National strategy crucial for police forces to use big data to fight crime

National strategy crucial for police forces to use big data to fight crime

National police forces are struggling to make use of big data analytics to improve policing due to lack of national strategy, an independent report, produced by the Royal United Services Institute and commissioned by Unisys, has revealed.

The report, Big Data and Policing, assesses the state of current national and local policing and what opportunities are available to reduce crime using Big Data and analytics technology.

The report found across 43 forces in England and Wales, individual forces have had successful results from piloting big data technology including Derbyshire and the Met Police.

An example includes the use of predictive hotspot mapping that allows police forces to predict the location that future crimes could be carried out in.

However, local forces are all using different technologies and strategies to assess their data. This means that fighting crime effectively through the use of data is being hindered by a lack of a unified  data infrastructure or national strategy for policing technology, meaning that successful data technology strategies are restricted and cannot be rolled out nationwide.

Furthermore, these issues leave forces with no access to advanced analytical tools to analyse certain types of data such as images or videos and without access they are limited to a small number of surveillance capabilities.

Santosh Raju, Practice Lead for Advanced Data Analytics, Unisys EMEA, said: “Police forces are facing a range of challenges today and are making the best of the current situation.

“Unisys has a wealth of industry expertise and a deep understanding of analytics, and we believe our experience can address some of these challenges. It’s about identifying the unknown, unknowns. Only then can the skills and experience of policing be used efficiently to crack down on pervasive issues, such as human trafficking and cross border criminality.”

Big data technology has been used across many public sectors to revolutionise their domains including retail, healthcare and transportation. In comparison, policing in the UK has been limited and there has been a lack of data looking into how policing can utilise big data analytics.

Using advanced analytics is crucial to UK policing because it could identify what locations are most likely to be hit with crime, through crime mapping, to effectively distribute resources or increase the ability to collect data through images from CCTV to identify criminals.

However, police forces lack of co-ordination of technology across the UK brings problems to the force with ineffective data sharing and must use the same strategy across the board to effectively benefit from digital analytics across the country.

Read More: Durham Police to use Artificial Intelligence to fight crime

John Wright, Head of Strategic Initiatives for Global Public Sector at Unisys said: “Advanced analytics provides a practical route to assist police forces in using the data they hold to meet their challenges in law enforcement. This process is often perceived in policing as a very complex area, and so this research aims to demystify big data in law enforcement, showing how it can aid the police in their day-to-day crime fighting efforts.

“In the coming years, we expect that the advances in the police’s use of technology will enable these capabilities, and we’ll start to see national strategies roll-out, creating a collaborative effort across all of England and Wales.”