Innovation is collaboration.
If there’s one sentence that sums up the first Smart Policing Hackathon, it’s this one. The online hackathon connected over 200 people, ranging from developers, creatives, students, and academics, to a dream team of about 50 police coaches. Over a span of an intense 2 days, from December 9 till 10, 43 (!) teams ‘hacked’ against the clock to ‘crack the code’ of 4 Smart challenges the Belgian Police face today.
The 43 innovative projects, which included amazing demos and pitches, were thoroughly examined by a jury of experts. As a hackathon is competition based, 4 of them took home the Smart Policing Hackathon Award. Let’s dive into the details and get to know the winners “BlueTraffic”, “Tafuta”, “Okay” and “FCCU CTF”.
Smart Policing calls for Smart Hacking
The Smart Policing Hackathon, organized by EY The Factory and VIAS Institute, divided the hacking teams into 4 main categories, aka ‘challenges’ they could find a solution for: Smart Operation, Smart Interaction, Smart Investigation and Smart Selection & Training. Teams signed up for a challenge and got help from the dedicated police coaches, available to answer questions and give advice.
The fact of being a fully virtual hackathon didn’t influence the hackers’ enthusiasm at all. The MS Teams environment definitely proved its worth in connecting the hackers. First, everyone got connected via the plenary conference sessions, for a morning and evening touchpoint. Next to that, participants could gather in the ‘Fun Channel’, in which they massively shared selfies, hacking offices, Christmas trees, favorite hacking-memes, food orders, fluffy pets, and so on. In between, the coaches intensively hopped around between the virtual meetings of participants in order to share knowledge and help each other out.
Never change a winning team!
Also for this hackathon, EY The Factory offered virtual workshops on Business Model Canvas and pitching in order to prepare the teams for their pitch, to be delivered on Day 2.
At EY The Factory, we know for a fact that a good pitch strategy is often half the work to convince the jury!
And the Awards go to…
Out of the 43 teams, 12 finalists were selected. Their pitches were shown at the Award Ceremony on Friday, December 13th. The ceremony was held in a hybrid format at the Police headquarters in Brussels. Although the judges and police members had no live audience, they could welcome a full house of online watchers via a livestream through MS Teams. Minister of Internal Affairs Annelies Verlinden passed by to witness the teams’ magnificent solutions:
“Society and crime are constantly evolving. The police faces major challenges in this digital age. The participants in this hackathon proposed creative ideas that can improve our police services. I would like to thank the participants. I will analyze their proposals with a great deal of attention and take them into action. After all, only by focusing on a smart and thoughtful use of new technologies and innovative processes will we be able to meet the challenges of the future. Participation and co-creation are no longer vague concepts if they are translated into action.”
In the Challenge Smart Operation:
How can new technologies better support the daily operations of police?
Which problem are they solving?
“Support in knowledge and more efficient flow in traffic enforcement.”
The solution of BlueTraffic:
“We created an app that allows policemen on the street to quickly look up the right forms, legislation and procedures. The app could, for example, be perfectly integrated into Focus.”
In the Challenge Smart Investigation:
How can innovative investigation techniques improve the fight against serious and organized crime?
Which problem are you solving?
“We have learned that the huge amount of information that is being created every day is hardly being used effectively at FedPol. Data is siloed and the potential of the data you are sitting on has hardly been explored.”
The solution of Arinti:
“Tafuta is a Cognitive Search Engine and Graph Analytics tool. This means that agents and investigators will be able to exploit the full potential of your data, with a google-like knowledge retrieval experience. The tool understands documents, it interprets text and turns raw information into searchable content.”
In the Challenge Smart Interaction:
How can we bring police closer to citizens in a digital era?
Which problem are you solving?
The existing distance between the police and citizens.
The solution of Okay:
“Our idea is an app-based concept where youth can report any problem. After reporting, the person will be redirected to the right organization, lowering the barrier for reporting problems. A police officer with the right know-how will reply. This conversation gives people the courage to further contact the police.”
In the Challenge Smart Selection & Training
How can police recruit and select the right candidates and train them lifelong to answer the evolving needs of the society?
Which problem are you solving?
“We’re addressing the popularity of the FCCU and their recruitment.”
The solution of FCCU CTF:
“We are deploying a public faced CTF platform that will serve as branding for the FCCU. Besides gaining popularity among the right people. Individuals with the perfect profile will have an easier way to get in touch with the FCCU. We can put forensics and steganography challenges on the platform which are exactly what the FCCU does. Besides serving these individuals that are skilled in cyber security on a silver platter. The FCCU could also use this as a part of their recruitment process. Now there’s only a written, theoretical exam. Our platform would give them the chance to also test the practical skills of their solicitants. This could also be deployed for Regional CCU’s.”
First Online Hackathon for the Police
One of the driving forces behind this initiative, Chief Commissioner Anke Stakenborg, looks back on this first hackathon for the Belgian police: “The past few days have been really intense. Not only the hacking was a real rollercoaster for the teams and coaches, the organization of this hackathon also showed itself as a new adventure full of challenges that needed creative solutions. And they were always found, thanks to a passionate team of colleagues, and our partners EY and VIAS”.
The Commissioner-General of the Federal Police, Marc De Mesmaeker, also confirms that this hackathon is not a one-shot: ‘We are now going to further analyses the added value and it is my ambition to actually implement some of the proposed solutions’. He announced that an innovation cell will be set up to support and facilitate the further roll-out of innovation within the Integrated Police.
EY The Factory was in charge of the practical organization, being the experts in organizing open innovation events, both physical and virtual. We couldn’t be more pleased with the successful outcome of this great event!
More info on this hackathon on https://police-hackathon.be, and on social media (with hashtag #SmartPolicingHackathon).