May 17, 2016

Blog

Policing, Privacy and Data Protection

ETICAS RESEARCH AND CONSULTING, June 2017

Policing routines, as any other dimension of public action, are subject to the constraints of privacy rights and data protection principles. Even though it is true that police forces must process a wide range of personal data and that certain investigative actions may require making important regulatory exceptions to those privacy rights, there is a set of legal guarantees that should be taken into account.

Moreover, the fact that Community Policing implies an “informal” dimension of public security and a closer relationship between officers and citizenry, should not mean that privacy and data protection rights and principles can just loosen up. On the contrary, both parties should become aware of potential risks derived from this alternative policing framework and take them into account. If privacy risks are not duly addressed, both citizens and police officers may be affected and even endangered.

The right to personal data protection is now officially recognised as a EU fundamental right. Entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty on 1 December 2009 marked a historic moment for data protection: it was elevated to the status of a fundamental right within the EU legal order, alongside the right to privacy. This right is based on the principle of informational self-determination, this means, we get to claim maximum control over our personal information and data.

The most recent regulatory modifications at the EU level regarding data protection have to do with the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Directive 2016/680. The First one, officially named Regulation (EU) 2016/679 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 April 2016 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data, was approved on 14 April 2016 and it will be directly applicable in all Members States starting in May 2018. The second one, the Directive (EU) 2016/680 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 April 2016 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data by competent authorities for the purposes of the prevention, investigation, detection or prosecution of criminal offences or the execution of criminal penalties, and on the free movement of such data, repeals the previous Council Framework Decision 2008/977/JHA and needs to be transposed by the Member States through national regulations.

Nevertheless, not all the risks can be addressed through regulation. In order to guarantee the operational deployment of the principles embedded in this legal framework, technical and organizational resources should work towards enhancing security and privacy guarantees as well. Developing a corresponding Employers’ handbook or guidelines for Employees on data privacy for instance, may help to foster best practices. We could cite many examples of security protocols going wrong; one of them took place in Spain, where a student of Law (nicknamed by the press as Little Nicholas – el pequeño Nicolás ) was arrested in October 2014 by the National Police on charges of forgery, fraud and identity theft. In order to achieve his goals, he counted on the help of local police officers who accessed driver license databases for illegitimate purposes.

On the other hand, involving the citizenry in community policing and therefore in solving or fighting serious crimes, may put neighbours, police officers and entire families in danger. If an app or technology helps to solve a crime, collaborating neighbours using this app should be fully protected, making sure that anonymity of their personal data is guaranteed and that no revenge actions will fall upon them.

The attitudinal dimension of the involved stakeholders is a key element to avoid undesired consequences. For instance, revealing who reports an event or suffers the loss of control of information, like false accusations. In this context, victims, witnesses and offenders (it is important to take into account that offenders also have rights) need to be protected. Among the vulnerable groups, it is possible to find minors (especially child victims of bullying or domestic violence), women victims of gender violence, elderly people who live alone, threatened neighbours, rehabilitated offenders or citizens with criminal records, as well as celebrities, holders of public office or renowned personalities and public faces.

Mobile apps and social media may increase privacy risks in the policing context. Self-developed and customized apps and digital tools need to take into account not only the benefits and drawbacks, but also the potential risks that they may bring. On the other hand, making use of existing platforms and third-party services demands precaution to be maximised, since the control and management of the resources – and therefore the processed information – falls in to the responsibility of external organizations. We all know that information and media material such as pictures or video feeds can easily circulate through social media networks in an uncontrolled manner. Moreover, bad practices (e.g. community manager fails such as posting inappropriate language, spreading information about alleged suspects) can have a significant impact due to the wide audience in reach, even if the contents are later removed the harm remains. Not only technology may increase the privacy risks, but also traditional crime reporting may imply the disclosure of sensitive data, like the identity of the reporting person or the accused one.

All in all, it would be safe to say that any innovation in policing – and community policing specifically – affecting the processing of personal data or having an impact on the privacy of both citizens and police officers, needs a serious prior assessment and deployment of corresponding organizational, technical and legal safeguards and measures.

Community Policing in the Time of Austerity

VICESSE, May 2017

During the first phase of INSPEC2T, interviews with members of LEAs, involved in Community Policing (CP) programs in eight European partner countries were conducted. The findings allow the comparison of socio-cultural, organizational, and legal aspects of the respective CP initiatives. The countries involved can be distinguished between the Anglo-Saxon Common Law tradition, where community oriented policing practices have been more engrained, and the Continental legal tradition, where one of the challenges has been to transfer notions of service-orientation into policing styles that historically grew out of a state-centered legalistic control paradigm.

Literature has identified a number of obstacles and challenges for implementing CP, such as a lack of a clear definition, indicating a wide variety of different CP goals and practices, tensions between the consent and control paradigm, as well as lack of institutional commitment (status of CP officers, resources, incentives), and doubts in respect to which communities can be successfully addressed and engaged, to name the most prevalent.

Community Policing programs exhibit varying stages of organizational implementation across specific INSPEC2T partner countries and the EU in general. While different social and legal cultures affect the way CP is implemented, the “maturity” of CP is largely owed to organizational and economic factors.

Budget reductions and austerity measures keep affecting not only law enforcement agencies and Community Policing departments, but the communities they are supposed to serve. The success of the INSPEC2T system will depend on these situational factors and bears the potential to mitigate these effects.

A number of European countries, including several partner countries involved in the INSPEC2T project, have been affected by different economic and political crises in recent years. Reduced budgets for law enforcement agencies in general, and CP programs in particular have been a common thread in the surveys among LEA practitioners. However, in many cases these reductions have been preceded by cuts to social welfare initiatives, organizations and institutions, which form an integral counterpart and point of contact in any successful community engagement endeavor.

To take the example of Greece, where in April 2015 the CP program was revived for the third time, banks were closed in July 2015 and in October 2015 a peak of refugee influx was reached of what will have become 800,000 refugees until the end of this year. Not only CP, but policing in general, became crisis policing rather. “Where there was one person in the street before, there are now ten.”, as one CPO put it (Interview, Greece, September 2015).

Other, although similar, effects were reported in countries with much longer traditions in CP, such as in Spain, UK or Northern Ireland: A cutback in CP officers results in larger areas to be covered by fewer members of the force, resulting in a decreased frequency of visits and contacts and a prolonged response time. In addition, CPOs are requested to take over other policing tasks resulting in a conflicted CP identity, which is deeply rooted in being able to solve problems effectively. On the other hand, cooperating institutions (social work, housing representatives) subject to similar cuts, are breaking away, meaning tasks can not only no longer be shared with Civil society organizations, but have to be taken on by the police, with an increase in distrust of citizens and a devaluation of genuine CP tasks within LEAs as a result. The downward spiral again results in an increase of psychiatric cases ending up with the police. If CP should “reflect the make-up of society”, their conditions give warranted concern for the communities they are supposed to serve.

Social and cultural challenges notwithstanding, these economic realities have to be taken into account when developing new tools for CP. ICT-mediated solutions are no silver bullet to solve these issues, and in the short term may even require more resources. However, they bear the potential to aid citizens and the community against this background, which must be the aim of INSPEC2T.

Stakeholder Engagement: The INSPEC2T Approach

Trilateral Research, May 2017

INSPEC2T aims to develop a sustainable framework for Community Policing (CP) that effectively addresses and promotes seamless collaboration between the police and the community. The project’s approach focuses on user-centric design and development, making stakeholder engagement a core activity that runs throughout the project. As the lead of Work Package 7 on Dissemination, Exploitation and Awareness Raising, Trilateral Research’s first task was to perform a stakeholder analysis, identifying the stakeholders that INSPEC2T will engage with throughout the project. We are big champions of the stakeholder engagement mantra of “Consult, early and often”, examples of which you will find in this blog piece.

The table below illustrates INSPEC2T’s key identified stakeholder groups and sub-groups. We have strived to ensure a friendly and professional relationship with those groups, which has been one of the keys to success of our work.

The INSPEC2T consortium have used a variety of creative and interactive methods to engage with the stakeholders listed in the above table, including (but not limited to):

  • A survey for the general public to understand if and how they are involved in CP.
  • Interviews and surveys with CP researchers and leading police officials from cities that have carried out CP and evaluated its effects, including Boston and Chicago (United States), Mannheim (Germany), and Lisbon (Portugal).
  • Consultations with the Stakeholder Advisory Group (SAG) and External Experts Group (EEG) at project meetings. The SAG consists of stakeholders involved in the field of Law Enforcement and Community Policing, and the EEG is comprised of external experts on Ethical, Legal and Privacy issues from Academic and Law Enforcement Agencies.
  • The projects five test cases taking place in Belfast (Northern Ireland), Valencia (Spain), Engomi (Cyprus), Preston (United Kingdom) and Groningen (The Netherlands). The test cases are being used to demonstrate and validate the features and functions of the INSPEC2T solution. They have been designed to enable the consortium to engage with end-users and gain their feedback on the INSPEC2T solution. The test cases will take place in two phases, with the first phase in the cities of Belfast, Valencia, and Engomi now complete. End-Users feedback from Phase 1 is now being incorporated and addressed to create an updated version of the INSPEC2T solution ready for the launch of phase 2 later this year in Preston and Groningen. Further information on the five test cases can be found here in the 4th INSPEC2T newsletter.
  • Dissemination and awareness raising activities, including:
    a) The INSPEC2T website, which is updated regularly with information, press releases and blog articles on the project’s activities.
    b) The INSPEC2T mailing list, which provides subscribed readers with project updates. If you would like to stay up to date on INSPEC2T’s activities and learn more about how we engage with stakeholders, please subscribe to our mailing list here.
    c)The distribution of dissemination materials, including the project brochures, posters, and newsletters.
    d)The presentation of INSPEC2T in a wide range of external meeting and events taking place worldwide. Further information on the events where INSPEC2T has been presented can be found here.
    e) Social media activities. INSPEC2T is active on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and SlideShare – we invite you to connect with us on these applications.

Engaging with stakeholders throughout the project’s lifetime will assist the consortium in ensuring that the INSPEC2T solution is fit for purpose and is designed to meet end-user’s requirements and expectations.

The INSPEC2T Maturity Model

TNO, May 2017

To facilitate the successful implementation and exploitation of the solution developed by INSPEC2T, the project proposes a maturity model for IT‐enabled community policing (CP). The maturity model is intended as a multi‐faceted tool. Its uses can range from planning to monitoring of Community Policing goals, be they at a strategic or operational level or of a technical, organizational, or a legal nature. Central to the maturity model is that it should reflect the philosophy of CP “built on the belief that people deserve and have a right ‘to have a say’ in policing in exchange for their participation and support”.1 As such, the maturity model fulfils two main functions.

  • Firstly, it helps assess the degree of sophistication (or maturity) of specific IT‐enabled CP systems. It does so by considering many dimensions, including socio-cultural; legal and ethical; technological and organizational. In other words, it assesses if the organization has the necessary vision, financing, staffing, specialist knowledge, technical assistance, communication means, legal support, social awareness, community network and support, etc. considered necessary for good IT‐enabled community policing.
  • Secondly, the model offers LEAs the possibility of measuring their goals for the future against already achieved maturity levels of IT‐enabled community policing. This “reality check” can help them reformulate goals, make changes in the allocation of resources if and where needed, monitor developments and the need for strategic changes over time, etc.

The INSPEC2T maturity model defines five progressive levels (or stages) for IT‐enabled CP (see figure below), ranging from a first, prospective stage to a more sophisticated transactional/networked stage. Each level, except the initial one, is incremental in nature, in that it incorporates and builds on the achievements of the previous one.

Figure 1. Proposed maturity stages for IT‐enabled community policing. Based on UN EGDI.

The methodology is accompanied by a series of recommendations regarding its use. These were formulated so as to reflect the user‐centric and user‐driven aim of community policing, the fundamentally dynamic character of this new type of policing; and to contribute to the remaining tasks of the project, most notably the baseline assessment estimating the maturity level of test case settings and that will help further refine the maturity model. The recommendations stress, among other issues, that the maturity model should be considered as a means to help the police monitor and fulfil its public tasks. The maturity model is explicitly neither intended, nor suitable for comparing and ranking adopters according to the level reached. Furthermore, the different maturity phases should not be seen as a necessary or mandatory progression for communities choosing to adopt this type of policing. Only the specific circumstances and requirements of each community dictate the maturity stage best suited for that community. Another recommendation underscores the long‐term commitment required, in term of resources (human and financial) both on the part of the police and the communities they serve, before any significant change and results can be expected. Additionally, the success of the adoption of IT‐enabled systems for the CP in the 21st century is likely to depend significantly on the degree to which they are incorporated in traditional policing practices and organizational structures rather than exist in isolation. That, however, should not mean an increase in the workload of LEAs.

The INSPEC2T maturity model methodology briefly described above, together with the use recommendations and several assumptions regarding IT-enabled community policing, are currently being tested at the pilot sites of the project. In a future blog entry, we shall update you on the results of the test.

1 Ken Peak, K & Glensor R. W. (2011), Community Policing and Problem Solving: Strategies and Practices, Pearson

Mixed police responses to social media use

DHPOL, April 2017

Police are often approached when citizens feel that the worst is coming to the worst, and that they are urgently in need of help and support. However, often in such circumstances citizens are not sure which service they actually require, and which number to call. That is why they tend to dial the emergency number, 110 in Germany. This impedes effective police work because more often than not the reason for the call does not address an emergency situation but an everyday problem or crisis, such as ‘my dog has run away’. Police in the German Capital Berlin estimate that at least 20% of 110 calls are not emergencies. Aided by a #NoNotruf (no emergency call) campaign Berlin Police have tried to address this issue, and have posted examples of the most absurd calls to create awareness of the 110 abuse (e.g.: “It’s been raining – can you give me a lift to the supermarket?” or “Do you know the visiting hours at the Saint Mary’s hospital?”). Additionally, the social media team of Berlin Police have responded to citizens questions as to which police service to contact when specific problems arise, in cases where help or assistance is requested but which do not qualify as emergency situations.

In a wider context, the police elsewhere have investigated how far the pressure on police emergency phones can be relieved, and how to simultaneously enhance police services for citizens’ concerns, worries, and requests. The cities of Frankfurt (Main), Hamburg, and Bonn have made available apps that provide maps with overviews of current security/traffic situations as well as police press releases. At the same time citizens can post messages. This is meant to help citizens to avoid risks or dangerous city areas and increase their feeling of safety, while a platform is supplied where people can raise their issues and share their worries and concerns.

Hesse State Criminal Police have critically commented upon such social media applications because the specific app is not state/police owned and organized. The departments warns that if police do not participate the risk of vigilante and fear-raising postings and fake reports may by far outweigh the advantages of such technologies. Original police responsibilities and tasks could be affected by trivial demands that block necessary and potentially life-saving or police activities or rapid response to crime/accidents. The app provider emphasizes positive neighbourhood effects but the danger of false alarms and unwarranted exaggerated citizens’ actions remains, if the validity of citizens’ postings /messages cannot be validated by police. INSPEC2T apps are entirely in the hands of law enforcement agencies, so that only information from police sources is being fed into the system. Incoming citizens’ reports are checked and omitted in cases where they do not represent the factual situation/events. With this service citizens can communicate with law enforcement agencies regarding neighbourhood issues (at the core of community policing) and receive advice, help or assistance without blocking police emergency services.

Business Intelligence and Analytics in INSPEC2T

IMC, April 2017

Business Intelligence is a data analysis process that presents actionable information intending to assist the relevant experts in decision making. The main role of Business Intelligence in a system is to

  • Collect, process and integrate data
  • Implement and execute queries against the collected data
  • Produce results that are available through reports, dashboards and visualizations.

Data in the scope of Business Intelligence processes, can either be historical information or real-time data which usually seeks to answer questions such as ‘What happened?’, ‘What is happening?’, ‘Why did it happen?/Why is it happening?’, ‘What will happen?’ and ‘What should have happened?’. Business Intelligence aims to expedite and improve decision making, optimize business processes and increase operational efficiency.

As for Business Intelligence and Analytics in the context of Community Policing, a considerable amount of attention has been focused lately on the so called Predictive Policing, a technique used by Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) that leverages Business Intelligence and Analytics to fight and prevent crime.

In illustrating how Business Intelligence and Analytics adoption is able to assist LEAs in their efforts to combat crime, many Predictive Policing practices can be highlighted. One of them is the generation of lists including persons that are likely to be involved in a crime as victims or as offenders, while another example is the prediction of potential crime scenes through incident report analysis and pattern identification.

The Business Intelligence and Analytics component of INSPEC2T (BI Component) serves multiple purposes in the system. One of these purposes is to compute a great variety of metrics on the activity and engagement of both citizens and LEAs in each communication channel of INSPEC2T. Another responsibility of the BI Component is to track user Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that will be used by other INSPEC2T entities so as to implement mechanisms that will encourage user participation in the INSPEC2T system. These functionalities intend to measure and present the commitment of both the public and the police to Community Policing, giving stakeholders the opportunity to apply corrective actions in case the results are not satisfactory.

The principal functionality of Business Intelligence in INSPEC2T is the computation of metrics providing information relevant to key variables of reported incidents. These key variables refer to the following parameters: incident type (the type of crime), who (the subjects involved in the crime), where (the location of the crime) and when (the time that the crime happened). The aim behind this functionality is to provide LEAs with insights into occurring and past incidents that may be related to each other, by analysing and correlating previously unconnected sources.

Last but not least, the Business Intelligence and Analytics component of INSPEC2T provides visualizations organized in dashboards to both the Public and the Secure Portal. Through the Public Portal, the users are able to access general statistics concerning various INSPEC2T system’s operations, while through the Secure Portal the LEA users are provided with more incident-specific information.

More specifically, examples of charts provided through the Public Portal Dashboard include:

  • Reports with Attachments vs Reports with No Attachments
  • Number of Incident Reports per Attachment Type
  • Anonymous vs Registered Users
  • Witnesses vs Victims

On the contrary, through the Secure Portal Dashboard the users are provided with charts such as the following:

  • Number of crimes per area
  • Number of incident reports per crime

Additionally, the Secure Portal users are able to customize the area they are interested in, as well as the time period that they wish to inspect.

INSPEC2T pilots outlook and NGCP conference

KEMEA, March 2017

lab

The INSPEC2T Project successfully passed its midterm review in November 29, 2016 in Athens Greece. Every Work Package leader presented the work accomplished during the first 18 months of the project. The consortium showcased the INSPEC2T results that have been achieved versus the initial objectives, referring to issues and challenges that they encountered and explained how they mitigated them and the actions undertaken to overcome them altogether. Moreover, they referred to the next steps and the action plan for proceeding with the work and tasks that are envisaged for the next phase of the project.

The INSPEC2T solution will be demonstrated using three pilots in predefined European cities. The first pilot will take place in the city of Belfast, Northern Ireland the week commencing on the 24th April 2017. The testing, lead by Ulster University, will last five days and will focus on the Holylands district of south Belfast. The next pilot will be hosted in Valencia, Spain between 8 to 12 May 2017.

lab

The second pilot is supervised by Valencia Local Police. The INSPEC2T solution in these two pilots will be challenged with incident reporting varying from sidewalk deficiencies, burglaries, neighborhood disputes, gender violence, noise pollution, drug abuse, antisocial behavior and traffic incidents.

lab

Moreover to the first two pilots, since March 2017, the INSPEC2T solution is utilized in Cyprus to promote the benefits of CP in a series of events. There are already three municipalities and one village where the INSPEC2T solution is being demonstrated. These are the municipalities of Egkomi, Kaimakli, and Strovolos and the village of Dali in the greater Nicosia Area. Cyprus will also host the third Stakeholder Advisory Group where the external to the project advisory committee will participate in a small-scale pilot at the premises of the European university campus in May 17-18, 2017.

lab

The second phase of the test case execution will take place in the city of Preston, Lancashire in November 2017, where the project will be tested both in controlled and live environments. The city of Groningen in the Netherlands will hold a pilot of nine weeks, starting in October and ending in December 2017. This pilot will focus on noise pollution and burglaries around student homes across the city districts.

lab

The INSPEC2T project, is also leading an EU cluster initiative with seven Horizon 2020 projects in the area of Community Policing and Urban Environment Security & Crisis Management. The outcome of this initiative is the Next Generation Community Policing International Conference which will take place in October 25-27, 2017 in the island of Crete in Greece. The scientific conference will comprise Experts in CP, Government Officials, High Ranking LEA Officers, Academics and security market representatives from the EU and overseas (USA, Canada, S. America. Within the framework of the conference, live demos of the technological solutions will take place bringing research into action!

Policing with the Community – Belfast Holylands

Ulster University, March 2017

The execution of the first INSPEC2T test case will take place in the city of Belfast, Northern Ireland week commencing 24th April 2017. Ulster University will serve as the lead for the Belfast test case on behalf of the INSPEC2T consortium. The INSPEC2T team has worked with the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), Belfast City Council as well as resident and community groups, business owners, landlords and student representative bodies to formulate a series of scenarios which not only serve to test and validate the features and functions of the INSPEC2T system but which also mirror the crime and security challenges within the Holylands district of south Belfast. The Holylands area has the largest volume of student population in Belfast and is characterised by large volumes of Houses of Multiple Occupancy (HMOs). The student population reside alongside permanent residents and this has the propensity to generate friction within the area – particularly at ‘pinch-points’ in the academic year namely, Fresher’s week, Halloween and most synonymously St. Patrick’s day (17th March) celebrations. Paradoxically, ongoing relations between permanent residents and students has tended to dominate local media coverage but this to some extent underplays the transformation in the social fabric within the area over the course of the last decade including the growth in ethnic communities which have tended to cluster in this part of the city.

Stakeholders within Belfast have embraced the INSPEC2T system with enthusiasm and whilst the motives and objectives of the stakeholders vary in terms of their priorities, a series of key themes are consistent in their prominence. A key priority within the Holylands is to improve communication flows between the police and the community. The transient nature of the student population as well as ethnic communities has made policing engagement problematic. The lack of ‘engagement’ is exacerbated by historic mis-trust of police within certain quarters of the community. It is clear that some communities are reluctant to report crime – which means that crime rates are under-reported in the area. The INSPEC2T App affords a medium of communication that may appeal to many of the harder to reach communities. Residents within the Holylands area feel that the INSPEC2T system (or a technology akin to that proffered by the INSPEC2T consortium) will improve the levels and transparency of crime reporting, and provide more robust statistics (including trend analysis) as a means of informing resource deployment. But the key features of interest include the ‘traceability’ of an incident report and also the command and control system which they hope will serve to improve accountability across statutory bodies/agencies as well as improving response times and decisiveness of action. INSPEC2T is viewed as a key component of a wider holistic intervention strategy which could serve as a basis for the revitalization and regeneration of the Holylands area.

Testing of the INSPEC2T system within Belfast and Northern Ireland will comprise a ‘closed’ test environment as well as a ‘live’ test within the Holylands district. Testing will commence on Monday 24th April and is scheduled for five days in total. More than 100 stakeholders comprising police officers, city council officials, political representatives, resident associations and students will participate in the test case.

Engagement in Lancashire

Lancashire Constabulary, January 2017

As a partner within the INSPEC2T project, Lancashire Constabulary is seeking to use the latest technology and policing practices to enhance our engagement methodology and processes. Lancashire Constabulary aims to involve people in active engagement to promote legitimacy and transparency, achieve operational and investigative benefits, and improve satisfaction and confidence. Effective public engagement feeds straight into the heart of the Constabulary’s mission – to keep people safe from harm, to make them feel safe, particularly the most vulnerable.

Our vision is to increase trust and confidence in Lancashire Constabulary through inclusive and meaningful engagement with communities, resulting in developing a shared and common purpose to keep people safe and make them feel safe.

Here in Lancashire Constabulary we take engagement seriously. It is a core function for local policing teams’ at street level and is a strategic priority.

  • Lancashire Constabulary encourages active participation by the public to influence activities and decision making;
  • Engagement is on the terms of the public, through a variety of channels;
  • Different methods of engagement are appropriate for different groups and for different themes

Lancashire Constabulary is leading the pilot of the INSPEC2T solution in Preston. The target group of the Preston pilot will be the 30,000 students from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN) who live and socialize in the city of Preston.

Officers in Preston are actively using both social media and our local messaging service Stay In The Know to engage with their communities and develop a shared and continued responsibility and a common sense of purpose. Lancashire Constabulary currently has a set of dedicated student channels, including Facebook, Twitter and a Weichat account to engage with people from the Chinese Community.

INSPEC2T will compliment this ongoing engagement, providing an additional platform on which to engage with a vast number of students in one go. The Constabulary will use the INSPEC2T platform to:

  • Identify issues and concerns relating to the student population;
  • Inform the student population about what we are doing and why we are doing it;
  • Publish news and information;
  • Appeal for help in solving crime and to find missing people;
  • Send out warnings and information to assist people in protecting themselves when the need arises;
  • Encourage conversation, feedback and challenge the Police where appropriate;
  • Deliberate conversations

Further information on the Preston pilot is available in the 3rd INSPEC2T newsletter, available here

The Multimedia Analytics Module in the INSPEC2T Platform

VICOMTECH-IK4, January 2017

As part of their role in INSPEC2T, Vicomtech-IK4 successfully integrated the re-identification of persons from images, tested under controlled real conditions, and is currently adding further functionalities on video and audio processing.

The person recognition feature of the INSPEC2T platform allows the police operators to get automatic notifications if the same person gets identified in images from different incident reports. This feature is useful for the re-identification of missing persons or suspect criminals. Currently, the multimedia analytics engine, forming part of the INSPEC2T platform, uses robust face detection models and deep neural networks to recognise the same faces, i.e. persons. Figure 1 presents photos, submitted within two distinct incident reports, in which the persons’ faces were automatically detected (see the regions highlighted by yellow rectangle). The corresponding correlation report (see Figure 2), generated automatically, informs on a person being re-identified, and provides a list of the corresponding incident reports. Figures 1 and 2 show captured screenshots of the Secure Portal, being the portal built by Aditess Ltd for dedicated access by police operators.


Figure 1: Automatic face detection in uploaded images (two cases are presented). The detected faces are highlighted with a yellow rectangle.


Figure 2: Correlation report relating two incident reports based on the recognition of persons. The images visible in Figure 1.

When videos enter as input to the multimedia analytics module for person detection, only a couple of representative images of each person visible in the video is extracted for further analysis that supports future re-identification tasks. The multimedia analytics module always respects personal data since no personally identifiable information is exchanged. In Figure 3 a video recording is depicted in which the camera moves from one actor to the other and back. Finally, the main representative images of the actor’s, as being considered in the following analysis tasks, are shown below (in grayscale).


Figure 3: Face detection in video (video scene is depicted on the top); only a representative set of faces is extracted (shown below).

Entering into the last development phase in order to have the entire platform ready for in –field tests, starting in the middle of April 2017, Vicomtech-IK4 has begun the final integration steps of audio analysis tools which will provide automatic audio transcription tools to the police operators and also allow for the raising of automatic alerts based on keyword search and detection of acoustic security events such as siren sound, screaming, broken glass, etc., (in cooperation with Aditess Ltd) by the INSPEC2T platform. The application of this technology focuses on the processing of any audio material uploaded by the user (including the audio track of videos) and will allow for automatic analysis in cases when the description of the incident and the situation is submitted by the user via an audio recording (see illustrative images in Figure 4).


Figure 4 Audio analysis tools being included in the INSPEC2T platform: automatic text transcription, keyword search and acoustic event detection (from top to bottom).

INSPEC2T – Supporting LEAs in facing the challenge of a new era

Valencia Local Police, December 2016

After a long implementation of community police officers into our cities, this relationship has strengthened and enhanced. It covers new competencies and overcomes certain citizen reticence in various fields. The police figure is fully involved in the daily life of the neighbourhood, and constitutes itself as a consultant and contributing figure of society.

Several relevant functions helped to identify the community police officers as an essential, logical, more preventive and less corrective, proactive police:

  • Conflict resolution without the need to go to court – Police mediation.
  • Close collaboration with educational establishments: preventive training on matters related to citizen security in order to create awareness and prevention (harassment, citizen coexistence, equality, etc.).
  • Protection of gender-based violence victims through discretionary surveillance of their homes.
  • Direct contact with social representatives, channeling their demands and responding to them.

Despite the above, the evolution of society requires a larger number of communication channels; not only personal “face-to-face” contact or connection by telephone with the community police officers. The communication of complaints and claims has long demanded the use of new technologies as a dynamic way of transmitting citizen concerns and as a bidirectional way of communication between the police and the plaintiffs.

INSPEC2T provides the opportunity to realise this channel of communication, which is absent nowadays. It helps to implement the new technologies in favor of an acceleration of the communication between the mentioned actors. The possibility of sending images and videos regarding criminal acts, and of communicating to the complainants the resolution of them in real time, leads to a new dimension of conflict resolution never seen before. All thanks to the speed with which the use of the Internet and social media has spread as a communication tool.

The main problem of our society is the digital divide that separates two generations of citizens that have lived in times of different conditions. The younger generations who have grown up with democracy, in a social environment of freedoms and options of integral access to the new technologies, have developed their life adjusting to the new technologies. On the other side, the older generations of our society are distant to technology platforms such as the Internet and this situation is hard to overcome.

This is why the challenge is doubled:

  • On one hand, it is our duty to improve the provision of the established police service, such as community police officers, through channels appropriate to the time in which we live, strengthening links with our neighbors using these new tools. Despite this, the effort to familarise citizens will be an obstacle that INSPEC2T will help us to overcome, as the beginning of a new direction in citizen-police bidirectional communication.
  • On other hand, the initial reluctance to use new communicative channels should be treated not with the aim of replacing the usual channels of contact, but adding new options for direct communication to existing ones.

INSPEC2T is the perfect tool to make a leap into the future which is ALREADY our present.

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The Geospatial Complex Event Processing Engine

SATWAYS, December 2016

The INSPEC2T Community Policing system aims to increase the collaboration of citizens with Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) by opening various digital communication channels and building communities with mutual interests. These communication channels will result in a complex event cloud in the form of reports, posts and comments originated by the INSPEC2T tools (Mobile application, Portal) and/or existing Social Media data that needs to be processed in an automated fashion in order to produce actionable intelligence.

It is recognizable that when dealing with multiple and disparate events the Complex Event Processing (CEP) technology can deliver high-speed event processing, correlation and identification. CEP patterns emerge from relationships between events attributes, cause (causal relation between events), time and aggregation (significance of an event’s activity towards other events).

Geospatial event processing requires the extension of CEP to include location attributes and spatial relations are used to combine location aware events and to create spatiotemporal patterns. In this context, the GEO Spatial Complex Event Processing (G-CEP) is an INSPEC2T backend component responsible for correlating events in time and space from different modules produced by other INSPEC2T backend and frontend components as well as external systems (e.g. legacy Computer Aided Dispatch, Social Media) and provide actionable intelligence to LEA operators.

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Figure 1: Complex rule definition process in the G-CEP Configurator application

The main responsibility of this component is the reception of disparate events –objects (Inbound Data Process), their processing as these object streams flow in and the production of (actionable) intelligence (Outbound Data Process). The correlation of these disparate events can occur via pattern matching that will be applied in real time using time windows and custom spatially enabled algorithms. Spatiotemporal patterns in the INSPEC2T domain are defined in the ESPER knowledge base pattern language via the G-CEP Configurator application and sent to a Rule Manager via a Message Broker.

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Figure 2: Correlation of spatio-temporal events in the G-CEP Configurator application

These patterns are used by the pattern matching process. As events are processed (by the Event consumer sub-component from the INSPEC2T Data Warehouse) with or without spatial attributes these are matched against the knowledge base of the Rule Manager. Events can be represented by various methods available in Java programming such as Java objects or Map interface implementations or Object-array or XML documents.

The Public Portal

INTRASOFT, November 2016

The Public Portal is a web portal that serves as a registration and promotion and interaction tool enabling the bi-directional communication between the stakeholders of the INSPEC2T Platform. More specifically the Public Portal offers a web environment which supports the citizen web users (both registered and anonymous) throughout the various activities of Community Policing (CP) by providing support for information provision, incident reporting, participation in communities and community engagement, as well as general CP information.

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The main functionalities offered by the Public Portal are the following:

  1. Incident reporting
  2. The citizens can report an incident that they have witnessed using a user friendly web environment. They provide structured information about the place, the location, the involved people and other information on the incident. They can also provide audiovisual material related to the incident. All information that is provided is instantly processed by the backend platform and is being forwarded to the Secure Portal for decision making. All sensitive information that is submitted is confidential and no information is provided to the public, unless the LEA decides to do so.

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  3. Participation in communities
  4. Both citizens and community police can participate in communities in order to discuss and exchange information and organize various social activities which will enhance the community engagement. The communities include geographical communities (i.e. people that belong to the same geographical area) as well as virtual communities (i.e. communities that share a common feature). The participation in communities can be free and open for the public communities, but also restricted and confidential for the private communities.

  5. Maintenance of a personal account
  6. Each user owns a personal account where they can define their personal information, their participation in communities as well as do other configuration such as enabling notifications, etc.

  7. Other functionalities
  8. The Public Portal provides a semantic search engine in order to enable the end users to search and retrieve information. It also provides authoring tools such as commenting and rating content using a multilingual environment.

Simulation Training as a useful tool for Law Enforcement Agencies (LEA)

EXUS, October 2016

Simulation training has been used as a training method, by many different agencies such as military, medical emergency response, aviation and Law Enforcement, especially for decision making. According to the literature (on training LEA officers), simulation training seems to be one of the most effective and beneficial ways for the participants to improve their critical decision making skills. With simulation, training sessions can be customized to suit each individual trainee. More importantly, the trainees have the opportunity to interact with the systems, facing different situations or cases based on empirical scenarios, and are allowed to make errors that in the real world could have fatal consequences. Another beneficial aspect of simulation training is that training sessions may be repeated as often as necessary and with different levels of difficulty, in order to advance the trainee’s skills in a gradual and consistent manner. Equally important is the fact that simulation training is a very cost effective alternative to live training, allowing (close-to) realistic training conditions with a limited budget.

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The LEAO Simulator is a tool intended to train INSPEC2T’s Law Enforcement Agency Operators (LEAO) in the use of the INSPEC2T platform. In order to ensure that LEA operators are trained in an environment as similar to real life as possible, a separate INSPEC2T installation is used only for training. This installation is populated with training data such as records of virtual citizens and virtual police forces for dispatching.

The Simulator injects incident reports in the information-bus of the INSPEC2T platform as if these were submitted by actual citizens via the INSPEC2T public portal or the INSPEC2T mobile application. Thus, there is no difference between the training environment and the live INSPEC2T platform where LEA operators will be called to respond to actual citizen reports and face real crisis situations.

The training is based on scenarios created by trainers and simulate real-life incidents. The trainers are designated LEA officers that have undergone the appropriate training themselves in using the INSPEC2T platform. The training sessions aim to offer trainee officers the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the INSPEC2T platform and to be able to use it in the most efficient manner when dealing with real incidents.

A scenario’s timeline is a sequence of reports, delays and signal-monitors. The reports are injected in the information-bus of the INSPEC2T platform used for simulation/training purposes. Delays may be added between reports in order to simulate as accurate as feasible a real incident reporting phenomenon made from the same or from different citizens reacting to an incident. A scenario may also include signal-monitors which are essentially delays in the execution of the scenario until a signal is transmitted by the INSPEC2T platform. This functionality simulates the situation when LEA operators transmit an ALERT broadcast in order to notify registered INSPEC2T citizens of an incident that has occurred in their vicinity and asking for assistance. The simulator can intercept such a signal and resume a scenario’s execution in order to simulate the expected increase of incoming citizen reports after an ALERT signal is broadcast.

Trainers can customize the training sessions on a per trainee basis, and even make ad-hoc changes while a session is running. A trainer may pause and resume a session, and move back and forth in the scenario’s timeline. At the end of the session the trainer scores the trainees’ performance, and provides feedback in the form of comments.

In conclusion, Simulation Training is a cost effective method that can play a significant role in the adoption and promotion of platforms like INSPEC2T and offers important benefits to the agencies such as,

  1. Trainee operates in a controlled environment
  2. Repeatability of sessions
  3. Training sessions could be over a number of days rather than a single day
  4. Tailor made sessions and scenarios per trainee
  5. Training sessions could take place any time (24/7/365)
  6. Gradual progress with scenarios of increasing difficulty

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The Choice of Architecture Methodology in the Design of the INSPEC2T System

CGI, October 2016

Architecture in the digital world is not just a good idea; it is an essential discipline to safeguard the quality and future proofing of modern, complex IT-based solutions. Therefore, it is essential to choose the most efficient methodology for the INSPEC2T system architecture design which is very complex by its nature.

The architecture of INSPEC2T is modular on open APIs, with flexibility to adapt and connect to existing police CAD/DBMS and provide a tailor-made (cherry picking) solution for the various EU LEA formations, i.e. Metropolitan, Municipal, National/Federal. As a modular design, the INSPEC2T system is composed of separate components that can be connected together. The beauty of INSPEC2T modular architecture is that we can replace or add any one component (module) without affecting the rest of the system.

Therefore, the choice of the architectural method, which is a recognized method in the Open Group Certified Architect program, that is used in INSPEC2T  is the proven Risk- and Cost-Driven Architecture (RCDA), an agile solution architecture approach, which is a relatively new approach. It was developed to close the gaps between enterprise and software architecture. Existing software architecture practices often are too limited in scope for the solutions that need to be architected. However, enterprise architecture practices are too heavy for the agility required to manage time pressures and frequently occurring changes and uncertainty. RCDA incorporates a number of aspects from agile software development practices, such as the use of a backlog of architectural concerns, to be frequently reprioritized based on economic factors like risk and cost.

During the INSPEC2T system architecture design, the RCDA method supported the architects throughout the process of interpreting stakeholders’ requirements, and subsequently designing and delivering the best fitting solution in a lean, mean and agile manner. Architectural concerns and architectural decisions are weighed throughout the process, and stakeholder requirements are constantly taken into account.

When viewed as a risk and cost management discipline, architecture does not need to obstruct agility. RCDA offers a proven approach to solution architecture that is well-suited to today’s agile end-users needs which is essential for INSPEC2T.

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Figure 1: RCDA’s architecting workflow: a backlog of architectural concerns is used to increase agility

Applying the RCDA method, setting up the INSPEC2T architecture different practice sets are identified (requirement analysis, solution shaping, architecture validation and architecture fulfilment).

The application of RCDA brings various advantages to INSPEC2T:

  • It smoothens communication between solution architects and business stakeholders – RCDA-trained architects communicate about architectural decisions and trade-offs
  • A clear and agreed set of architectural requirements for design decisions, using objective and economically oriented trade-offs, rather than hypes or personal preferences.
  • It reduces the risk of delayed delivery and budget overruns – RCDA sees architecture as a risk- and cost management discipline with economic awareness in the design process and avoiding “gold-plating”.
  • It enhances the quality of solutions – RCDA practices are CMMI (Capability Maturity Model Integration) compliant, and contain guidance for early and effective evaluation of quality attributes.
  • It creates transparency in costing structures – RCDA provides traceability from architectural requirements to the costing model for the whole solution and its parts.

At this stage the architecture design specifications of INSPEC2T are finalised and the INSPEC2T system development is underway. As per the nature of the RCDA architecture method, the INSPEC2T system is continuously applying the principles of the method until the system is complete and operational. Further information about INSPEC2T can be found here.

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Feel the pressure of a dispatch officer in the Resource Force awareness game

PlayGen, September 2016

Unless you’ve had to run a dispatch unit in a police force or have been an officer on the beat, it’s difficult to imagine what it might be like to be faced with the realities of limited resources. Problems like prioritising the dispatch of officers, when only a limited number are available, or opportunities that can be afforded through citizen’s providing timely information, or even what type of incidents typically come up in the local area, are rarely understood by those not directly involved in the day to day running of a local police force. As part of the INSPEC2T project, we’re developing applied games to raise awareness of the issues surrounding community policing and those we’re aiming to find solutions to through the project’s tools and platform. One of the games is called Resource Force, a dispatch officer resource management simulation game.

The Resource Force awareness game fulfils a number of roles. Firstly, it provides an interactive experience from the point of view of the dispatch officer, allowing the target audience players, initially the users at the INSPEC2T pilot sites, to get an understanding of the realities of prioritising limited police resources. Secondly it raises awareness of the role and benefits of citizen’s engagement in supporting policing efforts. Finally, by using relevant and topical scenarios, it serves to inform and raise awareness of the target audience of typical situations and cases where police involvement may or may not be relevant.

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Resource Force is a single player role-play turn-based survival game where the player takes control of a local police force. The player’s goal is to respond to topical incidents such as drugs, cybercrime, and minority discrimination as they occur by allocating limited police resources.

Players have the ability to call on citizens to support them in investigations, thereby increasing their chances of successful outcomes. Players come face to face with the harsh reality of overstretched resources, lack of critical information, and how support from citizens through INSPEC2T may avoid serious consequences and lead to positive resolutions.

The game is currently in its alpha phase, having been designed and developed for its initial round of testing, it will eventually be published publicly onto both iOS and Android, using their respective app stores, watch this space for more info as we complete our first round of testing and open up the games to the public.

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A mobile app as part of a decision support system

Aditess Ltd, August 2016

 

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Fig. 1 Example mockups (Resource Map and Panic Incident)

The INSPEC2T mobile application is developed around three main pillars: community engagement, security awareness and incident reporting. Since one of INSPEC2T’s objectives is the implementation of an interactive platform for the communication of LEAs with citizens, the mobile application facilitates use by both major stakeholders and therefore, for security and practical reasons, runs in two versions; one for use by citizens and one use by LEAs.

As a general practice, functionality on the mobile application is offered following a feature based approach where depending on the user’s consent and settings configuration only relevant features and information is communicated.

A.    Community Engagement

This pillar aids increasing trustworthiness with LEAs through opening a direct communication channel, but most importantly aids community building, bringing citizens with mutual interests and possible concerns closer, allowing them to act collaboratively on issues.

The notion of community in the platform is generic and encompasses any organized act where multiple parties, possibly sharing interests, are involved. Additionally, a community can be either: a) open, meaning that anyone can join without the need of approval or b) closed, where new members need to be added by existing members. This generic concept covers both communities generated by municipalities affecting users residing in the same area and also organized teams whose activity is influenced by the general community (i.e. taxi drivers, cycling teams). Communities can be created either by LEA or registered citizens.

Under community engagement lies also the ability of a citizen to directly contact their CP officer, either via phone or text, and the CP officer’s ability to broadcast message notifications to citizens registered under their community.

B.    Security Awareness

With respect to the critical aspect of security awareness, the INSPEC2T mobile application facilitates the functionality of crime maps, where a user can view the occurrence of crimes on a map and their proximity to their location with the Police being in control of what appears on the map; supporting the process of strategic planning.

Additionally, the application will be capable of implementing the mechanisms of transmitting/receiving push notifications according to the user’s location allowing the user to know if something happens in their surrounding area; this is both for sending warning messages as well as in cases where the police may request supplementary information related to an incident in progress. In this respect, and based on the principles of user roles and organised groups, upon appropriate configuration, registered citizens will be able to view the location of their co-members whilst the same is enabled by default for LEA roles; the option of tracking one’s location and reconstructing its path later on is also available upon request, with compliance to the applied legal framework.

C.    Incident Reporting

The third and final pillar of the INSPEC2T mobile application is focused on incident reporting. Incident reporting is done in a non-intrusive way in a friendly environment in an effort to make the user feel comfortable about what they are to report, especially considering cases where the reporter is also the victim of the incident. Due to this, the user is allowed to file its report anonymously also requesting them to indicate their relation to the reported incident so that the operator is aware of this in case the user requires any additional support, such as psychological support.

The INSPEC2T mobile application also allows the recording and supply of multimedia files including audio recordings, images, videos as well as text documents. Once these are supplied to the INSPEC2T platform, analytics processes the content and results are shown to the operator. Multimedia files might be added to the report at any time while the app also supports recording of evidence for use in future reports; understanding the fact that during the occurrence of an event the user may not be in position of filing a report or the payload of the files is large and may cause additional charges to the user’s data plan.

Finally, a key feature of the mobile app is a panic-button like functionality with allows reporting of an incident in very few clicks facilitating provision with minimal information.

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Supporting five keys in next generation community policing

TNO, July 2016

Community Policing is different from strict crime-control. Different from ‘law and order’ or ‘crime fighting’ approaches. Community Policing directs police activities towards the provision of services and the maintenance of order and peace. It affects first and foremost the relationship between police and communities.

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The technical solution of INSPEC²T (to be used through a public webportal, secure portal and mobile app) in the heart of the picture connects to five core policing processes which are crucial to introducing and maintaining Community Policing and which proceed iteratively. These five processes are depicted in the outer blue circles and refer to the following activities:

  • Engage. Firstly, the community and the police need to engage. Connections and trust are the basis for this engagement. The absence of continuous (i.e. ‘on-going’) engagement is not so much a technological factor but a human factor. Only with police officers’ reliable engagement will the INSPEC²T solution be able to bring Next Generation Community Policing.
  • Plan. Defining community problems and promising strategies to solve them. Subsequently, a plan has to be made: goals need to be specified and the progress of meeting these goals should be monitored. The Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle can be applied for describing planning activities.
  • Prepare. The next step is to prepare for Next Generation Community Policing. Rules have to be set and committed to, resources claimed and skills needed should be identified and developed or improved (e.g. through training).

Subsequently, the operational processes can start:

  • Daily security. Maintenance of order and peace. The basic elements of daily security include policing tasks such as enforcement, intake of emergency calls, emergency help and prevention.
  • Criminal investigation. The application of methods by which crimes are studied and criminals are apprehended after crimes occur. Criminal investigation activities are also evolving towards a next generation of ‘social crime solving’; more and more citizens are involved through social media and apps to help solve cases and solve crime in general.

For an adequate introduction and implementation of Next Generation Community Policing it is important to repeat this cycle and to perceive the process as being iterative. The iteration will ensure that Community Policing does not become a one-time event.

The INSPEC²T solution needs to respect local and (inter)national law, ethics and privacy (the outer grey square of the figure). In the INSPEC2T project substantial time and effort is dedicated to that aim.

Participants of Next Generation Community Policing can be individuals, communities, police or other institutions such as a municipality (depicted in the inner green circles). These actors should potentially all be able to work with the INSPEC²T system so they can interact with each other and participate in the community policing processes. However, it may depend on the context which actors actually are relevant to participate.

Depending on the objectives of an initiative, elements of the INSPEC²T solution can be included or excluded. For instance, a community could choose to only implement certain processes i.e. engagement by discussing crime problems or planning activities such as a neighbourhood get together. INSPEC²T supports in making these choices.

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Police, ICTs and Ethics

Eticas Research and Consulting, July 2016

Early ICTs in community policing an officer is using the ICAM application to map crime data, picture taken from https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles/icamprog.pdf

Early ICTs in community policing an officer is using the ICAM application to map crime data, picture taken from https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles/icamprog.pdf

Law enforcement has been evolving through innovative approaches like predictive policing, community policing or problem-oriented policing. All these strategies, theories and methodologies converge in a trend that pursues the optimization of the results through the exploitation of key resources like information.

What can Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) do for policing?

They may foster an inclusive and more ‘democratic’ policing that helps officers to better respond to communities’ needs and expectations by:
•    enhancing the way that people communicate their concerns
•    helping to identify specific demands in a community
•    introducing crowdsourcing techniques to gather information
•    increasing accountability and transparency of police agencies

However, ICTs in policing may also bring negative aspects to the table, like:
•    inequality in the access to technologies or in the distribution of benefits
•    the spread of rumours and false accusations
•    discrimination and illegitimate profiling of citizens

The application of new technologies in policing contexts ranges from the utilization of crime maps to the exploitation of popular social network sites like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or YouTube. Nevertheless, there are numerous ways in which security companies and organizations may use information and ICTs to be more competitive. A common trend in this realm is the development of websites and apps aimed at enhancing the security levels of certain communities, or the exploitation of existing platforms for this goal. These tools may encourage the participation of common citizens who feed the resulting platforms with their contributions.

Unfortunately, there have been important cases in which the utilization of ICTs ended up with unexpected results and failures, causing negative consequences.

In 2014, the New York Police Department (NYPD) launched the #myNYPD Twitter campaign and asked people to tweet photos with members of the department under that hashtag. The social media campaign was meant to shed a positive light on the work of the department and its officers in the city. However, contrary to NYPD’s expectations, people started using the promoted hashtag to tweet and share pictures of police brutality and abuse in the city, mocking NYPD’s social media effort.

Technologies themselves may incorporate and remark biases. The iPhone app SketchFactor, for example, was designed to let people crowd-source and share information about the “sketchiness” of neighbourhoods and report on people they deem suspicious or even dangerous. This app has since been criticized for perpetuating racism and discrimination, as it appears to facilitate the spread of stereotypes and the labelling of neighbourhoods based on subjective impressions and opinions. SketchFactor reports were not reviewed before they became visible to everyone, and thus, they could be quite biased or vague in tone.

For the same reasons, Microsoft’s Pedestrian Route Production app, which offers similar functions, has been viewed critically and consequently been dubbed as the “Avoid Ghetto” app.

In order to exploit information and communication platforms and to develop innovative tools in the context of policing, respecting at the same time the ethical and legal standards of society, it is necessary to analyse risks, to foresee the potential consequences and to evaluate the resulting tools at the different development stages taking into account a set of contextual, human and technological factors.

Contextual, human and technological factor to take into account:

The specific socio-cultural setting is an important transversal factor, since both the relevance and acceptability of a tool or strategy may be affected by this question. The community’s social structure and history (including community-police relations, police integrity and accountability) have to be taken into account and all the relevant stakeholders should be included in the approach. The profile of the target audience has to be likewise analysed in order to avoid digital divide risks and to ensure the accessibility of all the individuals, including vulnerable groups and minorities.

The corresponding resource allocation should be foreseen, like budget and expectable training needs, so the resulting technologies and tools can be actually useful and sustainable. These should also demonstrate their contribution to key values like social justice (avoiding discrimination and prejudice), to the empowerment of the citizens and to the promotion of trust both within communities and before authorities. Other crucial factors revolve around data management: the information quality (which affects the reliability of the input and output facts), information security (taking into account the sensitiveness level of the information managed), as well as data protection and privacy (especially concerning factors like the right to anonymity and data sharing issues while using social media). Finally, a safe approach demands the promotion of sensible practices when offering to the public to be involved in security tasks: crowd-sourced collaboration may be v aluable but safety goes first.

The INSPEC2T project is being assessed in different stages in order to avoid foreseeable failures like the circulation of inappropriate contents or the illegitimate utilization of the resulting services. Societal and technical partners are in frequent communication to co-design the corresponding tools and to comment the functionalities, ensuring that if unexpected risks arise, these can be successfully mitigated.

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Police and Social Media

DHPOL, June 2016

 

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The Internet, most of all social media, have affected our ways communicating. Regular contact and exchange via social media have become a matter of course and an integral part of this world. Since police units engage with citizens on a daily basis it is obvious that they have to keep abreast of the times and should be capable to use social media and modern technology adequately and responsibly.

In Germany, various police organisations have integrated the professional use of social media in their everyday work activities. Facebook profiles as representations of the respective agencies are now rather common among police institutions (e.g. Lower Saxony Police). Additionally, the use of “Twitter” has become more and more popular as a tool to support communication between police and citizens during major events (e.g. Bavarian Police at the G7 summit in 2015). This can be seen to symbolize regular and uninterrupted efforts to establish modernized communication avenues with citizens.

Obviously, there are advantages concerning the new communication and interaction between citizens and police. In spite of these positive effects for the participants, the risks do have to be considered as well. Due to current demands, there is a controversial public discussion in Germany about how to deal with smartphone camera/picture documentation and subsequent postings of rescue measures and police operations in social networks.

On April 13, 2016, a child was involved in a car accident while crossing a red traffic light near the Central Station of the city of Hagen. She suffered severe injuries. Rescue measures like the landing of the emergency helicopter were obstructed by sensation-seeking bystanders. Non-helping bystanders took videos of the victim and the rescue measures via smartphone without offering help or providing enough space for the arriving paramedics. Local Police had to use patrol cars to move bystanders out of the way of emergency vehicles. Police officers were asked by amateur cameramen in the crowd of bystanders to step aside so they would not block the camera perspective of their smartphone.

These events caused the Hagen Police Department to place a post on Facebook titled “shame on you Central Station crowds” (“schämt euch, ihr Gaffer vom Hauptbahnhof”). For incidents such as the accident with the child police urged citizens to leave their smartphones in their pockets and move on. This tragic incident demonstrates the crucial need for a differentiated and more critical examination of the “social media & public security” context.

Police may find social media information of citizens useful, or even send out a request for such data when it contributes to successful policing. Occasionally, police may be even dependent on hints from citizens or communities in order to solve cases. At the same time, there are moral, ethical and legal aspects that need to be adhered to constantly by all participants while using new information and support channels. In particular, informants should not place themselves in danger in order to obtain videos on their smartphones. Seeking picture or camera coverage cannot be an excuse for illegal action.

Currently, police practitioners and researchers of the EU Horiozon2020-project INSPEC2T are in the process of developing an app to improve and to intensify the exchange of communication between the police and the community. By using the app, it is possible for the citizens and communities to forward information to the police promptly and to simultaneously get feedback. Moreover the app contains news about the nearby environment, practical advice and a ‘serious game’ in the context of apps and community policing. By offering such a device, an additional communication platform can be provided and strategies of community policing can be enhanced. Following the (negative) example given above, it is of the highest importance to consider legal, ethical, and practical risks that may occur when new communication tools are used.

In order to protect both – the competences of the police and the citizens’ rights – a reflected and transparent approach is required to ensure a progressive development of communication between police and citizens.

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The importance of privacy and data security in the design of INSPEC2T

Trilateral Research, June 2016

 

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The widespread adoption of social media has led to novel ways of Community Policing (CP). Many police forces have a social media presence. Police use social media and other ICTs to engage with citizens, to include the public in law enforcement, for intelligence gathering purposes and to prevent harm. The INSPEC2T project will contribute to this rise in the use of digital technologies in CP by developing a real time two-way communication platform for citizens and police.

Social media and ICT use in policing presents the benefit of enhanced collaboration and communication with the community, which resonates particularly with the principles of CP. However, there is a risk that the use of social media and ICTs in CP could result in infringements of privacy and data security rights. One of the key priorities for the INSPEC2T project is to ensure that the system adequately addresses privacy protection and data security.

There are various privacy and data security implications and challenges that are presented by the use of social media and ICTs in CP, such as:

  • Loss of control over information when it is posted on social media
  • The potential for abuse
  • Data inaccuracies
  • Surveillance of citizens by police
  • Data breaches

A well publicised case that illustrates the dangers of social media in policing is the incorrect identification on social media of several people as being responsible for the Boston Marathon Bombing. This misinformation made it into the media, blogs and to the individuals’ families and employers. A similar case occurred following a bombing in Bangkok. Surveillance footage of the suspected bomber was released and Internet commentators mistakenly identified an Australian fashion blogger living in Bangkok as the perpetrator. Police interviewed him and searched his apartment for bomb making equipment; his private information was leaked online, including his address and immigration information. These are two clear examples where both the police and members of the public lost control over information once it was posted on social media.

In the context of the INSPEC2T system, privacy harms are not solely the concern of individual citizens. Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) can also be negatively affected by intrusions into privacy and data security. A loss of control over data or the way in which it is released could have serious negative implications for the reputation of LEAs, and could compromise the success of on-going police operations, as well as the safety and security of individual police officers. Responsible privacy and data security practices are therefore necessary in order to ensure the protection of both citizens and LEAs.

In order to ensure that the INSPEC2T system adequately addresses privacy protection and data security we have identified the fundamental privacy principles that are particularly relevant to the tool and have explored various potential solutions that may be implemented in order to give effect to these privacy principles. A combination of technological solutions and procedural measures are recommended in order satisfy privacy and data security obligations and concerns. By providing bespoke design recommendations that are to be applied in the design and development of the INSPEC2T system, we are ensuring that privacy and data security will be embedded into the final product.

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What do end users actually want? What should INSPEC2T deliver?

KEMEA, May 2016

 

Getting the user needs right is a challenge. This is true to for all commercial products but it is an essential requirement for delivering a successful EU research project. First, and probably one of the trickiest parts of all, is the determination of who your users actually are! For us, categorization was done to the following user groups:

  • blog pic 1General Public
  • NGOs (Non Governmental Organisations) / Community Workers
  • Police Colleges
  • LEAs (Law Enforcement Agencies)
  • SAG (Stakeholder Advisory Group)

Designing a solution to cope with the demands of the Next Generation of Community Policing is one of our main goals. One of the first steps we had to take was to understand the present situation.

Since only 38% of respondents are satisfied with current Community Policing Programs, it is apparent that there is a gap here for a Next Generation Community Policing Program like INSPEC2T to fill.

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For doing so, we devoted time and effort to extensive desktop research, we conducted focus group discussions and interviews with CP pioneers from all over the world and analyzed four pan European online surveys.

The answer we derived of what it will take to deliver Successful Community Policing programs was:

  • improve the quality and increase the transparency of communication between citizens and police
  • allow citizens’ needs to be addressed more rapidly through interactive communications based on social media
  • increase understanding and promote  collaboration between different community groups and the Police

Our solution is called INSPEC2T and it aspires to foster a collaborative environment where citizenry and LEAs are cooperating for the sake of the community…

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Bringing together police and citizens

VICESSE, Vienna, May 2016

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What used to be your local cop, is today’s “Community Policing” – some remarks on policing in Austria and the new planned initiative.

 

The monopoly on legitimate use of force, it is said, lies with the state. However, security is a task of society at large, something concerning all of “us”. Let’s put the question aside of who belongs to us (and who doesn’t). How should security as a task be perceived in modern societies? What is hidden behind this scintillating term, and how does the current debate on “security citizens” (Sicherheitsbürger) in Austria fit into a framework of “Community Policing”?

Community Policing has been a much discussed concept for a while now. It stands in line with other modern approaches like “intelligence led” or “predictive policing”. It follows older ones that’ve been focused primarily on fighting crime and repressive tasks.

As suggested by the terminology, this concept originates from an Anglo-Saxon context, where a different state of affairs holds sway; the main difference being a stronger service orientation of police organization and identity. The police take responsibility towards their citizens – the “community” -, they makes themselves available to answer citizens’ criticism, and has to address their needs. Consequently, members of police forces need to reflect the diversity of their communities.

Reduced to its common denominator, police need to get closer to their communities – not the other way around! The idea of a “security citizen”, which has been put forward, has raised some warranted suspicion by its critics; its aim being to bring the citizen closer to the police, being alert in one’s surroundings and diligently reporting to the police. The citizen as the police’s right-hand man, its civilian eyes and ears?

Community Policing stands for a different philosophy: An understanding of policing that promotes an informal, low-threshold contact with its community. It is the antithesis to the police of “cop culture”, an enclosed elite of crime fighters, reacting to any kind of criticism of its practices by stonewalling. Citizens and the police need to meet at eye level, and “community” to include the people who give cause for complaints. To achieve this in a virtual setting is the aim of INSPEC2T.

Good policing has always been Community Policing. The proverbial, and somewhat romanticized, local cop has been filling this role. He was available, helping out, might have turned an eye, and, with some luck, was able to resolve a dispute or conflict.

There is, however, no way back to this nostalgic place. The task of a modern police today is – in a society resembling more a patchwork of minorities than one homogenous group – to ensure mutual recognition of differences and preventing escalation of conflicts within the community. Its prerequisites are flexibility in modes of intervention and a humane attitude – if it serves the purpose, call it “Community Policing”.

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