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Social-enabled policing is the 'next wave'

Sathya Mithra Ashok | Jan. 24, 2014
Digging into his experience with police work and understanding of trends on a global scale, Hong-Eng Koh, senior director and global lead of justice and public safety within Oracle's division focusing on the public sector, makes the case for social-enabled policing (SEP).

It is kind of scary and interesting at the same time. And also because of technology we are seeing organisations, whether it is Bikeys in Australia or Yakusa in Japan or the Triads in Chaina, tend to collaborate. In the old days, they usually didn't trust each other.

The other thing that we have noticed is gamification. In the private world it is good to have gamification. But we are seeing the same thing in the criminal world as well. People treat it as a game, and show off that I am doing this or that better.

New Zealand Roast Busters to me is a form of gamification. The youngsters who were going around having sex with under age women and then shaming them on Facebook and Twitter. Why were they doing that? What is the psychological thinking behind it? It is gamification.

There is also the element of social engineering and this is a big concern from the cyber perspective.

All of the above are threats to public safety, and to some extent public security. But they are also good things.

For one, the ability of people to use social media can be used in rescue measures. Take the Chinese Sichuan earthquake last year. A lot of infrastructure was destroyed during the earthquake. Many people were totally out of contact. But the good thing was that cell phones were working. And they were using a microblogs (in China Facebook and Twitter are not used) to do something like real-time tweeting to let people know where they were and how they were. And because of that rescuers were able to reach out to them.

The second good thing is social-enabled policing (SEP). This is a new term.

If you look at community policing it started in the 18th century. Sir Robert Peel set up the London Metropolitan Police. He is the forefather of modern policing. He focused a lot on community policing. The whole idea is that the police are part of the community. That was how it started.

But somewhere along the line things changed, and people started not trusting the police and there came along many negative connotations. One reason for is because policing is very reactive.

Who can be a willing customer of the police? Nobody is. Something bad has already happened, you might be a victim. So there is a bad connotation.

It didn't help when in the '70s people started talking about problem-oriented policing. The idea turns to focus on the problem, to focus on the crime and how to solve it.

In the '90s, people started talking about intelligence-led policing. That is about using information and analytics. But intelligence-led policing also resulted in fears of a big brother.


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