Thinking about the future… a demanding yet troublesome topic nowadays. While the world is constantly evolving, society and crime do too. Not only startups are using the newest technologies and processes on the market, so do ‘new crime’ movements. These challenging times call for everyone, including our Police, to think smarter. The Belgian Integrated Police is having their hands full during this current pandemic. That didn’t prevent them, however, to boost their innovation program with a short-term action plan. On December 9, 10 and 11, you’re invited to help build the future of the Belgian Police force. During an intense online event, called the Smart Policing Hackathon, entrepreneurial teams will ‘hack’ the Police’s 4 main challenges of today: Smart Operation, Smart Investigation, Smart Interaction and Smart Selection & Training.
Innovation @ the Police
A hackathon (marathon + hacking) is a creative 2-day event during which teams create digital and innovative solutions relevant for the Police. Dedicated experts and coaches assist the teams during the process. After the hacking, the winning teams present their suggestions to a jury. “We invite external experts to dive in to the Police’s challenges and come up with solutions with full openness and creativity”, says Arne Dormaels, Security and Prevention Director of VIAS. “We’ll have students, academics, startups, scale-ups, SMEs, corporates, young and established organizations from the private and public sector. It’s a huge opportunity for them to learn from each other and grow their network in this particular ecosystem”, Jan De Clippeleer, Executive Director at EY The Factory and Innovation Leader at EY wavespacetm, adds.
“In 2019, the Police set up an innovation program to establish a more innovative culture and a clear governance on innovation within our organization. The concrete realization of that program is planned for the coming years. In the meantime, we don’t intend to sit still. If we can already take concrete steps, we will”, Anke Stakenborg, Chief Commissioner at the Federal Police and policy advisor for the Commissioner General, explains. “We call on the professional expertise of EY and VIAS Institute to guide us in the organization of this hackathon. The event will be an important source of inspiration and breeding ground for the further rollout of our innovation program”.
The event will be an important source of inspiration and breeding ground for the further rollout of our innovation programAnke Stakenborg, Chief Commissioner at the Federal Police and policy advisor for the Commissioner General
Intense ‘Marathon hacking’ can only be done when there are well-defined, relevant challenges to ‘hack’. Anke Stakenborg introduces 4 domains in which the Police face challenges in its day-to-day execution of tasks:
- “First, we have our daily operations, in which the first offenders are involved, such as the intervention services. This is the aspect of police patrolling and gathering information in order to prevent crime.
- A second aspect is the so-called smart investigation. This is what is known as second-line care: a criminal offence has already occurred and now the necessary investigative acts must be carried out in order to find out who committed the offence and in what circumstances.
- The third challenge is: how can we put innovation at the service of policing for citizens? How can we bring citizens and the police closer together, especially during this corona-episode?
- Finally, we present some challenges in the field of selection and training; where our intention is to attract new recruits and to train them effectively once they are in our organization.”
Participants can count on the support of the Police’s expert coaches. “We strongly believe in the interaction of police officers on all levels”, Arne Dormaels explains.
Meet the 4 Head Coaches
You’ll never walk alone during the Smart Policing Hackathon. A dedicated team of coaches will assist the hackin’ teams from December 9 till 11. We talked with the 4 head coaches of the hackathon, who’ll lead a team of police coaches ready to answer all your questions during the hackin’ days.
A huge increasing amount of data is generated in society every day. All kinds of open data are collected from different places (city, street, houses…) by means of cameras, sensors, IoT,… besides the information available to the police. Maarten Torfs is Director ICT at the Local Police of Antwerp, and Head Coach of the Smart Operation domain. “We all know that it’s impossible for the human brain to make intelligence from all our data. For me innovation comes in when you gain intelligence from all our data coming from all different sources.
Innovation can give real insights to officers in the field. An example in the context of IOT is the Blue Street, as we call it. When we drive high-priority throughout the city, it’s often a dangerous situation for the police officers. Here, we could put the lights on green when we pass by difficult points. Another example is to automatically start body cams, or dash cams from our patrol cars when sensors detect a problematic situation. We could detect patterns on the routes of suspicious cars.
Also, analysis of criminal behavior, such as the clustering of police reports, and related data, could bring us new modus operandi. Or if we could anticipate in real time what’s happening in the camera streams of our CC TV network, we could make a gallery with suspicious behaviors or objects for further investigation. These are just some examples; I hope the hackathon can bring us more examples such as these.”
There are many opportunities in the field of technology that could provide better support for current investigation techniques. David Jaroszewski is Chief Superintendent at the Belgian Federal Police and Head Coach of the Smart Investigation challenge. “Criminals also make use of available technologies as part of an innovative approach to their techniques. Cyber-crime is nowadays a very strong threat.
The challenges we face are categorized in three clusters: the capture of information, its analysis and its exploitation. The mobility of our information is important but the dematerialization of our processes is the real challenge in order to be able to work in a much more inclusive and modular way. Covid-19 has confirmed that our strategy was indeed the right one: dematerialization of our business processes is the way to go. Decryption, the hybrid cloud approach, the analysis of structured and unstructured data, the use of analytical algorithms, creating a framework for IoT and the much easier 3D representation of the places we need to analyze… These aspects I would like to see innovated.
It’s important to always start from the business processes. Solutions are tools whose value is only real if they meet business expectations. This Hackathon is a real and beautiful opportunity to contribute together to a better safety and security of our society.”
The Police serve, as a part of society, the citizen. This challenge aims to bring Police closer to citizens and improve the match between citizens’ needs and the services provided by the police. For example, during the Covid-19 pandemic it became more difficult for the police to have physical contact with citizens. So, what are digital possibilities to interact with citizens? Together with Pascal Roman of the Federal Police, Olivier Slosse, advisor to the Chief of Police at the Local Police Brussels Capital Ixelles, is Head Coach of this challenge. “I believe trust is the new currency. In order to gain trust, we must listen and be able to engage in permanent and rapid communication with the public. The measures taken to combat corona have created additional barriers that citizens must overcome in order to be able to report to the police.
Additionally, communication changed even before the corona crisis. People want faster answers. I think non-human interaction (such as a chatbot) can help ensure that a basic offer is always available, regardless of workload. Technological solutions can also ensure that physical distances are bridged, and the Police can be nearby to listen, for example for people with reduced mobility. Furthermore, technology can break down language barriers and enable rapid communication. So, for some sensitive issues, this can reduce the risk of nonintentional secondary victimization, because a chatbot always listens neutrally and non-judgmentally. A chatbot could also provide an initial low-threshold triage so that citizens can get to the right services more quickly.”
Smart Selection & Training
Smart Policing demands smart cops by smartly recruiting and training them. Fanny Pauwels is Policy advisor at the Belgian Federal Police and Head Coach of Smart Selection & Training. “Together with my team of experts, I can give participants an insight in the Police as an employer. Our organization wants to reach (young) talent in a proactive, interactive, and attractive way. Not only boys and girls who have dreamed of a job in the police force from an early age on, but also people who do not immediately think of us as potential employer.
Next, we would like to explore ways to challenge and help interested candidates to train their physical fitness, language skills, problem-solving skills… In stressful situations, policemen often need to make difficult decisions in a split second. For example, how will you react to a person who claims to have Covid and who spits in your face? Or how will you try to calm a person who’s going into a psychotic episode? Our biggest challenge lies in simulating real life situations and stressful events to create a natural, spontaneous reaction”.
Due to social distancing measures, the Smart Policing Hackathon will happen in a fully virtual environment. Over the past months, EY has successfully orchestrated 4 online, international hackathons and learned the many advantages of a virtual hackathon.
Jan De Clippeleer expects amazing outcomes. “At the end we expect participants to present very tangible solutions (be it new technologies, new services, new tools, new processes…). Solutions are rated on different scales:
- We expect innovative solutions with a clear knowledge leap compared to the current state of the art.
- We expect valuable solutions which can be valorized in the police organization and in society
- And – within the boundaries of a 2-day hackathon – we hope the solutions are as feasible and as mature as possible.
De Clippeleer is very enthusiastic about the “golden opportunity” of this hackathon, he exclaims. “For participants, the Smart Policing Hackathon is a huge (and fun!) opportunity to work together in an inspiring, open innovation context where 1+1=3.”. “With the organization of this hackathon, the Belgian Police will build bridges between companies, knowledge institutions, authorities and the citizen as a catalyst for a so-called quadruple helix for security”, Arne Dormaels adds.
Anke Stakenborg is convinced this is a win-win situation for all: “We are curious to get to know the participants and to see what possibilities they can offer. On the other hand, we think that this event gives the participants a unique insight into the police organization.”
Registrations for the Smart Policing Hackathon are still ongoing. Don’t miss out on this opportunity!
See you on Dec 9, 10 & 11? Register below!
Last year, EY and VIAS organized the Firestarter Hackathon, which resulted in high-quality tangible projects for the Belgian Firestarter Department. The Smart Policing Hackathon, is, again, a collaboration between VIAS Institute and EY, and will serve as a launchpad to boost smart innovation in the Police. “A unique collaboration of two purpose driven organizations”, Arne Dormaels states.