Blockchain and Machine Learning as the Future of Crim-Tech

What is Crim-Tech?
You may be familiar with the term fin-tech. It stands for ‘financial technology’ and is defined as computer programs and other technology used to support or enable banking and financial services. It includes services as simple as online banking and PayPal to algorithms that attempt to predict the stock market.

Although technology in policing isn’t a new idea, we have begun to see an influx in the amount of technology utilized by police agencies worldwide. Because of this, we’ve decided to coin the term ‘crim-tech’. 

Crim-tech stands for ‘criminal technology’ and is defined as any computer program or other technology used to support or enable policing strategies.

Examples of Crim-Tech
Believe it or not, crim-tech has been around at police agencies for decades and is apparent in all aspects of policing, from the initial 911 call to the time someone is arrested. Walkie talkies appeared on the force after WWII. The 911 emergency calling system came about in the US in the late 1950’s. UCR came about in the 1920s, but the technology to facilitate that reporting (RMS and CAD systems) came about about decades later when computers became affordable and accessible. The 1920’s brought about the breathalyzer, and this decade brought about the textalyzer.

During patrol, many police officers are now able to utilize RMS/CAD software in their police cars and on their smartphones allowing them to receive and input data immediately. Body cam legislation is under review across the country. So is legislation on the usage of drones for policing.

Entire policing strategies are based on better use of technology. The new precision policing program being championed by the NYPD focuses on making new technology widely available to all officers in the department. The Police Data Initiative, established by the Whitehouse, is a program that encourages police agencies to openly release any dataset police related to the public.

Crim-tech is being used to create a level of trust by opening up a transparent form of communication with the public. Police agencies and cities are publishing public APIs to push out timely, relevant crime data to the public. Websites like SpotCrime and Nixle make it seamlessly for the public to learn about crime information. Platforms like Nextdoor, Facebook and Twitter help connect agencies and residents quickly and on a social level.

Future of Crim-Tech
What’s next in crim-tech? There are two technologies that could be game changers:
  1. Blockchain - Blockchain is a secure way to secure any database from tampering and revision by maintaining a continuously growing list of ‘blocks’ (or records). It’s currently popular with accounting agencies because of the accountability it provides with record keeping. With blockchain police agencies could begin using an open ledger technology to maintain custody of information and items for law enforcement.
    blockchain police department
  2. Machine Learning - Machine learning gives computers the ability to learn without specific programming. Police agencies could begin using machine learning like Google’s Deep Mind to analyze data patterns to provide quick and unique insight on crime activity and use of police resources. The game ‘Go’ has been played by humans for a 1,000 years, but it was Deep Mind that identified a new play to the game. Perhaps there’s a new unimagined methodology to applying police resources that would not have been discovered without machine learning. 
    machine learning police
Crim-tech has made policing duties easier and has the potential to make policing more efficient. Police agencies should utilize technology whenever possible, as long as it benefits all stakeholders involved - the police agency as well as the community. 


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