Thursday, December 4, 2014

Stop! "In The Name of Law!", Innovate America!

Hi! Happy Thursday!

Stop! "In the Name of Law!"
Before you break the Law!
Think it o-o-over!
We need to innovate America!

Irreni: [I]nnovation [R]eplaces [R]evolution, [E]ngineering [N]ot [I]deology!

We are rushing people! Stop it!

Putting body cameras on every cop in America is a revolution, not innovation!
"The White House announced Monday that President Barack Obama will sign an executive order meant to improve training for local law enforcement agencies that receive equipment through federal grant programs. Among the proposed initiatives is a 3-year, $263 million investment package, of which $75 million would go toward covering half the cost of 50,000 officer-mounted cameras -- a technology that has been widely cited as a necessary police reform following the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager shot and killed by Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson in August. Yet with almost 630,000 police officers working nationwide, it's not clear how much of an effect even 50,000 cameras would have."

We, as a country, need to get beyond instant gratification, knee jerk reaction  fixing things. Imagine if you had a race with only one horse. It wouldn't matter how fast that horse ran, it wins! There is no competition! Maybe cameras will work but how do will we know if cameras could work so much better with only one large government, contract camera in the race?

We need to innovate cops wearing cameras, dashboard cameras, drone companion cameras, etc! Enough of "we need it now, right now"! We should roll out small experiments of many kinds of cameras over years and gradually scale out as winners become apparent and refinements are made. Law enforcement dysfunction has been decades in the making. Cameras are not going to fix this overnight. We need the patience of years. Rolling out 50,000 cameras without competition, without research, without controls for experiments is high risk. What if this experiment fails? Does that mean body cameras are a failure? No, it just means we ran one experiment that failed. Even if the experiment succeeds do we know if we could do much better? No! Not with one vendor.

Enough revolution! We need innovation! Take a hint from Silicon Valley where competition is fierce. This kind of big 50,000 camera roll out legitimises government program critics. There is no competition when the government operates in this fashion of one size fits all, big government scale contract of a single source.

What should happen is that the government should fund studies by universities, fund camera research by universities and give grants for pilot programs in police forces around the country. Let peer reviewed research over the course of seven years do its thing.

And most importantly? Let the public know this is being done in a well thought out, well reasoned, scientific fashion with the best chances of success and level of success.  The American public is mature enough to hear a conversation of patience for the sake of success. Instant gratification for a program like this is a vote of no-confidence in the American people to engage in well thought out process. This camera program is every bit as pandering and as feel-good as "shop as usual" right after 9/11. Americans deserve better from its political parties.

Rushing cameras to market is revolutionizing law enforcement with high risk on two sides: cameras failing and when failed never being used again. Innovation is a process of competition where many kinds can compete. How many MP3 players existed before the iPod?

Stop! "In The Name of Law!"
Before you break the Law!
Think it o-o-over!
We need to innovate America!

Well come! and Well met! 


  1. Too Knee Jerk a reaction! Policies and Procedures need to be developed before putting this on every officer. Law Enforcement personnel are just like everyone else they use public restrooms and use computers and if that camera is on it will be recording the restroom visit along with the userid and password the officer uses to login to a computer. Since officers are pretty much on call 24/7 the cameras go home and gee here is there home life on video. How easy will they be to hack? Even if they can turn them off can they be remotely turned on? Sorry but I'm against the idea of putting cameras everywhere it is starting to sound too much like we are traveling down the road to life in a world described in 1984. -Todd

  2. Well met Todd! As I posted on Facebook, many people have a negative reaction to cameras. I took a "groupware using groupware" usability class at UC Berkeley. People react to cameras. Some people don't like them because without makeup they do not like they way the look. Other people don't like being caught picking their nose, or eating.

    Dashboard cameras make more sense because they only go with car.

  3. I agree on the Dashboard cams and they have been in use for awhile now and so hopefully the issues with those are addressed.