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What technologies are law enforcement agencies and private-sector businesses adopting to protect public safety through a more informed lens? How can these entities implement these technologies effectively to produce more equitable outcomes, particularly for communities of color? And finally, which decisions should be made by humans and which ones can be made by AI?
The February 2022 episode of the Arizona Technology Council’s TechCast podcast featured public safety experts including Lauren M. Cziok, North America public safety lead at Accenture; Jason Hartford, vice president of Axon devices at Axon; Gretchen Peri, senior director at Slalom and Robin S. Reed, co-founder and principal at EmFluent, LLC and president and CEO of the Black Chamber of Arizona. These leaders joined Steve Zylstra, Council president and CEO, and Karen Nowicki, president and owner of Phoenix Business RadioX, in exploring technology’s role in public safety and how new innovations can help first responders make better-informed decisions in real time.
Throughout this hour-long episode, this panel of public safety specialists explained the recent evolution of public safety technologies to emphasize racial and social equity. They acknowledge that historically, law enforcement has been slow to change, and hasn’t always progressed as quickly as it needs to in order to respond to society’s needs.
Gretchen Peri was quick to draw a connection business, data and technology. She insisted that Slalom’s approach has been to “start with the end in mind” – in collaboration with their clients, Slalom decides what business outcomes need to be generated and then designs technologies to help get there. She mentioned that these technologies work best when there is an intentional combination of human intelligence and artificial intelligence, so that Slalom can assess models to not only ensure data accuracy, but track that the intended objectives are being achieved. These checkpoints can help human intelligence address things within the criminal justice system that needs to be overcome, such as inherent bias.
In a similar vein, Lauren and the team at Accenture rely heavily on analytics and reporting to understand the effectiveness of different technologies being developed and deployed. In her team’s work with the Seattle Police Department, Lauren mentioned that leveraging data collection has helped Accenture identify Seattle communities that may be under or overpoliced. They use data from GIS and match it with dispatch data to see if certain cars are sitting idly in certain neighborhoods for too long, which can lead to skewed data or a lack of trust between local communities and law enforcement agencies.
In response, Robin mentioned that “data may drive change, but technology drives data.” When reviewing cases for police incidents, Robin mentioned that bodycams have been instrumental in providing a more comprehensive view of the interaction, rather than having to rely on cell phone footage, which has helped him to make more fair and equitable decisions. He also mentioned that data is good, but only if you can track it down to the people that it impacts. “We are trying to shine a light on positive situations during a time when we’re limited to seeing only provocative news. Good things are happening with great frequency as well.”
In Jason’s five years at Axon, the underlying goal has been to protect life and render the bullet obsolete. He mentioned that Axon has worked to implement various triggers to ensure bodycam recording is initiated during a law enforcement interaction, redesign tasers to reduce instances of weapons confusion, conduct virtual reality training and create a community advisory coalition that guides product development. He even mentioned that in fall of 2020, Axon shut down for two weeks to do an internal sprint for justice to create solutions that could make a difference for community members being disproportionally affected by police brutality and law enforcement inequities.
As Robin noted, it’s time to approach equitable law enforcement interactions as initiatives and not incidents. And as all of our public safety leaders agreed, the time is ripe to collaborate on policing and law enforcement models that are practical and responsive to community needs, particularly the needs of marginalized communities that are still predominantly communities of color.
In honor of this conversation taking place during Black History Month, below is a list of minority-owned businesses and minority-led initiatives that our guest speakers mentioned during the podcast that you can donate to or otherwise support:
- The Zion Institute
- Herozona Foundation
- Community Legal Services
- Agnes’ Center for Domestic Solutions
- Arizona Community Foundation
- Accenture Black Founders Development Program
- 100 Club of Arizona
LAUREN M. CZIOK
ROBIN S. REED
The official podcast of the Arizona Technology Council, AZTechCast is dedicated to covering innovation and technology in Arizona and beyond. Through the art of the connected conversation, AZ TechCast’s hosts and guests share success stories, tech news and analysis about the region’s leading startups, companies and emerging technologies, as well as the latest industry trends and critical issues propelling Arizona’s growing technology ecosystem. Visit www.aztechcouncil.org/techcast to learn more or to listen to recent episodes.
About Phoenix Business RadioX
Karen Nowicki is the owner and president of Phoenix Business RadioX. Amplifying the voice of business, Phoenix Business RadioX helps local businesses and professional associations get the word out about the important work they’re doing to serve their market, profession and community. A successful author, speaker and the creator of Deep Impact Leadership™ and SoulMarks Coaching™, Nowicki is a two-time recipient of the prestigious national Choice Award® for her book and personal development retreat. In addition, Nowicki has been an expert guest on regional TV and radio shows, including Fox Phoenix Morning Show, Sonoran Living, Good Morning Arizona, The Chat Room and Mid-Day Arizona. Recognized for her leadership and business acumen, she has been a regular contributor to many print and online magazines – publishing articles and blogs for business and education.
Visit www.aztechcouncil.org/tech-events to view all of the Council’s upcoming virtual tech networking opportunities, engaging virtual tech events and in-person tech events.