New capabilities can make crimefighters ten times more powerful. But will they embrace them to stop more crime?
Crime remains the most profitable business on the planet. According to the United Nations, the proceeds of crime equate to nearly four percent of global GDP. That math puts criminal gains worldwide at nearly $5 trillion dollars this year.
There are many contributing factors to crime, but even simple things like outdated processes, systems and paperwork are holding back the crimefighters that could help stem the tide of criminal enterprise. The fact is, it’s too easy at the moment to get away with crime.
I witnessed this first-hand on a ride-along with the Police in Auckland. The paperwork associated with an arrest for a relatively minor offence took close to an hour for each officer involved. When I speak to security guards, it usually takes more than two hours just to report a crime and prepare all the required evidence.
Compiling an evidentially sufficient crime report to proceed through to the prosecution is a painfully slow process, even for straightforward cases with clear evidence. Criminals know this and use it to their advantage, counting on apathy and an unwillingness to go through the hassles of reporting crime in order to get away with their offences.
One study in the US found that shoplifters are only prosecuted once for every 49 times they steal. The rewards for stealing far outweigh the risk of getting caught and being punished. Consequently, organised gangs are allowed to flourish by focusing on very low-risk, low-reward crime, but carrying it out in high volumes for a big financial gain. Contrary to what you see in the movies, gangs don’t like to target bank robberies or other high-risk, high-reward heists where the risks of getting caught and prosecuted are far higher.
Considering that only 0.2% of criminal proceeds are ever intercepted by law enforcement, physical volume crimes like shoplifting, vehicle theft, burglary, or digital crimes like online fraud, are increasingly attractive for today’s criminals.
But at Auror, we believe everyone can play a role in reducing crime and keeping communities safe. Crimefighters like police, corporate investigators and security personnel can make a big difference if we give them the right tools for the job. These crimefighters need their superpowers.
Technology is allowing us to achieve extraordinary things in society, yet we haven’t managed to harness its true potential to prevent and solve crimes in our communities. We at Auror believe the main reason is inefficient access to relevant, timely intelligence.
We’re now in the intelligence era of computation of vast amounts of data and development of software that can learn from this data. We believe arming crimefighters with this real-time intelligence, is the superpower needed to significantly reduce crime in our communities.
So how do we make this happen?
The technical capabilities already exist to make crimefighters ten times more effective than they are today. But there are many technical elements that need to work together for this to happen.
Bringing these technologies together will empower crimefighters (rather than replace them) by providing more actionable intelligence in real-time to help them make decisions that prevent crime.
What are the technologies that hold all the power?
- Smarter cameras, more data.
Each year 1.5 million surveillance cameras are installed around the world. When we greatly increase the amount of video we’re collecting, this presents logistical challenges. There simply aren’t enough people to monitor it all. Video is a form of unstructured data: in its original state it isn’t organised in a way that is easy to interrogate to find footage of interest, other than by playing it back. But now we can train computers to efficiently analyse video for us.
For example, if police are looking for a red sedan in a city area but don’t know the vehicle registration, computers can be trained to alert police in real-time if any red sedan is captured on video in a defined area. This is a lot more effective and reliable than using people to look out for the vehicle over hundreds of hours of video.
- Cloud computing allows us to handle these large amounts of data and share it seamlessly.
Cloud computing is far more than just a buzzword or a storage solution. Using the cloud to process data is like turning hundreds of computers loose to work on a single problem all at the same time, without having them in a single location. It can:
- Provide scalable infrastructure to have the processing power to handle the vast amounts of data.
- Solve data management challenges and dramatically improve the way crimefighters share and analyse data (including sharing video data).
- Enable crimefighters to better coordinate workflow across organisations (e.g. getting video stream from one organisation to another when it is needed).
- Machine learning allows us to create meaning from the vast amounts of data faster and in ways humans never could.
Advances in computing power mean that we’re now able to process immense quantities of data and unlock the insights it provides.
As introduced above, this is particularly powerful when it comes to making sense of unstructured data, like video footage. Recent advances in deep learning have enabled computers to recognise people, behaviours, and vehicles in images and video. This processing can happen across thousands, even millions of images a second.
It’s about using computing power to do the grunt work to give crimefighters the actionable intel they need to be effective. This kind of information is pivotal in allowing crimefighters to make the best decisions to solve crimes faster and keep people safe.
- Mobile technology gets intel to the right people at the right time.
Mobile phones allow crimefighters to have access to intelligence in their hand on the go, and more crimefighters are now being armed with smartphones. But are they being armed with the right applications and intel to be ten times more effective?
Crimefighters need intelligent software, processing vast amounts of data to make them more effective.
We firmly believe that when crimefighters are empowered with real-time intelligence powered by good quality data, analysed by emerging software and less constrained by their current systems and processes, it will make it much harder for criminals to succeed. If this were to happen, we would expect to see a significant and sustained reduction in crime rates, reducing the huge cost of crime to society and helping make our communities safer.
We already have great crimefighters wanting to keep our communities safe. To be effective in crime reduction, old processes and systems need to make way for the new age of crimefighting: an age that harnesses intelligent data and delivers it in real-time.
The opportunity for crimefighters who can effectively leverage this intelligent software is unprecedented. Will they embrace it and power up?