Interview: Social-enabled policing is the 'next wave'

From the Boston marathon bombing to the England riots, Oracle's Hong-Eng Koh explains how community policing can work in the age of social media

Q: How does the single platform tie into social media, and the move from being reactive to being proactive?

HEK: The intelligence hub allows us to tap into all data sources. That is the one that will tell you something may be happening. From the police point of view, my response would be to quickly despatch officers, to see whether I can mitigate it before it becomes a major incident.

Unfortunately, if something did happen or crime did occur then data from there would move onto the policing platform for it to initiate the investigation process.

Financial transactions, past criminal record, travel records – all of this are very reliable data. But the moment you look at social media, you have rumours and sarcasm. If you monitor that you are going to get a lot of false positives. And your operational users are not going to like that.

So our intelligence hub actually has four layers of filtering. We use different technologies. We use events recognition, we use ontology based semantic analysis, and master data management. Those layers help us zoom in on the signal within all that noise. We are even able to cut through re-tweeting and re-blogging.

For example, we were able to zoom into a particular tweet where someone put up a photo of a child being abused sexually. We were able to zoom into people with positive emotions after a particular school shooting in the US.

With this solution we are able to zoom in quickly on the date, time and location of the incident, because of the filtering. We are also able to do sentiment analysis, which is important for SEP, and understand whether your community is happy or not happy.

NZ police is the first police force to issue iPhones to every police officer, and that’s important. SEP means that you are always in touch. You need to be always connected, so mobile policing is important to support that.

Q: From your perspective, how does the NZ Police fare in their SEP practices and solutions?

HEK: I am pretty impressed by them. I met them a couple of times. People focus is very important with the NZ police. It is good that they are looking at different angles, including a common platform for all these things. It might take some time but they already have determination. That’s important.

NZ police is the first police force to issue iPhones to every police officer, and that’s important. SEP means that you are always in touch. You need to be always connected, so mobile policing is important to support that. They might not coin it under the term of SEP but the fact is that they want to have a people focus.

Based on the manifesto that I have read, they don’t focus much on the social media aspect, which I think is important to them. They might be doing a bit of Twitter, but you can have a more structured program to do SEP. In a structured program, you would [look at] elements of how you engage, how you listen, how you react, how you collaborate. That is important and mobility is a major tool for that. So they have done a great job by giving those iPhones.

I think they have made a great decision by having a commercially available device. From my experience, specialised mobile terminals can became very costly to maintain, and the technology cannot be sustained. The iPhone is widely available. There are many apps for it, and there will be more. So it is good that they decided on a commercially available device.

Some police departments might be concerned about the security of the device. As part of our solution, we emphasise a lot on security because the data and contents that we deal with are very sensitive. With our solution, you can learn the typical behaviour of an officer. We will learn that when you wake up you reach for your phone, you check messages, email and then go to office and use laptop to work in office.

For example, at 4pm you go to Starbucks and you use the iPad there. We will learn your behaviour, the device, the time and the location. If one day you don’t follow the pattern, the AI-based identity management solution can block you. This is a great asset, especially in cases where the device gets stolen.

Our intelligence hub is also being used by some agencies to monitor the behaviour of the officers within the organisation. It looks for anomalies and patterns.

This is all meta-data. It is not the actual content itself.

The NZ police’s HR system is Oralce, but not the rest. We are in conversations with them regarding other prospects, but we really like the way they look at policing.

In Australiawe work with the AFP, the state police, and Victoria state’s emergency management. Our intelligence hub is being used to discover causes of fires, the hot spots and then analyse them. So its uses go beyond just criminals and terrorists.

Q: What is the market for these solutions in emerging countries?

HEK: In emerging markets they don’t have legacy systems. It is much easier for them to adopt. There is no luggage to hold them back. At the same time, budget is a major concern. Some of them can’t even afford enough police officers, let alone technology. This is why we are working closely with some international organisations. I cannot name them. We are trying to work out with them how we can offer these solutions as a cloud service with these organisations.

Oracle would be happy to do that. But because we are a commercial entity some of these organisations might not be keen on using our cloud service. This is why we are approaching these international organisations, for them to become the trusted provider. They will use our technologies and the same solution sets that we design, and offer it as a service to some of these developing countries and law enforcement agencies. That is looking promising.

A few Latin American countries have funding from the US government so they invest in a lot of technology. Both Mexico and Columbia are huge Oracle customers. They have impressed me in terms of using technology to prevent and detect major incidents, related to crime, drugs or terrorism.

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