National

Japanese police to test AI use for improving investigations of criminal activity

JIJI

The National Police Agency plans to conduct experiments in fiscal 2019 on using artificial intelligence to improve the efficiency of investigations, including for analyzing vehicle types.

AI will also be employed to look into questionable financial transactions and discover suspicious people and objects during large-scale events, informed sources said.

Some prefectural police departments have carried out similar experiments, but this will be the first trial by the NPA, according to the sources.

Under the agency’s plans, AI algorithms will crunch data to be able to determine vehicle types even from unclear footage taken by surveillance cameras. If AI programs can identify specific vehicles from such fragmented information as part of an auto body, the NPA hopes it will aid investigations of hit-and-run incidents, the sources said.

The NPA also aims to use AI to analyze information about suspicious financial transactions.

Last year, about 400,000 items of such information were reported to the police under the act on the prevention of transfers of criminal proceeds. The NPA analyzes them and provides the results to prefectural police departments and prosecutors for use in probes into money-laundering and other cases.

Currently, the discovery of relevant items from a vast amount of information depends on the judgment of analysts. The NPA hopes the use of AI will facilitate the sorting process to bring out useful information, the sources said.

Another area in which the NPA plans to use AI is the detection of suspicious individuals and objects in large-scale events, including sports contests and international conferences.

It is sometimes difficult for the police to scrutinize a large volume of security camera footage closely due to the limited number of officers. The NPA plans to have AI programs analyze situations in which, for example, a bag is left unattended or an individual is wandering back and forth in the same location, to help detect suspicious people and objects, the sources said.

An official said the NPA hopes to make use of AI not only in crime investigations but also in the whole range of police activities, including crime prevention.