Digital Convergence Propels Police Transformation
By James Slessor, managing director, Accenture police services
"As the Radio 4 broadcast Bobbies on the Tweet recently confirmed, developing a public conversation is become an increasingly important aspect of frontline policing. Whether used as a crime fighting tool to aid investigations, or as a communications method to engage the public, social media channels can help the police engage with an even wider audience. Twitter is a popular interaction mode between police and public and its take up is impressive. Indeed, the Accenture research "Preparing police services for the future" notes that the National Spanish Police Tweetredada program has 340,000 Twitter followers and almost three million YouTube videos.
Yet the adoption of social media is only one element of a rich set of technologies that are ripe for police exploitation. Technologies--such as mobility, analytics and biometrics--are helping more effective and informed police practices to emerge. For instance:
• Mobile apps in the digital age are moving beyond simple form filling apps and have the power to become analytics tools delivering real- time insight to officers, wherever they may be. The ability to integrate with both force and partner agency systems not only aids investigations but also enables officers to have more effective interactions out in the communities they serve. Spain's Guardia Civil operational policing system allows more than 85,000 force members to access the system via mobile devices, managing between 20,000 and 25,000 daily connections, transmitting more than 4 million complaints, and recording more than 30 million citizen safety enquiries per year.
• Analytics tools are growing more sophisticated and being applied to more complex data sets enabling greater predictive insights and supporting improved proactive operations. Previously "hidden" connections between disparate events are being exposed, resulting in new lines of enquiry and investigative opportunities. The City of Memphis uses multivariate analysis in crime mapping, such as weather and school data, to predict where certain crimes may occur. In this way, officers are in the right places, on the right days, at the right times, resulting in a 23 percent decline in violent crime and 26 percent decline in property crime.
• Multi-modal biometrics alongside facial recognition and video analytics technologies are creating a new age of digital forensics. Moving beyond traditional finger printing and DNA matching, these technologies are helping to reinvent "identification" within policing--whether in investigations, or in custody, proactive watch listing, or in support of surveillance activities. The United States border police program, US-VISIT, uses an automated 10-fingerprint system and has 45,000 watch list matches that a simple two-print could not manage. The system is having a significant impact on crime, catching 50 wanted criminals and five murderer suspects every day.
From Minority Report to Majority Retort
Digital convergence means that as various technology worlds collide, a new era of policing can emerge. While uncertainties exist for police officers in how best to solve crime, protect citizens and help communities, there is little doubt that the future of policing is one that involves being digitally-enabled."