With the ever increasing need to constantly engage with citizens law enforcement agencies and their partners have tried to adapt to the use of new technologies. MEDI@4SEC has already illustrated the growing challenges that social media has brought for LEAs in delivering everyday security. It has also highlighted the benefits that DIY policingcan bring and the emerging technologieswhich are enabling its effective use. The TRILLION (Trusted Citizen-LEA Collaboration Over Social Networks) project, of which XLAB are also a partner, has the aim of developing technologies to further enhance the co-operation and collaboration of citizens and LEAs.
As part of its work, TRILLION is developing a platform to enable citizens to actively participate in urban security management, identify hazards, and assist law enforcement officers. Through it, citizens will be able to report suspicious events or criminal incidents complete with geolocation and other contextual information. The platform helps LEAs to more efficiently detect incidents, locate on-site citizens and other LEA representatives, as well as communicate with them and request more details or assign specific actions to address on-going incidents.
TRILLION features a mobile application which can be used by citizens to report incidents, a backend data delivery system, which automatically classifies and directs events to the appropriate actors, and control room dashboard software used by LEAs that analyse the information and distribute tasks between field patrols and other units. The citizen reporting the incident can choose to remain anonymous or not. If needed, LEAs can also request additional information from the user that had reported the incident.
The TRILLION platform supports several different communication flows covering incident discovery, prediction and reporting. Citizens can collaborate with other citizens, e.g. to warn others in case of noticing an incident or suspicious activity or to help avoid the escalation of public misbehaviour. Citizens can communicate to LEAs, reporting unusual or dangerous occurrences. LEAs can also contact citizens after receiving a report to request further assistance, or broadcast messages to groups of citizens to alert them about imminent risk, manage pathways or escape routes, or find witnesses. To improve management of security cases, TRILLION also supports collaboration between different LEAs and their public security partners such as local authorities, health providers and blue light services.
TRILLION addresses four high-level user scenario domains: crime and justice (reports of crime or suspicious activity), event and crowd management (crime and antisocial behaviour affecting communities or groups of people on events), public protection and disaster relief (e.g. natural disasters), and emergency and public safety (e.g. fires).
One of the scenarios that TRILLION describesillustrates a situation where a bar manager suspects that drug dealing is taking place in his bar regularly by an unknown group of people. The drug dealing is affecting his business and he wants it to stop. But, being fearful of the drug dealers, he does not want to be identified as the information source. In the process of his registration and reporting using TRILLION, the LEA might require the bar manager to reveal some personal information about himself so they can confirm the credibility of information more easily. TRILLION supports several levels of anonymity, which enables the bar owner to keep a reasonable level of anonymity and only be identified to the LEA. The bar manager can upload CCTV images to TRILLION and inform the LEA about the usual times of suspicious activity in his premises. To help identify the suspects, the local LEA shares the CCTV images with other LEAs. With joint effort, they identify the suspects as known drug dealers from another town. The LEA organize an operation to arrest the drug dealers at the bar and arrange with the manager to send an alert via TRILLION when the suspects are present. At an appropriate time after the operation, the LEA can inform the bar manager about the outcome of their intervention, as well as contact other bars in the area to encourage them to report similar suspicious activity in their premises.
While developing a technical solution, TRILLION also deals with social and organizational aspects of community policing. The goal of community policing – in contrast to traditional policing approaches – is proactive, placing greater emphasis on the prevention of criminal acts rather than responding to them. This approach brings challenges for organisations to change their approaches, not least a need to adapt to bottom up, citizen driven management rather than top-down direction. And it also brings challenges citizens to adapt to a changing way in which to communicate with LEAs. For those with poor access to technology or the knowledge to use it (e.g. elderly population), participating in this new style can be difficult and an inability to adapt might further undermine their confidence in public security.
MEDI@4SEC has shown that social media and related technologies are already in use by citizens and LEAs around the world. Its uses are diverse from citizens reporting concerns and crimes to DIY policing on multiple levels, from information providing and community engagement to criminal investigationsthrough crowdsourcing evidenceand analysing social media. By paying close attention to the opportunities and challenges already highlighted by MEDIA4SEC, TRILLION aims to develop a common platform and set of tools which enable both citizens and LEAs to work collaboratively in enhancing public security with greater confidence.