help in identifying promising targets for agency intervention which help in preventing crime, solving past crime and identifying the potential offenders and the victims. The resulting guide provides a taxonomy of predictive policing in solving cases by developing, acquiring or using a predictive analytics system.

Usage of geospatial tools

Using a combination of geospatial tools helps in quality assurance of technical solutions of crime-solving, by law enforcement. Identifying the gaps in disseminating tools and the development of usable tools helps in the improvement of the interoperability with the existing systems.

Examining both the promise and the pitfalls of information-sharing

This refers to the examination of the interoperability and cost accessibility of RMS, CAD systems, and other key law enforcement information. It involves sharing systems by creating common policy and request-for-proposal (RFP) language that specifies interoperability requirements, testing compliance, information assurance (cybersecurity) requirements, and privacy and civil rights compliance requirements. 

Examining the market and market gaps for technology

This refers to supply and demand analysis data that is to be compared for knowing the market gaps of technology tools in law enforcement and is depicted as ‘Data to be compared for knowing the market gaps of technology tools in law enforcement’ in Figure 15.  

Developing scenarios for law enforcement

In the “Law Enforcement Futuring Workshop” in 2014 a palette consisting “Technology- Society”, was given to the participants for drawing their need or  idea on future “Vision on  of Law Enforcement Technology in the period 2024-2034” (Richard Silberglitt; Brian G. Chow; John S. Hollywood; Dulani Woods;  Mikhail Zaydman; Brian A. Jackson, 2015).  The findings were as follows:

The three horizons visioning method

This method was adopted for considering alternative future visions, comparing them in devising scenarios of trajectories from the present to the future in which the characteristics were defined for evaluating pathways and alternative scenarios in three-time horizons. The First Horizon is the present time i.e., 2014, the Third Horizon is the future i.e., 2034. The Second Horizon is the intermediate time period. The y-axis represents the extent to which strategies for law enforcement fit and X-axis represents the time. The conflicting positions suggest that period at which law enforcement must operate changes with advances in technology and the evolution of society. The conflicting positions lie in the period 2021 and 2028 and are depicted as “Three Horizons Vision Method” in Figure 17

Future scenarios 

Major participants leaned towards “Tough Love” and “Safe Streets’ ‘, but “Safe Streets” was the more preferred one. The study was further refined based on learning and was classified further as ‘Scenarios Leading to Desirable Futures’ and ‘Scenarios Leading to Undesirable Futures’ and discussed below:

Scenarios leading to desirable futures

There are four scenarios leading to desirable futures. Two that initially move into the “Tough Love” quadrant and two that initially move into the “Safe Streets” quadrant. 

Scenarios in “Tough Love” 

The scenarios are 1A and 2A, in which the initial use of technology by law enforcement is intrusive and erodes public support. In the case of 1A, law enforcement demonstrates and maintains competent use and regains public support, while in 2A community alienation continues and the lack of support for law enforcement grows. Effective communications by establishing a constructive dialogue with the community may lead the pathway towards scenario 1A. This is depicted as Scenarios in “Tough Love” in Figure 18.

Scenarios in “Safe Streets”

The scenarios are 1B and 2B, the law enforcement continues to master and use technology effectively. improper use of technology causes a cascade of negative effects, and public support is lost even though technical expertise continues to grow and the effective use of technology continues to increase. This is depicted as Scenarios in “Safe Streets” in Figure 19. In the view of participants, 1A and 1B was more desirable than 2A and 2B, because they represent futures in which public support for law enforcement is present and growing.

Figure 14 – Technology tools being used in law enforcement.Figure 15 – Data to be compared for knowing the market gaps of technology tools in law enforcement.

Figure 16 – ‘Technology – Society’ – acceptance scenario on technology adoption.Figure 17 – 3 Horizons vision method.

Scenarios leading to undesirable futures

These are categorised into three main scenarios and further divided into five sub undesirable futures.

Undesirable scenario 1

In scenario 3A, law enforcement is unable to use the technology effectively, due to technology advancements or lack of resources or failure in recruitment/training/ implementation/process/policy. Scenario 4A could be due to loss of funding/too intrusive use/ lack of community outreach/poor leadership/a negative feedback loop resulting from outperformance by private police or any combination of these. Another possibility is a response to crises such as scarcity of resources or natural disaster(s). This is depicted as undesirable scenario 1 in Figure 20.

Undesirable scenario 2

Here are two futures in which initial movement is positive, but this is  due to the inability to move negatively. Scenario 3B, law enforcement initially continues to master the technology and later on lose public support. This scenario is a catastrophic event and leads to one or more of the problems with a negative feedback loop. This is depicted as undesirable scenario 2 in Figure 21.

Undesirable scenario 3

This scenario was developed by workshop participants, the “do-nothing” scenario, which is Path 4C. Because of technological advancement and the active use of technology by criminals, law enforcement loses both technological capability and public support. This is depicted as undesirable scenario 3 in Figure 22.

Possible pathways to desirable futures

The scenarios show the effective use of technology with increased support from the public (toward “Safe Streets”) or decreased support from the public (toward “Tough Love”). Because of the difficulty of continually increasing public support as technology is used more pervasively, along with the increasing likelihood of social or legal obstacles, the “Safe Streets” path turns toward “Tough Love.” The law enforcement’s response to eroding public support by using technology in a less intrusive and more competent manner, leads to the “Tough Love” path turning toward “Safe Streets.” This type of back-and-forth movement between the upper two quadrants continues, with the possibility of reduced amplitude as law enforcement learns how to use technology effectively in a way that gains public support. Workshop participants hypothesize that this can be accomplished through: 

(1) proactive use of information-sharing mechanisms, including social media and other means to establish effective communication both among law enforcement and with the public; 

(2) effective training of law enforcement personnel; and 

(3) partnerships with public- and private-sector organisations. This is depicted as “Possible Pathways to Desirable Futures” in Figure 23.

Figure 18 – Scenarios in “Tough Love”Figure 19 – Scenarios in “Safe Streets”

Figure 20 – Undesirable scenario -1Figure 21- Undesirable scenario -2

Figure 22 – Undesirable scenario -3Figure 23 – Possible pathways to desirable futures

Conclusion and recommendations

The technology innovations have been spiking  since the last few decades, as well as crimes due the above discussed ‘Online Technologies’. UNESCO’s survey displays law enforcement’s inclination to update knowledge in technology. This is due to the gaps in technological revolutions and adaptability. In the coming days, frontier technologies are advancing and will  have a huge part to play in reducing the technological gaps. For any country the ‘National and Public security’ is of prime importance due to the intelligence of criminals in technology adoption. This forces the enforcement agencies to adapt to new technologies to restrain and curb crime in a speedier and effective way.

As of date, twelve major technology tools are in use to analyse and detect  crimes. Due to criminals’ intelligence, new essential needs both in hardware and software technologies can be assessed by conducting Brainstorming Sessions. Predictive Analysis and Information sharing with different agencies and tools become more important in crime detection. 

In a workshop study on ‘Law Enforcement Technology in the period 2024-2034’, the study recommends the new technology adoptions in the years 2021 and 2028. In different scenarios the majority leaned towards ‘Tough Love’ and ‘Safe Streets’ quadrants and also have public support.

It is recommended that 

  1. Proactive use of information sharing mechanisms, including social media and other means to establish effective communication both among law enforcement and with the public is very much essential.
  2. Effective training of law enforcement personnel is the need of the day.
  3. Innovation is a continuous process and the law enforcing agency needs to adopt it effectively.  
  4. Partnerships with public- and private-sector organizations will help both in funding and effective law enforcing.

The adoption of the above factors helps the Law enforcement agencies to be in line with the criminal’s technology so as to curb their activities and help in preserving both ‘Public and National Security’ aspects.

List of abbreviations

RDTandEResearch, Development, Testing, and Evaluation
RMSRecords Management Systems
MLATMutual Legal Assistance Treaty
LEAPLaw Enforcement Advisory Panel


  1. Council, N. R. (2007). Engaging Privacy and Information Technology in a Digital Age. The National Academies Press. 
  2. Fritsvold, E. (2021). 12 Innovative Police Technologies. University of San Diego.
  3. Justin Escamilla; Jessica Reichert. (2019). An Overview Of Police Technology:Adoption And Efficacy.
  4. Karsten, J. (2017). As criminals adapt to new technology, so must international law.
  5. Kevin Strom. (2016). Research on the Impact of Technology on Policing Strategy in the 21st Century. Brett Chapman; National Institute of Justice.
  6. Richard Silberglitt; Brian G. Chow; John S. Hollywood; Dulani Woods;  Mikhail Zaydman; Brian A. Jackson. (2015). Visions of Law Enforcement Technology in the Period 2024-2034: Report of the Law Enforcement Futuring Workshop. RAND Corporation.
  8. The Hindu. (October 23, 2019). Decoding NCRB report. The Hindu,.

  1. UNCTAD- United Nations. (2021). Technology and Innovation Report 2021. In U. N. Publications,  United Nations Conference on trade and development, UNCTAD, New York.
  2. UNDOC; United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. (2019). GLOBAL STUDY ON HOMICIDE.
  3. UNESCO. (2021). Judicial operators in 100 countries express interest in learning about AI and the rule of law with UNESCO.
  4. Webroot. (2021). Mobile Technology and Law Enforcement.

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