techUK highlights IoT potential in policing

Report recommends six steps to ensure that internet of things works for public safety

Police forces need to take six steps in harnessing the internet of things (IoT) to improve public safety, according to IT industry association techUK.

These include deployment of a security index for specific devices and services and encouraging the creation of apps for public safety – while treating cyber security as a corporate social responsibility.

Helmet of policeman on dutyThe association has outlined its thinking in a new report, Policing and the Internet of Things, that makes clear the spread of connected devices is providing the potential to improve policing but also creating new threats from cyber criminals.

It points for four major opportunities for the police in using the IoT. One is to improve crime detection by harnessing data from the devices, especially home security systems and smart city sensors.

Second is to use the data in risk analysis and the prioritisation of resources, while the third is to improve the gathering of evidence, especially with digital forensics toolkits. Fourth, it could improve the safety of police officers and the public, such as through enabling police vehicles to communicate with others on the road.

Need for new skills

But the IoT also raises the prospect of new types of crime, such as in hacking into home devices connected to the internet, or disabling broader IoT networks. Combating these will require new types of digital skills, and the report says that a lack of tools, capabilities and appropriate training are already causing problems for police forces.

The report makes six recommendations for police forces in responding to the new demands:

  • Set up new models for partnerships with industry and academia to get access to specialist skills and capabilities. Possible examples are war gaming exercise and an accelerator programme to develop the necessary tools.
  • Deploy a security index for services and devices to reward best practice and drive improvements. This would be based on the Car Theft Index of the 2000s.
  • Public outreach efforts, that could include the production of an educational resource pack for teachers focused on preventing cyber crime.
  • Embed digital skills into policing education and development, both as a standalone module and through wider teaching. This would include a focus on digital forensics, cyber crime and data analytics.
  • Make resources available for the creation of public safety apps, which could be built into the connected infrastructures of smart cities. A priority would be making it easier for at-risk communities to report crime.
  • Make cyber security a corporate social responsibility for police forces.

Assistant Chief Constable Richard Berry, lead for the Digital Investigations and Intelligence Programme in the National Police Chiefs’ Council, commented: “The digital environment presents a number of challenges for public safety and the prevention and detection of crime. Police forces across the country have already adapted locally and there are many pockets of good practice.  However, digital challenges can be different to those previously familiar to many in policing. 

Discover and respond

“Working in new partnerships will help the Police Service discover and respond to threats and opportunities better and, in particular, closer working with industry will be critical. In order to fight crime in the digital age, it is vital that police have a good understanding of market capabilities.

“It will be important to ensure a regular exchange of ideas is facilitated, for police and industry to work collaboratively in responding to new crime and security issues.”

Image by Southbanksteve, CC BY 2.0 through Wikimedia