Prior to the September 11th terrorist attack in 2001, many small and rural law enforcement agencies in the USA – along with more than half of the national population – were not yet connected to the internet, mostly due to a perceived lack of necessity.
Sadly, terrorist groups were ahead of the national tipping point and had used the internet to coordinate this complex criminal act. This prompted many law enforcement agencies to follow suit and ramp up their own intelligence and technological capabilities.
Marianne Vosloo who heads up Technology and Innovation for the Australian Federal Police (AFP), believes that in today’s world of law enforcement, a reactive, or ‘like for like’ approach to technology adoption is not enough.
“The scale and increasingly complex nature of organised crime demands equivalent sophistication in crime prevention”, says Ms. Vosloo, ahead of the National Policing Summit.
“Thanks to the pervasiveness of the internet – and other enablers like cryptocurrency and social media – crimes such as fraud, child exploitation, terrorism and cyberwarfare have never been more accessible to criminals. In combating these big-ticket items and getting ourselves ‘future-ready’, we need to be proactive and challenge our current way of thinking and working”.
“There is often a tendency to go down the same road we have always been down because it works. But in today’s threat landscape we need to change that mindset and be more innovative in how we fight crime”.
Ms. Vosloo believes the first step is to move away from traditional codes of conduct when addressing digital enhancement. “From an operational perspective ‘command and control’ forms part of a successful recipe”, she adds. “But if we apply that style of working in an innovation and technology context, we won’t get very far. It may sound cliché, but we need our teams to think outside the box; to be bold and courageous in trying new approaches, as I can ensure you that this is what the criminals of today are doing”.
Ms. Vosloo goes on to highlight how advances in artificial intelligence (AI) are leading the technology charge in policing, worldwide. “We’ve seen some really exciting applications of AI within law enforcement, globally. AI is helping police to more effectively predict crime, make more accurate decisions; and in the case of the AFP, mitigate the risk of post-traumatic stress disorder by analysing and classifying offensive video content, limiting the time members need to spend viewing the material. This is revolutionary work”, she says.
However, Ms. Vosloo adds that it’s not just high-profile, big-ticket crimes that warrant a greater focus on innovation and advancement. “Even regular activities like running a license plate or a criminal record check can compromise situational awareness, putting officers at risk. Through advances in technology we can mitigate that risk by, for example, adding in speech recognition capabilities so that the officer’s gaze can remain on the scene of the crime”, she says.
Presenting at the National Policing Summit – 17-18 September 2018, Canberra, Marianne Vosloo will discuss some of the advances on the AFP’s technology roadmap that are being used to complement everything from Federal law enforcement initiatives to high visibility policing (HVP).