With technology evolving and improving every day, there are many pieces that police departments are using to find suspects and predict potential crime. Not only does this give them access to criminals, but also civilians.

Many have begun to question if this expanded surveillance is a breach of the public’s rights to privacy, free speech and due process. Here are some of the keyways police are using technology:

Drones and cameras

Cameras are one of the top ways that police survey the public. They can be found on streets, surveillance towers and now even drones. In 2016, 165 police departments in the U.S. bought drones, typically seen in urban areas. They can be used to hunt down those involved in a crime, investigate crime scenes, watch traffic and even map cities.

Facial recognition and analytics

You probably have seen facial recognition in spy movies, but in recent years it’s become a very tangible way for police to survey. From stationary cameras, they can scan crowds of people and find people of interest. However, some activists are protesting the use of facial recognition in police work because it could potentially make a false match.

Similarly, video analytics and artificial intelligence can identify objects as well as people. This can include clothes, bags or cars linked to potential suspects.


Computer algorithms are being used to sort through data and find where potential crimes will occur. It even goes so far as to find people the artificial intelligence believes will commit a crime.

Social media

Everything you put out on the internet is available forever, especially for law enforcement. In 2016, 75% of 500 surveyed local police departments reported that they use social media to ask the public for time and gather information. Another 60% reported they contacted social media companies directly to request information about a suspect.

Cell tower simulators

Cell tower simulators, also known as “Stingrays”, send out signals that imitate cell towers. These trick cell phones in the area into connecting to them, which allows police to learn their location and ID numbers.

Every time that technology evolves, there are new ways for authorities to survey the public and locate suspects.