It is the voice-activated device that millions of Britons use to play music, order groceries or check on the weather.
Now police are exploring whether an Amazon Echo could be used by victims and witnesses to report crimes without getting off their sofa.
Why? We aren’t necessarily all as lazy as modern police officers!
They want to use the technology to deliver daily crime bulletins direct to householders about offences being committed in their area, wanted suspects, missing people and even the whereabouts of the force helicopter.
The one that used to Tweet its location & what it was doing on a regular basis? Before you merged all choppers into the NPAS & silenced them forever?
Why is that suddenly desirable, simply because you can get the latest whizz-bang device to do it?
Rob Flanagan, Lancashire’s innovation lead, came up with the idea after experimenting with the digital voice assistant to read nursery rhymes to his daughter.
Lancashire’s what…?! I thought the police had all these terrible ‘cuts’ impeding their work?
He told the College of Policing conference: ‘The first stage is just providing information from Lancashire Police that will be updated daily.
‘The next stage will be something we can do very quickly, I’m talking February or March, essentially once we have got the authority, is to set up a skill to provide information to the public on specific things such as a response to questions like ‘how do I report this?’ or ‘what do I do with this lost property?’
‘If we can reduce demand into our call centres via the use of voice recognition or voice enabled technology and actually give the community the information they need without them needing to ring in to police then that’s massive.’
They already have it. All the forces use social media. Sometimes they fail miserably, sometimes they succeed. This is just another method.
But it’s new and innovative! And Rob has to do something to justify his salary, after all. Or he might have to go out there and pound a beat. The poor love.
Millie Graham Wood, legal officer at Privacy International said: ‘This raises so many problems. If police are using Amazon that is potentially a third party sharing their data.
‘If it is being used internally by officers how secure is that information and should police briefing be based on algorithms?
‘Police want to improve communication with the public but is this really the most appropriate mechanism?
‘If you are asking people to report crime via Amazon and give personal details it would raise a whole raft of problems.’
Well, yes. But it’s ‘innovative’, you see…