When I was young, I remember enjoying Will Smith’s 1998 film “Enemy of the State.” Essentially a thriller with heavily civil-libertarian leanings, it has Smith getting in all sorts of trouble simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Much of the movie had Smith trying to dodge detection by authorities, which became increasingly difficult as he realized just how many forms of surveillance surrounded him. Youthful me found this sobering.
Older me does, too, particularly when you consider how such technology can be abused. But I also find it heartening when it gets employed for good ends.
Just consider what has transpired in the United Kingdom. The Independent reported that the nation has earned criticism for becoming a surveillance state.
Why have others leveled this accusation? Because the U.K. has (among other things) aggressively employed drones in law enforcement.
As early as 2006, police in one county had drones hovering over problem areas, waiting for crimes to occur. A trio of counties started their own specialist drone divisions in 2017, employing multiple mobile units.
Currently, about 70 percent of the U.K.’s police force has access to drones, and you know what? They’ve managed some surviving saves with them.
On the night of Oct. 6, the Lincolnshire Police received an emergency phone call. The BBC stated that it came from a 16-year-old girl.
The young victim explained that she’d just been raped. What’s more, her rapist was nearby — and she didn’t have any clue where she was.
In many cases, that would’ve been that. How can the authorities help you when all you can tell them is that you’re in a large industrial area surrounded by a fence?
However, that was all nearby officers needed in order to find the girl. See, they had a drone with a thermal camera.
The drone could hover high over the area, picking out the hot-white silhouettes of people thanks to its special optics. Officers specially trained to help rape victims soon arrived on site, arrested the assailant and saved the girl.
High risk missing girl contacts police states she been raped & is still with the offender. Describes location thought to be huge old industrial complex surrounded by 8ft fence. Our #thermal #drone makes the find in mins. Officers guided in. 1 in custody and child safeguarded. pic.twitter.com/Vv3uULzVW1
— Lincs Police Drones (@lincsCOPter) October 6, 2018
That’s not the only time a drone has come to the rescue. In February, Lincolnshire Police used one to follow up on a car crash.
Authorities quickly located a man who’d started to succumb to hypothermia. If not for fast action, might’ve perished.
Similarly, The Sun reported that police put a thermal drone in the air to rescue an 83-year-old woman suffering from dementia. The woman had gotten lost in the woods, and officers feared that she wouldn’t have made it through the night on her own.
For my part, such high-tech stuff still makes me a little uneasy. But I’m glad its being used for such admirable ends so far.
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