Digital Defence

Digital Policing

Interview with Kai Hartmann

Kai Hartmann
Expert in Digital Policing
Former Police Officer

Hello, please tell me something about you and your work.

Hello, my name is Kai Hartmann and I am working as Teamlead and expert for digital policing at a worldwide leading company for consulting, digital transformation and technology services. I am actively taking part in the digitization process of authorities and actors of the public security. My goal is to enhance and improve the way my clients are working by offering comprehensive, specially designed digital solutions – supporting them on the way of adapting to the ongoing technological progress. As a former police officer, I am highly interested in ensuring the safety of our society by using and implementing the various opportunities that come along with digitization. Therefore, I am constantly keeping an eye out on the latest global digital trends. I am mainly involved in projects that include the modernization of German polices: my job is to analyze and identify difficulties in policing processes. With my expertise, I am showing my clients where to take maximum advantage of innovative technology in order to successfully boost up their IT and policing tools – leading them to better, more efficient ways of solving todays and tomorrows severe challenges.

What do you think are important factors in making an organization able to absorb innovation?

First of all, there has to be acceptance that an organization can only function in a modern environment – our digitally networked society requires that. There has to be the willingness to development – digital functioning should be a key aim of the organization. Innovations are accompanied by skepticism because they always include a potential for risks. These risks have to be taken in order to accomplish long-term success – it has its price. The fear of changes inhabits the spirit for innovativeness, it represents a barrier. The corporate culture has to be a driver of innovation. Accordingly, it has to be changed in that regard. The managerial level has to convey a feeling of trust, so there can be an open communication about new ideas – without any doubts. Also, an innovation strategy is an essential prerequisite: one of the main reasons why ideas are not continued is because there is no strategic orientation, such as a change management. Without a planned process of development, it is highly likely that a project will fail. At this point, an innovation center could be considered where future-orientated concepts and trends are promoted.

Will the internet, social media, and mobile phones enhance police accountability and police-citizen relations?

Of course, digitization enables a closer connection between police officers and citizens: the internet allows organizations to spread their message to a large community. Social media is one of the most important modern communication methods. It is already used strategically by many polices for public relation work. With humorous posts trough Twitter and Facebook, citizens can easily be warned and informed – thanks to smart phones – in any situation and in real time. Also, this kind of media can be used to raise awareness for specific topics, such as fake news, that have been increasingly in circulation since the Corona Virus. Especially in this crisis, polices can quickly react and respond to the needs of the society through the internet. Social media platforms allow active communication and exchange between citizens and police officers. This has a lot of benefits for policing: on the one hand, the opinion of the general public can be analyzed, on the other hand, polices can refer to information received from citizens for effective investigate proceedings. The inclusion of citizens in investigations strengthens the relationship because they are actively participating in the investigation process. Some German polices have created apps for citizens where users can get local information and warnings. At the same time, the application includes safety features -such as a “safety button” – where by tapping an emergency call is automatically made. The world wide web created contact opportunities and possibilities. Nevertheless, it can be used in a negative manner, for example in the context of of hate speech in the “comment“-section. Yet, the list of positive characteristics predominates.
Finally, there is a strong need for more participation and integration of the citizens in the public safety work. Using a smartphone and its sensor and IoT capabilities we are now able to solve several issues and provide modern public safety services; e.g. why should we just call 110 or 911 while we could allow the police to watch and listen through the camera and the microphone of the person with an issue?

How is digital technology impacting modern day policing?

Policing is becoming mobile. Officers equipped with tablets and smartphones do not need desktop access anymore. So far, most of the policing proceedings are time-consuming as officers usually have to get back to the department in order to retrieve or gather data. This will no longer be necessary: by using new, portable technology, the needed data can be retrieved on site. Digital technology is also used in other contexts: video surveillance systems are implemented in crime-prone regions for supervising purposes, for example at the Alexanderplatz in Berlin. Likewise, drones are increasingly used in criminal areas for observation. Moreover, with the help of big-data-analytics, the video material can be analyzed so that wanted persons can be found. Artificial Intelligence is changing policing and opens new possibilities for crime prevention – for instance through innovative predictive-policing-solutions that are able to calculate the probability of a crime.
Digitization transforms the everyday work and the overall approach of policing. With digital support the strategy and tactic of modern public safety processes move more and more from a repressive to a preventive perspective. The future police will have strong tools to keep criminals and potential danger from the society while providing a deep and trustful relationship.

Do you think that digital technologies could improve officer and citizen safety?

Yes, technological evolution creates new approaches to solve security issues and enhance our safety and security in every respect – that is the reason why it is necessary to keep up with the digital progress. “Smart“ technologies, like bodycams, can decrease violence against police officers which they have to deal with on a daily basis. Above all, digital solutions facilitate policing, increase police accountability and allow more time for important and essential matters. On top of that, automotive AI can transform the mode of operation by taking crime prevention to another level: officers can be one step ahead of criminals. This predicting software allows them to be in the crime scene before the offense is even committed. In like manner, biometric face and voice recognition software helps to identify crime offenders. Consequently, they can be caught more quickly.

Can you imagine technology as a partner in the field?

Technology will indeed be a ´teammate` in the field – it will accompany officers in all steps of their everyday work. Currently, automations are already occasionally in use and they will extend on all areas of policing in the future. At this point, it is important to underline that digital innovations are developed to assist police officers and to enhance their work. The aim is to expand policing capabilities – not to replace workforce. In this manner, technologies will be a firm and inseparable component of policing. Due to the complexity of such technologies, i.e. algorithm-based big-data-analytics, the vocational education and training of police officers will have to change in order to focus more on how to use those technologies in the field.

What is the future of policing?

In the future, police officers will use modern operational technology, such as modern IT solutions, a mobile-only strategy and drones. Digital assistance systems will guide officers in their daily work. Policing will be shaped by mobility – with connected police cars, for example, officers will be able to work regardless from their location. Also, police work will be assisted by algorithms – officers will make decisions based on big-data-analytics. A lot of beneficial innovations will be improving policing, so could virtual and augmented realities will be used for training purposes to boost up skills in real-life conditions. Likewise, progressive innovative geo-information systems will help to fight against crime.

Is there anything else you wanted to tell us about?

Digital revolution entails tremendous advantages for our safety and security. But it also implies one of the biggest threats of our age. Cybercrime poses a great risk to our society – criminals have also witnessed and explored the profits of digitization. Digital networking enables criminals to operate globally. In the same way, the anonymity of the internet allows them to spread “crime as a service“ in the dark web rendering illegal activities accessible and manageable to everyone nowadays. Also, terrorists have a platform to disseminate their extremist beliefs and views through the world wide web. The list of dangers is long. This means that it is indispensable for governmental organizations to reinforce and improve their digital capabilities to fight these current-day challenges and respond to these threats on equal level.
Due to all this challenges we have to be open minded and brave in using modern technologies and first of all we need to convince and enable the police forces to actively interact with its potential. Otherwise the goals of a modern police cannot be reached. We well see an ongoing transformation and I love being part of it.

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I`m a passionate book lover, open to new ideas. I love facing new challenges and seeking new opportunities.
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