Fighting Crime with Data: An Ethical Dilemma

Henry Rodrigues our consultant managing the role
Posting date: 11/15/2018 9:27 AM
Can you be guilty of a crime you’ve yet to commit? That’s the premise of Steven Spielberg’s 2002 sci-fi thriller ‘Minority Report’. But could it actually be closer to reality than you think.  

As technology has advanced, law enforcement has had to adapt. With criminals utilising increasingly sophisticated methods to achieve their goals, our police forces have had to continuously evolve their approach in order to keep up.  

New digital advances have refined crime-solving techniques to the point where they can even predict the likelihood of a specific crime occurring. But with our personal data at stake, where do we draw the line between privacy and public safety? 


Caught on Camera  


The digital transformation has led to many breakthroughs over the past few decades, originating with fingerprint analysis, through to the advanced Machine Learning models now used to tackle Fraud and analyse Credit Risk.  

With an estimated one camera per every 14 individuals in the UK, CCTV coverage is particularly dense. And, with the introduction of AI technologies, their use in solving crimes is likely to increase even further.  

IC Realtime’s Ella uses Computer Vision to analyse what is happening within a video. With the ability to recognise thousands of natural language queries, Ella can let users search footage for exactly what they’re after; from specific vehicles, to clothes of a certain colour. With only the quality of CCTV cameras holding it back, we’re likely to see technology like this become mainstream in the near future.  

Some more widespread technologies, however, are already playing their part in solving crimes. Detectives are currently seeking audio recordings from an Amazon Echo thought to be active during an alleged murder. However, as with previous requests for encrypted phone data, debate continues around what duty tech companies have to their customer’s privacy. 


Hotspots and Hunches


Whilst Big Data has been used to help solve crime for a while, we’ve only seen it begin to play a preventive role over the past few years. By using Predictive Analytics tools such as HunchLab to counter crime, law enforcement services can: 

  • Direct resources to crime hotspots where they are most needed. 
  • Produce statistical evidence that can be shared with local and national-level politicians to help inform and shape policy.  
  • Make informed requests for additional funding where necessary.  

Research has shown that, in the UK, these tools have been able to predict crime around ten times more accurately than the police.  

However, above and beyond the geographical and socioeconomic trends that define these predictions, advances in AI have progressed things even further.  

Often, after a mass shooting, it is found that the perpetrators had spoken about their planned attack on social media. The size of the social landscape is far too big for authorities to monitor everyone, and often just scanning for keywords can be misleading. However, IBM’s Watson can understand the sentiment of a post. This huge leap forward could be the answer to the sincere, and fair, policing of social media that we’ve yet to see.


Man vs Machine 


Whilst our social media posts may be in the public domain, the question remains about how much of our data are we willing to share in the name of public safety.  

There is no doubt that advances in technology have left us vulnerable to new types of crime, from major data breaches, to new ways of cheating the taxman. So, there is an argument to be had that we need to surrender some privacy in order to protect ourselves as well as others. But who do we trust with that data? 

Humans are all susceptible to bias and AI inherits the biases of its creators. Take a program like Boulder, a Santa-esque prototype that analyses the behaviour of people in banks, determining who is ‘good’ and who is ‘bad’. Whilst it can learn signs of what to look for, it’s also making decisions based around how it’s been taught ‘bad’ people might look or act. As such, is it any more trustworthy than an experienced security guard? 

If we ignore human bias, do we trust emotionless machines to make truly informed decisions? A study that applied Machine Learning to cases of bail found that the technology’s recommendations would have resulted in 50% less reoffenders than the original judges’ decisions. However, whilst the evidence suggests that this may be the way forward, it is unlikely that society will accept such an important, life-changing decision being made by a machine alone. 

There is no black and white when it comes to how we use data to prevent and solve crime. As a society, we are continuously pushing the boundaries and determining how much technology should impact the way we govern ourselves. If you can balance ethics with the evolution of technology, we may have a role for you.  

Take a look at our latest roles or contact one of our expert consultants to find out how we can help you. 

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Integrate Your Data And Business Strategies For Success

Why You Need To Integrate Your Data and Business Strategies

United we stand, together we fall. Not too put too fine a point to it, but how your business and data strategies align are integral to your business. Today’s world is about change, being able to pivot toward new strategies, and being open to trying new things. Consider this: the “mom-and-pop” shop is back and it is flourishing. Younger generations of farmers are returning to their family farms when they graduate and they’re bringing new knowledge with them. And the makerspace, freelance, and gig economies are thriving. These businesses are learning how to work with technology and align their Data Strategy with their Business strategy. Some legacy enterprises are taking notice. Others are missing the mark. Consumers may have changed how they want to shop and learn about services and products, but the services they want and expect haven’t changed that much which is why it’s more important than ever to “know your customer.”  3 Key Elements of Integrated Strategies While there are a number of things to take into consideration as you align your strategies, these three key elements can help get you started. 1. Understand the key elements of Business Strategy. 2. Apply innovation strategy to business objectives. 3. Determine key elements of your Data Strategy for use in a real-world scenario. Understand the key elements of business strategy  A business strategy encapsulates two main ideas; cost advantage versus competition. The cost advantage includes costs and other resources, identification and awareness of strengths, weaknesses, and competition. Competitive advantage happens when you’ve done your market research and can show what makes you different from any other provider with similar goods and services. This is the time you might perform a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunity, and threat) analysis of your business. It’s helpful to include your mission and vision statements, objectives, core values, risk tolerance, and understanding trends in your business. Apply Innovation Strategy to Business Objectives Ideas and innovation flow when you and your business understand your customers and are able to easily shift into new things. Think R&D into Bioinformatics, automated tasks into AI, or a platform such as streaming services to help sell services such as insurance. Laying the groundwork to apply innovation strategies to your business objectives follow these ideas: Identify your business objectives by asking questions.Assess the budget and personnel resources and develop a budget strategy.Test the market to determine what issues will or need to be solved and understand how this innovation will benefit your overall strategy. If you’re working on a Data initiative to integrate into your Business strategy, one of the key elements is to determine how those changes may affect your business. Determine Key Elements of Data Strategy for Use in Real-World Scenarios As you work on developing your Data Strategy, it’s important to consider all the elements required to ensure success. So, what do you need to take into consideration when working on this type of strategy? Here are some things to consider as you develop your framework. Determine your business needs and their current state.Determine what works and what can be improved upon if there is a technology improvement or process.Evaluate your Data from sales, profit, and evaluate your progress.}Develop an action plan. Many businesses don’t incorporate just one type of Data into their strategy. They consider the potential impact of technologies such as Machine Learning, Predictive and Data Analytics, and other Big Data Strategies to drive improvements when it comes to decision making. They understand these Data-driven insights can help them improve or solve their most critical problems. There is a caveat, however, and it is how you collect the information for real-world scenarios. Certain requirements are in place for a reason and they ensure only relevant Data is collected. This is done by formulating “predictive models” and necessary information to operate and determine whether your case will be something to be done over time or if it’s something brand new to consider when looking at real-time access. One Final Thought… Data-centric organisations have a distinct advantage over their competition. The information gained from collecting and analysing to understanding their customers can offer great insight as to what’s working and what isn’t. Integrating your Business Strategy with a Data Strategy can offer you a more well-rounded understanding of the customers you serve and can ultimately, help you to serve them better; now and in the future. Disruptive business models from this way of thinking can also foster growth and lead to innovative changes in your marketplace. If you want to be at the forefront of change we may have a role or candidate for you. Take a look at our latest opportunities or get in touch with one of our expert consultants to find out more.

How Big Data Is Impacting Logistics

How Big Data is Impacting Logistics

As Big Data can reveal patterns, trends and associations relating to human behaviour and interactions, it’s no surprise that Data & Analytics are changing the way that the supply chain sector operates today.  From informing and predicting buying trends to streamlining order processing and logistics, technological innovations are impacting the industry, boosting efficiency and improving supply chain management.  Analysing behavioural patterns Using pattern recognition systems, Artificial Intelligence is able to analyse Big Data. During this process, Artificial Intelligence defines and identifies external influences which may affect the process of operations (such as customer purchasing choices) using Machine Learning algorithms. From the Data collected, Artificial Intelligence is able to determine information or characteristics which can inform us of repetitive behaviour or predict statistically probable actions.  Consequently, organisation and planning can be undertaken with ease to improve the efficiency of the supply chain. For example, ordering a calculated amount of stock in preparation for a busy season can be made using much more accurate predictions - contributing to less over-stocking and potentially more profit. As a result, analysing behavioural patterns facilitates better management and administration, with a knock-on effect for improving processes.  Streamlining operations  Using image recognition technology, Artificial Intelligence enables quicker processes that are ideally suited for warehouses and stock control applications. Additionally, transcribing voice to text applications mean stock can be identified and processed quickly to reach its destination, reducing the human resource time required and minimising human error.  Artificial intelligence has also changed the way we use our inventory systems. Using natural language interaction, enterprises have the capability to generate reports on sales, meaning businesses can quickly identify stock concerns and replenish accordingly. Intelligence can even communicate these reports, so Data reliably reaches the next person in the supply chain, expanding capabilities for efficient operations to a level that humans physically cannot attain. It’s no surprise that when it comes to warehousing and packaging operations Artificial Intelligence can revolutionise the efficiency of current systems. With image recognition now capable of detecting which brands and logos are visible on cardboard boxes of all sizes, monitoring shelf space is now possible on a real-time basis. In turn, Artificial Intelligence is able to offer short term insights that would have previously been restricted to broad annual time frames for consumers and management alike.  Forecasting  Many companies manually undertake forecasting predictions using excel spreadsheets that are then subject to communication and data from other departments. Using this method, there’s ample room for human error as forecasting cannot be uniform across all regions in national or global companies. This can create impactful mistakes which have the potential to make predictions increasingly inaccurate.  Using intelligent stock management systems, Machine Learning algorithms can predict when stock replenishment will be required in warehouse environments. When combined with trend prediction technology, warehouses will effectively be capable enough to almost run themselves  negating the risk of human error and wasted time. Automating the forecasting process decreases cycle time, while providing early warning signals for unexpected issues, leaving businesses better prepared for most eventualities that may not have been spotted by the human eye.  Big Data is continuing to transform the world of logistics, and utilising it in the best way possible is essential to meeting customer demands and exercising agile supply chain management.  If you’re interested in utilising Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to help improve processes, Harnham may be able to help. Take a look at our latest opportunities or get in touch with one of our expert consultants to find out more.  Author Bio: Alex Jones is a content creator for Kendon Packaging. Now one of Britain's leading packaging companies, Kendon Packaging has been supporting businesses nationwide since the 1930s.

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