While organised crime and terrorist groups are often at the forefront of technological innovation for planning, executing and concealing their criminal activities, law enforcement agencies (LEAs) often lag behind. LEAs are therefore in need of new policing technologies to identify, understand and counteract new threats and trends in crime.
In most cases, technology prevents LEAs from efficiently unlocking the correct information required for an investigation – often the gathering or processing of information is mostly carried out manually. The reasons can be manifold:
- a vast range of investigation tools are used and each of them serves its own purpose, with no integration of results
- too many queries are required to extract the right information, making the task too complex and with many, tedious steps
- sharing information among LEAs is not always possible due to cultural and organisational issues
- reluctance to share information with other LEAs
To meet LEA needs, COPKIT is introducing an Early Warning (EW)/Early Action (EA) mechanism.
The Early Warning system will allow to gather crime-intelligence more uniformly and to aggregate results and share the analyses across policing agencies in different countries, for improved and more collaborative criminal investigations and a higher rate of solved crimes.
Trilateral Research is leading the integrated data protection and ethical impact assessment of the COPKIT technologies, so as to foresee and resolve in advance any privacy and ethical issues that may arise.
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Understanding use cases and Law Enforcement Agencies’ needs
The first step towards reaching this goal is defining the requirements of the EA/EW system that the project aims to develop, through a number of end-user workshops in which LEAs describe policing use cases and their needs for carrying out their investigations more efficiently.
For this purpose, COPKIT consortium has organised the first workshop at the General Directorate Combating Organized Crime – Ministry of Interior of Bulgaria’s (GDCOC) in Sofia, Bulgaria, on 18-19 September 2018.
The event focused on analysing the different use cases brought forward by the LEAs, analysing the technology factor in the present and future of organised crime, and identifying the technical requirements based on the current technology gaps and LEA needs.
The second part of the workshop involved the analysis of the functional requirements needed to co-develop the COPKIT prototype.
The three-day event brought together researchers from 16 different organisations (from law enforcement, academia, industry, legal, ethics and privacy committees) as well as representatives from EUROPOL and UNICRI, as members of the COPKIT Advisory Board.
The conversation started analysing the results of the “Questionnaire for Current Work Practices”- a questionnaire completed by the LEAs before the workshop portraying the different use cases. This initial assessment allowed to develop the needs/gaps analysis that took place during the second day of the workshop and to determine the type of intervention needed to move from “where we are” (the present state) and “where we want to be” (the target state) regarding technology for law enforcement.
Based on the gathered information on everyday workflows, the technical partners presented an initial human-machine interface (HMI) concept and worked with the LEAs to produce a more detailed sketch which will ultimately lead to a working prototype for the envisioned EW/EA system.
Collaboration increases the chances of success
On the third day of the event in Sofia, the COPKIT consortium was joined by six H2020 Security developing research in similar fields. Once the different projects (ANITA, MAGNETO, TENSOR, TITANIUM, ASGARD and I-LEAD) had been presented, a collective brainstorming and discussion session took place to identify topics and possible forms of collaboration.
The complexity of the challenges that LEAs are facing in their fight against organized crime, together with the variety of data and information needed to carry out their investigations are such that a single project is unlikely to be able to tackle them all. Therefore, complementary approaches and technologies are necessary to face these challenges. Moreover, exploring synergies with other H2020 Security projects, as well as combining and exploiting each other’s results can deliver greater added value.
Plans for future developments
Six other meetings with end users (LEAs) are planned throughout the project, in order to:
- review LEA requirements and evaluate the developed prototypes
- test and improve them in order to achieve a working demo by the end of the project
- to ensure COPKIT’s technologies and applications comply with the legal and regulatory environment and data protection and ethical norms
Visit the COPKIT webpage for more information or feel free to contact our team.