Artificial intelligence (AI) is pretty handy when it can give you the best route to the airport at rush hour via a mobile app. AI is even better when it can help save the life of someone you love. 

Artificial intelligence has spread through virtually every industry, touching nearly all aspects of our daily lives — but we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg on what AI can do. For the public safety sector, AI represents a universe of opportunity, with potential to help save the lives of first responders and citizens alike. Here are some examples of how applications of AI are changing public safety.

In Law Enforcement…

In 16% of mass shootings from 2000 to 2013, the perpetrator displayed concerning behavior online before the attack, according to an FBI study of pre-attack behaviors published in 2018. But due to the overwhelming amount of data posted to social media, online blogs and videos, it can be hard to uncover these breadcrumbs until after the fact.

School districts are already scanning social media for this data, but have come under fire from some who claim it’s a violation of a student’s First Amendment protections on top of being an invasion of privacy. However, when a tragedy strikes, there are more people who want answers as to why authorities didn’t catch sight of all the waving red flags beforehand. This is the opportunity for AI to be used to help aid law enforcement in preventing the next school shooting – monitor social media for these same postings of concerning behavior while a potential shooter is still in the pre-attack phase. AI technology can help law enforcement personnel scour massive online datasets to flag patterns that could mark potential for an impending attack.

In Emergency Medical Services…

Over 350,000 cardiac arrest cases occur outside of a hospital every year. The survival rate for those cases where no first aid is available is only about 10 percent. However, if CPR is administered within the first few minutes, the survival rate increases significantly – potentially up to 45 percent.  Early detection for cardiac arrests is lifesaving, but not all bystanders are able to easily identify the symptoms when seconds matter. AI technology can help bridge that critical gap in time to augment first responders’ efforts before they reach the scene so that more lives can be saved.

In Copenhagen, Denmark, new AI technology is helping dispatchers identify if someone is experiencing cardiac arrest up to 48 seconds sooner. The technology analyzes the caller’s words, tonal patterns and background noise to correctly identify cardiac arrest with a success rate of 93 percent versus a success rate of 73 percent with human dispatchers. Earlier detection means that instruction, provided to the caller by the dispatcher, and life-saving CPR can begin during those crucial first minutes.

In Fire…

Running headfirst into a blazing fire is a total assault on the senses like no other – it’s extremely difficult to see what’s in front of you, hear over the roar of flames and breathe with all the smoke. Yet, firefighters do just that every day. And the more time they spend in the middle of a blaze, the higher susceptibility they have to cardiac problems, which is the most common health risk for firefighters.

AI developed by NASA for firefighters can collect and analyze on-scene data like temperature, gases and other hazardous environmental factors firefighters might not independently recognize in an effort to fight fires more efficiently and reduce exposure to extremely harmful environments. The sensor data is used to make intelligent recommendations specific to roles within the firefighting team and offer suggestions of how to efficiently use resources during such a dangerous and stressful incident. This has enormous potential to help save firefighters’ lives and reduce the amount of time they are in a high-risk and precarious environment.

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As AI continues to progress and adoption rates continue to rise, it is clear that we’ve only begun to imagine the potential. AI has the ability, like no other technology before, to augment and enhance each and every aspect of public safety, from fire to EMS to law enforcement. What more, you ask, can public safety do to help first responders protect lives and reduce personal risk? 

Adopting and assimilating AI is surely the answer.