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Wearable technology and citizen protection

As we watch the pandemic's effect on the entire world and how we connect and relate to each other, civil unrest erupts across the United States of America. It is a symptom of a broken healthcare system and, as Trevor Noah from 'The Daily Show' says, "A result of many dominoes falling this week". From the outrage of Aumaud Arbery's murder being ignored, to Amy Cooper weaponizing the NYC police system against a black man who was asking her to follow the rules, to the death of George Floyd which had the dominoes falling rapidly and in quick succession, led to the inevitable results of mass, human outrage. To the shock of many communities not used to the systemic racism of living black in America, this reality was only shared with them because of the pervasive use of cellphone cameras always on hand and available. As Will Smith astutely pointed out way back in August of 2016, "Racism is not getting worse, it's getting filmed." So this begs the question, how could wearable technology assist citizens to protect themselves, even if it is posthumous, and protecting themselves from people who should have been protecting them.

Bodycams on police were first instituted in 2005 in the UK and a few agencies in the US adopted them between 2010 and 2012. It was in 2014 when a number of police killings led to an outcry and the need for accountability and federal funding provided $40 million to more than 175 law enforcement agencies for the adoption of body-worn cameras. This began a campaign to promote transparency and public trust with law enforcement.

The limitations of this technology is evident when the officer forgets to activate the BWC or the view of the camera may be limited leaving out valuable evidence that would help protect civilians and officers alike. But with the adoption of cellphones, data collection and greater abilities to transmit live from multiple vantage points, accountability has been taken to a whole new level.

As we watch the rapidly evolving unrest during these unprecedented times, we see that technology has stepped in to provide evidence of silenced sections of society, and we wonder how could wearable technology assist further? With Agent Provocateurs looting in place of protesters, would the protesters be able to create an authenticator to show who was acting peacefully and who was using the unrest as a cover for more nefarious reasons? Could someone detained by the police have medical records available 'on tap' to ease with any confusion or mental health issues?

These are some of the pressing questions we are asking as we move into a world with 5G to connect us more powerfully, even as we are physically distancing. Wearable tech could bring more accountability and transparency to any organization as we move into the next stage of the 'new normal' beginning with the body cameras of 2005, to the future of data collection and irrefutable evidence. Marketers have been using data collection for years to provide them with insights and this information has become its own currency. But, like any tool, it can be used positively or negatively and the tool itself is not good or bad. As we have seen this past week, the use of technology in any department could help achieve your goal and those not taking advantage of the upcoming 5G revolution face the strong threat of being left in the past.

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