India has been trying out various AI-based tech for many of its national projects. Now, in order to safeguard women, Lucknow’s Police department has taken an initiative to install several AI-based security cameras that can detect facial expressions. The idea of this project is to protect women who are in distress or being harassed in some of the city’s hotspots.
These AI-based security cameras will be able to detect the facial expressions of subjects and notify the nearest police station if it deems that someone is being harassed or is in trouble. This is a part of Uttar Pradesh’s “Mission Shakti” program, which was launched back in October 2020.
Dhruv Kumar Thakur, the Police Commissioner of Lucknow’s Police department, just recently told the media that they have identified almost 200 hotspots in the city from where most of the complaints of women harassment come. So, they will be targeting these locations and will deploy 5 of the AI-cameras initially. These cameras will notify the nearest police station when they detect such cases, even before the victim calls any emergency service.
Now, the primary aim of the program is to reduce the cases of women harassment and threats in the city, making it a safer place for women. However, some technology pundits have given negative remarks about the initiative as they think that this would harm the privacy of women rather than protecting them.
As per some IT professionals and other experts in the area, although this initiative can lead to positive results, it is highly likely that the police department might misuse the tech. Anushka Jain, an Associate Counsel at a non-profit organization named Internet Freedom Foundation, this project could lead to over-policing and increase the rate of police-harassment in the city.
“We don’t know what expressions they are tracking and how accurate the system of tracking these expressions is. Also, it’s not necessary that a person who’s making an expression of anger or distress is actually being harassed in a manner wherein police intervention is needed. I could be talking to a friend, and I could get upset over something. And that could also trigger the cameras,” added Jain.
Moreover, there is no information on whether the camera feed can be accessed by some specific officers or all the officers in the department. And whether there is any third-party involved in this project or not. So now, only time can tell if this initiative helps women or give more power to the police in the city.