The article examines the intersection of two emerging developments: the increase in surveillance and the massive exploration of “big data.” Drawing on observations and interviews conducted within the Los Angeles Police Department, Sarah offers an empirical account of how the adoption of big data analytics does—and does not—transform police surveillance practices.
She argues that the adoption of big data analytics facilitates may amplify previous surveillance practices, and outlines the following findings:
Discretionary assessments of risk are supplemented and quantified using risk scores.
Data tends to be used for predictive, rather than reactive or explanatory, purposes. (Here, Crime Tech Weekly would want to differentiate between predictive analytics and investigation analytics)
The proliferation of automatic alert systems makes it possible to systematically surveil an unprecedentedly large number of people.
The threshold for inclusion in law enforcement databases (gang databases, criminal intelligence data, etc) is lower, now including individuals who have not had direct police contact. (Here again, Crime Tech Weekly would point out that adherence to criminal intelligence best practices vastly reduces this likelihood)
Previously separate data systems are merged, facilitating the spread of surveillance into a wide range of institutions.
Based on these findings, Sarah develops a theoretical model of big data surveillance that can be applied to institutional domains beyond the criminal justice system. Finally, she highlights the social consequences of big data surveillance for law and social inequality.
The full PDF report can be downloaded via Sage Publishing by clicking here. Or, if you have general comments or questions and do not wish to download the full version, please feel free to contact us through the form below. Crime Tech Weekly will be happy to weigh in.
The investigative units of law enforcement agencies all around the world face many of the same challenges. Chief among those challenges is the fact that budgets are tightening, while resources are becoming more and more scarce. Even in the face of reduced funding, investigators are asked to deliver higher levels of service in their quest to solve and deter crime.
The key to doing ‘more’ with ‘less’ in law enforcement is really no different than in any other industry. That is, deploying resources in the most effective manner possible for the maximum value possible. The trick is using what the agency already knows to determine what the future may hold. What that all boils down to is Big Data Investigation Analytics.
Data in Law Enforcement comes in many forms, and is typically stored in disparate silos. Arrest records, calls for service, criminal intelligence, field reports, human resource data, telephone records, case management files, and so on. Together, the data from those systems can represent a virtual goldmine of investigative information if used correctly.
‘Correctly’ is the operative term, of course. The ability to turn these large data stores into actionable investigation intelligence requires more than a simple data warehouse or data mining tool, and for the most part police departments recognize this need. They understand that their data holds the key to understanding the hidden connections between people, places, and things – the lynchpin of any successful investigation.
For years, law enforcement agencies and commercial organizations have built data mining tools and data warehouses. Unfortunately, these analytical techniques are no longer sufficient in an age of rapidly growing data. Moreover, much of the data that investigators need to access is unstructured text – word processing documents, narratives, search warrants, witness statements, email text, and more. By applying big data text analytics, investigators can begin to extract actionable insights from both structured and unstructured data.
Big Data Investigation Analytics – such as those provided by Virginia based Visallo and California’s Palantir Technologies – are two examples that provide a powerful indexing architecture allowing investigators to find non-textual data, including multimedia files such as 911 calls, interrogation videos, and images. This architecture helps investigators find things that they simply could not find otherwise.
Finally, world-class investigation analytics provide a flexible graph visualization tool, as well. This user interface allows investigators to organize data through a variety of layout options, find hidden and non-obvious relationships between entities, and perform a variety of what-if scenarios.
When paired with the robust investigative case management and criminal intelligence systems available from Crime Tech Solutions, big data investigation analytics build a foundation upon which investigators can solve more crimes, more quickly.
Without advanced investigation analytics, agencies often find themselves looking for a needle in a haystack. In fact, too often the needle is broken into several pieces spread across multiple haystacks. To simplify these tasks, investigative agencies must deploy the correct analytical technologies which have become a key element of doing more with less in the global investigation market. For more information on how Crime Tech Solutions and Visallo are changing the law enforcement analytics landscape, please contact us below!
Criminal intelligence analysts provide a key element of effective law enforcement, at both the tactical and strategic levels. Analysts study information related to suspects, trends, known criminals, and more. Through a process of gathering evaluating this information, trained intelligence analysts identify associations across various illegal activities over many locations.
Government decisions and policies are heavily influenced by the insights provided by the criminal intelligence analyst, and police investigations use the intelligence in support of their missions. To that end, the main functions of criminal intelligence analysts include:
Supporting law enforcement activities and large-scale investigations
Providing an ongoing analysis of potential threats to public safety
Helping senior officials and policy makers to deal with ever-evolving challenges and uncertainty
There are both tactical and strategic elements to the role of the criminal intelligence analyst. These categories differ with respect to the minutia of details, and the ‘customer’ or end-user of the intelligence.
A. Tactical Criminal Intelligence
Criminal intelligence of a tactical nature attempts to achieve a specific outcome related to law enforcement. Perhaps a disruption of organized criminal groups, a search warrant, seizure of assets, or an arrest.
Tactical criminal intelligence includes:
The identification of potential connections between people, places, and other entities of interest… and their potential involvement in unlawful activities;
Recognizing and reporting important gaps in intelligence data;
Designing and creating detailed dossiers of suspected or confirmed criminals.
B. Strategic Criminal Intelligence
Strategic analysis of criminal intelligence is expected to continuously educate policy makers and senior officials about current and evolving criminal activities and patterns. The benefits of strategic analysis tend to be realized over a longer period of time than does tactical analysis.
Emerging criminal trends and activities sit at the core of strategic intelligence analysis. The intelligence can provide advanced warning of potential threats, and can provide law enforcement officials with the information required to prepare their agencies for emerging illegal actions.
Strategic criminal intelligence analysis includes the recognition and documentation of:
Evolving trends and patterns of illegal activities
The possible effect of demographics, technologies, and evolving socio-economic factors on criminal activities
D. Abuse and Misuse of Criminal Intelligence
The misuse and/or improper storage and unauthorized access to sensitive criminal intelligence data has always been a concern of civil liberty advocates, and has recently been brought to light again with stories regarding misuse of California’s CalGang database. Given the diverse and growing requirements of criminal intelligence management, certain best-practices and policies have evolved in order to help law enforcement agencies collect, store, and disseminate this important criminal intelligence without invading individual rights to privacy.
E. Best Practices for Criminal Intelligence Management
Specifically, 28 CFR Part 23 is a federal regulation that provides guidance to law enforcement agencies on the standards for implementing and operating federally funded criminal intelligence systems that cross jurisdictions. The protection of individual constitutional rights and civil liberties sits at the core of 28 CFR Part 23. Every American, of course, is afforded a reasonable expectation of privacy. The guidelines outline specific methods to gather, store, disseminate, review, and purge criminal intelligence data.
Recommending the use of these guidelines is The National Criminal Intelligence Sharing Plan (NCISP). NCISP suggests that the regulations ensure that the operations of a criminal intelligence system protect the rights and privacy of individuals and organizations. Importantly, The NCISP suggests that criminal intelligence groups adhere to 28 CFR Part 23, irrespective of whether or not the system was implemented using federal funds and grants.
The criminal intelligence guidelines prescribed by 28 CFR Part 23 have been identified as the minimal policies and rules for sharing data across law enforcement agencies.
The best practices prescribed within the regulation include specific guidelines related to:
Proper procedures for querying, reviewing, sharing, validating, and purging of criminal intelligence data.
Multi-jurisdictional memorandums and participation agreements (if applicable).
The gathering and submission of criminal intelligence information.
The definition of key criminal intelligence terminology, including ‘the right to know’ and ‘the need to know’.
The specific activities that may or may not be maintained within the criminal intelligence system.
Individual rights to access the criminal intelligence systems.
Security requirements including the auditing and inspection of data.
F. An Excellent Solution
IntelNexus™ from software developer Crime Tech Solutions is an affordable, yet powerful criminal intelligence management system that complies with the regulations and best practices set forth in 28 CFR Part 23. Whether or not an agency (or agencies) absolutely require compliance to 28 CFR Part 23, the software lays out a framework and enforces the principles that should be incorporated into the criminal intelligence database. IntelNexus offers the foundation for gathering, storing, maintaining, sharing, authenticating, and purging criminal intelligence while ensuring the privacy and civil rights afforded to us all.
September 16, 2016 – (Leander, TX) Crime Tech Solutions, a fast-growing provider of low cost / high performance crime fighting software and analytics is delighted to announce the addition of Jamie May as senior analyst and strategic advisor to the company.
“To me, Crime Tech Solutions represents a truly innovative company that understands how to develop and market very good technology at prices that most agencies can actually afford”, said Ms. May. “I’m looking forward to being part of the continued growth here.”
In her role with the company, Ms. May will interact with customers and prospects to help align the company’s solution strategy with market and user requirements.
Law enforcement agencies everywhere are tasked with reducing and investigating crime with fewer and fewer resources at their disposal. “To protect and serve” is the highest responsibilities one can sign up for, particularly in light of recent well-publicized criticisms of police by activists in every city.
That responsibility weighs even heavier in a world with no shortage of criminals and terrorists. There’s never enough money in the budget to adequately deal with all of the issues that face an individual agency on a daily basis. Never enough feet on the street, as they say.
New Tools for Age-Old Problems
Perhaps that’s why agencies everywhere are moving to fight crime with an evolving 21st century weapon – law enforcement software including investigative case management, link and social network analysis, and, importantly, crime analytics with geospatial and temporal mapping.
Crime analytics and investigation software have proven themselves to be valuable tools in thwarting criminal activity by helping to better define resource allocation, target investigations more accurately, and enhancing public safety,
According to some reports, law enforcement budgets have been reduced by over 80% since the early 2000s. Still, agencies are asked to do more and more, with less and less.
Analytics in Policing
Analytics in law enforcement play a key role in helping law enforcement agencies better forecast what types of crimes are most likely to occur in a certain area within a certain window of time. While no predictive analytics solution offers the clarity of a crystal ball, they can be effective in affecting crime reduction and public safety.
Predictive analysis, in essence, is taking data from disparate sources, analyzing them and then using the results to anticipate, prevent and respond more effectively to future crime. Those disparate data sources typically include historical crime data from records management systems, calls for service/dispatch information, tip lines, confidential informant information, and specialized criminal intelligence data.
The Five W’s of Predictive Analytics
Within this disparate data lie the 5 W’s of information that can be used by crime analysis software to build predictions. Those key pieces include:
Arrest records – who committed crimes
Geospatial data – where crimes have occurred
Temporal data – when crimes have occurred
Statistical data – what crimes have occurred
Investigation data – why (and how) the crimes occurred
Using the 5 W’s, agencies are able to gain insight and make predictions about likely future criminal behavior. For example, if a certain type of crime (what) tends to occur in ‘this’ area (where) at ‘this’ time (when), and by ‘this’ type of individual (who) for ‘this’ reason (why)… it would be wise to deploy resources in that area at that time in order to prevent the incidents from ever occurring. This, of course, is a dramatic over-simplification of the types of analytics that make up predictive policing, but illustrates the general concept well.
Although criminals will always try to be one step ahead of the law, agencies deploying predictive analytics are able to maximize the effectiveness of its staff and other resources, increasing public safety, and keeping bad guys off the street.
It’s “precrime” meets “thoughtcrime.” China is using its substantial surveillance apparatus as the basis for a “unified information environment” that will allow authorities to profile individual citizens based upon their online behaviors, financial transactions, where they go, and who they see. The authorities are watching for deviations from the norm that might indicate someone is involved in suspicious activity. And they’re doing it with a hand from technology pioneered in the US.
As Defense One’s Patrick Tucker reports, the Chinese government is leveraging “predictive policing” capabilities that have been used by US law enforcement, and it has funded research into machine learning and other artificial intelligence technologies to identify human faces in surveillance video. The Chinese government has also used this technology to create a “Situation-Aware Public Security Evaluation (SAPE) platform” that predicts “security events” based on surveillance data, which includes anything from actual terrorist attacks to large gatherings of people.
The Chinese government has plenty of data to feed into such systems. China invested heavily in building its surveillance capabilities in major cities over the past five years, with spending on “domestic security and stability” surpassing China’s defense budget—and turning the country into the biggest market for security technology. And in December, China’s government gained a new tool in surveillance: anti-terrorism laws giving the government even more surveillance powers and requiring any technology companies doing business in China to provide assistance in that surveillance.
The law states that companies “shall provide technical interfaces, decryption and other technical support and assistance to public security and state security agencies when they are following the law to avert and investigate terrorist activities”—in other words, the sort of “golden key” that FBI Director James Comey has lobbied for in the US. For obvious reasons, the Chinese government is particularly interested in the outcome of the current legal confrontation between the FBI and Apple over the iPhone used by Syed Farook.
Bloomberg reports that China is harnessing all that data in an effort to perform behavioral prediction at an individual level—tasking the state-owned defense contractor China Electronics Technology Group to develop software that can sift through the online activities, financial transactions, work data, and other behavioral data of citizens to predict which will perform “terrorist” acts. The system could watch for unexpected transfers of money, calls overseas by individuals with no relatives outside the country, and other trigger events that might indicate they were plotting an illegal action. China’s definition of “terrorism” is more expansive than that of many countries.
At a news conference in December, China Electronics Technology Group Chief Engineer Wu Manqing told reporters, “We don’t call it a big data platform, but a united information environment… It’s very crucial to examine the cause after an act of terror, but what is more important is to predict the upcoming activities.”