Tag Archives: biometrics

Policing in my hometown (Winnipeg) gets smart

Posted by Douglas Wood, Crime Tech Solutions

As a native Winnipeg boy, this article in the Winnipeg Sun caught my attention…

1297227913993_ORIGINALThe government of Manitoba, Canada won’t be making good on its 2011 election pledge to put an extra 50 cops on the streets to combat crime and keep Winnipeg neighborhoods safe.

But it’s not because the province is unwilling.  It’s because the city of Winnipeg doesn’t want more cops.

That may seem odd for a city with the highest violent crime rate in the country. But as policing resources shift away from boots on the ground to more crime-analysis based law enforcement, it’s not more sworn officers the Winnipeg Police Service wants, it’s more resources for so-called smart policing strategies.

“The interest of Winnipeg Police Service is not in officers so much as in crime analysis and smart policing and they have a different approach,” Justice Minister Gord Mackintosh told a legislative committee on Monday. “They do not have an interest in just adding more.” The New Democratic Party promised voters during the last provincial election that it would fund 50 additional officers if re-elected. But four years later, the province has only funded 23 more officers. And there won’t be any new funding for more officers, said Mackintosh.

“The commitment was 50 more officers and we’re now at the equivalent of 23,” said Mackintosh. “The city has requested that the election commitment not be implemented as enunciated during the campaign.” It’s a major shift from years past when provincial parties regularly pledged to put more cops on the street by directly funding the Winnipeg Police Service. The former government was the first to make the promise in 1995 when it promised 40 more police officers for Winnipeg.

The province now directly pays for the salaries and benefits of 172 Winnipeg officers, according to a 2014 report.

And while that funding is expected to continue, the city doesn’t want more money for cops. They want it to help fund other aspects of policing, including more preventative measures, said Mackintosh.

“This is a different approach that is gaining momentum not just here in Winnipeg but in other jurisdictions across the continent,” said Mackintosh. “It’s really about hot spot policing now, it’s about data analysis, looking at the types of offences where they occur, the time of day.” Winnipeg police board chairman Coun. Scott Gillingham confirmed the city isn’t looking for more funding to expand the police complement further. He says police are looking to hire more crime analysts, which can be civilians, not more cops.

“The opportunity and the need would be to focus on preventative measures through things like the smart policing initiative (and) intelligence-led policing,” said Gillingham.

What police also need, though, is more help with the additional workload they’ve taken on as they deal increasingly with mental health patients, Child and Family Services cases and soaring domestic abuse calls.

Police may be moving towards a more data-based approach to law enforcement, but they’ve also become a service of last resort for a growing number of tough social service cases, including tracking down chronic runaway wards of the state on a regular basis.

Which means they’re going to need a lot more support from provincial agencies to pick up some of that slack.

Winnipeg police may not need more boots on the ground. After all, Winnipeg does have the most cops per capita of any Canadian city, and has for some time.

But the province is going to have to figure out how to better manage the social service cases that are landing increasingly at the doorstep of police.

Professor urges increased use of technology in fighting crime

risk_terrain_modeling_resizedPosted by Crime Tech Solutions

This article originally appeared HERE in Jamaica Observer. It’s an interesting read…

A University of the West Indies (UWI) professor is calling for the increased use of technology by developing countries, including Jamaica, to assist in the fight against crime.

Professor Evan Duggan, who is Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, said there have been “amazing advancements” in information and communications technologies (ICT), over the past six decades, which offer great potential for improving security strategies.

The academic, who was addressing a recent National Security Policy Seminar at UWI’s Regional Headquarters, located on the Mona campus, pointed to Kenya as a developing country that has employed the use of inexpensive technology in its crime fighting initiatives.

“Potential applications and innovations have been implemented through the use of powerful but not very expensive technologies that have allowed law enforcers to make enormous leaps in criminal intelligence, crime analysis, emergency response and policing,” he said.

He pointed to the use of a variety of mobile apps for crime prevention and reporting, web facilities, and citizen portals for the reporting of criminal activity.

Professor Duggan said that in order for Jamaica to realise the full benefit of technology in crime fighting, national security stakeholders need to engage local application developers.

“I would enjoin our stakeholders to engage the extremely creative Jamaican application developers, who now produce high quality apps for a variety of mobile and other platforms. I recommend interventions to assist in helping these groups to cohere into a unified force that is more than capable of supplying the applications we need,” he urged.

The UWI Professor pointed to the Mona Geoinformatic Institute as one entity that has been assisting in fighting crime, through analyses of crime data as well as three dimensional (3D) reconstruction of crime scenes; and mapping jurisdictional boundaries for police posts and divisions, as well as the movement of major gangs across the country.

In the meantime, Professor Duggan called for “purposeful activism” in the fight against crime and lawlessness which, he said, are “serious deterrents to economic development and national growth prospects” and could derail the national vision of developed country status by 2030.

“In the current global landscape where security challenges are proliferating across borders and have taken on multifaceted physiognomies, all hands on deck are vital,” he stressed.

“We need to …consolidate pockets of research excellence in this area …to provide the kinds of insight that will lead to more fruitful and productive collaborative engagements that are required to help us better understand the security challenges and threats from crime in order to better inform our national security architecture and direction,” he added.

Is “Minority Report” pure fiction?

Minority-Report-editPosted by Douglas Wood.

Journalist Raj Shekhar had an interesting article in the Times of India this week.

It’s like PreCrime, only four decades early. The “predictive policing” system seen in the Tom Cruise blockbuster Minority Report is now taking shape in Delhi. But instead of the three slime-immersed psychic “Precogs” that system relied on, Delhi Police’s crime prediction will be based on cold, hard data.

Once Enterprise Information Integration Solution or ‘EI2S’—a system that puts petabytes of information from more than a dozen crime databases at police staff’s fingertips—is ready, Delhi Police will be able to implement its ‘Crime Forecast’ plan to predict when and where criminals will strike.

The technology is not as fanciful as it seems at first and is already being tried out in many important cities, including New York, Los Angeles, London and Berlin. Officers associated with the plan say the software will analyze police data for patterns, compare it with other data from jails, courts and other crime-fighting agencies, and alert police to the likely threats. Data will be available not only on the suspects but also their likely victims.

A global tender has been floated for the project and Delhi Police is in talks with various firms for the technology.

According to the article, the system can help pre-empt many situations. For example, a violent clash between two gangs. It can identify individuals who are likely to join gangs or take to crime in an area based on the analyses of their behaviour and network. It can also curb domestic violence by identifying a pattern and predicting the next attack, the article said.

It all boils down to spotting patterns in mountains of data using tremendous computing power. A police document about the plan states that investigators should be able to perform crime series identification, crime trend identification, hot spot analysis and general analysis of criminal profiles. Link analysis will help spot common indicators of a crime by establishing associations and non obvious relationships between entities.

Using neighbourhood analysis, police will be able to understand crime events and the circumstances behind them in a small area as all the crime activity in a neighbourhood will be available for analysis. Criminal cases will be classified into multiple categories to understand what types of crime an area is prone to and the measures needed to curb them. Classification will be done through profiles of victims, suspects, localities and the modus operandi.

Another technique, called proximity analysis, will provide information about criminals, victims, witnesses and other people who are or were within a certain distance of the crime scene. By analyzing demographic and social trends, investigators will be able to understand the changes that have taken place in an area and their impact on criminality.

Network analysis will also be a part of this project to identify the important characteristics and functions of individuals within and outside a network, the network’s strengths and weaknesses and its financial and communication data.

While the system could help fight crime and rid Delhi of its ‘crime capital’ tag, it is bound to raise concerns over privacy and abuse as no predictive system can be foolproof.

Biometrics and Authentication – A new world of possibilities

This article was written 842938_huella_dactilar_y_lectorby Sacha Breite, head of future payments at SIX Payment Services. It originally appeared here on July 20, 2015.

The search for a common, international standard of payment authentication is in full flow.

Governments, retailers, banks and (not least) consumers are all eager to find a means of confirming someone’s identity beyond any doubt, secure from external hacking and technologically reliable.

The situation has become more urgent with the wildfire spread of mobile technology, opening up countless opportunities for remote transactions, but placing a growing burden on payment systems to prevent fraud and theft, both of assets and identities.

So, what are the best ways forward?

Here are some of the key technologies, with an analysis of their pros and cons:

Fingerprints and vein recognition 

Already in common use at border controls and in many smartphones, fingerprint identification has become widely accepted. But concerns over its reliability and security has dissuaded banks from adopting it for payment authentication.

Some consumers fear that their fingerprint hashdata could be copied and used fraudulently, so they have switched back to pin ID. Younger consumers are more relaxed with the technology and ApplePay can be activated using fingerprint ID.

As technology develops and sensors are more widespread, some are concerned that their fingerprint ID could be captured simply by touching something, without realizing. The technology is likely to remain popular, but probably in combination with other forms of ID.

Facial recognition 

Another border control technology which is likely to spread into the commercial world, this once again raises reliability concerns. What happens if one’s face alters its appearance? Can someone be impersonated by showing an image of their face?

A number of extra aspects can tighten security: infrared scanners can tell the difference between a live person and an image; a 3D scan of someone’s head provides further authentication; and iris recognition is becoming more sophisticated.

The new ‘Hello’ function on Windows 10 includes a means of unlocking one’s computer simply by looking at it. So the prospect of going to an ATM, looking at it and then getting cash out, may be possible in future (though some people will object to being filmed, on privacy grounds).

Customers taking ‘selfies’ and using these as authentication, either as a still image or a video, is another emerging form of authentication. Recently MasterCard announced plans to pilot this solution and replace passwords in 3-D Secure protected payments.

Heartbeats

Like our fingerprints and irises, everyone has a unique heartbeat. Using this for identification has the advantage that is it dynamic rather than static and therefore harder to replicate and proves that you are an actual human being.

The technology is part of many current and emerging devices, particularly for sports and fitness use, providing a ready means of integration with other systems, such as transactions or establishing ID.

Wearable technology, whether for health, fashion or communication, will give this type of authentication further impetus. So we can expect to see more of it in the years to come.

Beyond the technologies employed, there are further debates over whose responsibility it should be to develop any common standard. Governments are an obvious place to start, and indeed they have collaborated successfully to introduce border controls using biometric ID.

Yet transactions involving large amounts of money, especially ones using mobile devices, require greater security than this. People are physically present at border points and have to show their passports, so the biometrics are simply an additional security layer.

Most of the initiatives rolled out by governments using biometric ID authentication for health insurance (for example) have failed to work in the commercial sphere.

Card Schemes such as Visa and MasterCard would love to introduce such a system and have it commonly adopted internationally, since it would increase brand loyalty and probably win them new customers.

But so far, the lack of clarity over what kind of technology will be most widely accepted, by governments, consumers and by the legal world, has prevented any major financial service provider taking a leap of faith. Reliability, security and privacy issues remain unresolved.

In some ways, technology is leaping ahead of the best efforts of governments and banks, through applications like Google Street View and Google Image, where individuals can be identified through pictures taken of them without necessarily having their consent. And commercial services such as Amazon, PayPal and eBay have pioneered slimmed-down ID procedures, which may become more widely adopted.

An ever increasing amount of data is being stored on all of us, which will enable identification through many differing avenues. Irrespectively of the current position of biometrics and technology, it is vital for banking and payment infrastructure providers like SIX Payment Services, to provide high levels of security and reliability. In the near future we can expect further innovations to appear in this space, however it is still unclear which  will form the basis of a single global standard, until the dust has settled from the current burst of activity.