Presented By O'Reilly and Cloudera
Make Data Work
December 1–3, 2015 • Singapore

Social-Enabled Policing and Big Data

Modern policing traces its lineage to the early nineteenth century and the concepts espoused by Sir Robert Peel, the United Kingdom’s Home Secretary. Attempts in founding the London Metropolitan Police were met with opposition and distrust of an armed force to maintain order as an extension of the government. Peel’s guiding principle was that rather than an extension of the Government, “the Police are the Public and the Public are the Police.” It was about a good relationship and trust between the public and the police, working together to prevent crime and disorder. And, the test of police efficiency should be the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it. That was the beginning of community policing.

While there are many fine examples of community policing and crime prevention adoption, such as Japan’s Koban system and the Singapore Police Force, it has been more an exception than norm. In the 20th century, community policing seemed to give way to problem-oriented policing, with a focus on rigorous and effective methods to solve problems in crime and disorder, including methodology, tools and data; but not on community relationship let alone on prevention. In the early 21st century, problem- oriented policing evolved into intelligence-led policing. The focus was on integrated crime and criminal analysis, profiling of serious offenders, supported by an informed police command structure. While prevention was an objective, such actionable intelligence was mainly targeting at problems solving, with little focus on the community. That is now changing; we are seeing more and more police forces turning to social media as a way to engage with the community.

With advancements in analytical tools, intelligence-led policing soon led to today’s predictive policing (PredPol). This is about predicting crime and disorder before they happen, or when they are about to be committed. This allows police to mobilize and deploy the necessary resources to mitigate the threats. While PredPol does support prevention, its main value is in early detection. PredPol relies on past crime and criminal data, and thus assumes that the cause/reason of crime/disorder does not change.

Movie such as Minority Report and the sight of neighborhood police officers in military-grade weapons worsen the situation, leading to mistrust between the community and the police. Did we really prevent a crime/disorder or merely suppress its symptom?

Social-Enabled Policing supports the prevention, detection and solving of crime and disorder. It’s about community policing, intelligence-led policing and predictive policing. It’s made possible through social networking and crowd-sourcing, and the effects brought about by them, complementing traditional policing. Mere engagement of the community through physical police presence is insufficient, we need a holistic social strategy and social presence to listen, analyze, understand, engage and communicate with the community.

To realize Social-Enabled Policing, one needs to consider:
1. Which Social Networks and How?
2. Am I Big Data Ready?
3. How Can I Meet the People’s Demands?