Reflections and takeaways: NPCC Advanced Data Analytics conference

Ian Billsborough / Homeland Security Sector Lead | 22/02/2024

A short summary of key takeaways and reflections from the excellent NPCC Advanced Data Analytics conference, organised by Chris Todd, Nick Dale and the Centre for Data Analytics in Policing team, by Ian Billsborough (Homeland Security Sector Lead at Naimuri).

Operational Impact, Partnerships and Future Opportunities.

Operational impact: There are many outstanding examples of mature advanced data analytics and data science capabilities in policing that are routinely making an operational impact and reducing harm. Policing has clearly invested and innovated the application of advanced data science techniques over recent years and the progress is making a real difference to the public. There were many examples, a couple that stood out for me were -

TOEX – Clearly making a strong impact and reducing harm in the threat areas of vulnerability and exploitation. This capability has much to offer as it provides a scalable threat agnostic platform and tools, which have been very effectively embedded into regional teams. Of particular note, TOEX has balanced innovative use of technology alongside people and policy. It proves the principle that for a technology solution to be effective it must be fully embedded and adopted into operational teams and processes.

CESIUM – Offers massive potential and is already demonstrably supporting policing to identify and protect vulnerable people and children. A notable aspect of this initiative is the partnership with academia who, as well as providing technical insights into the development of data science techniques, have maintained and embedded their relationship within the ongoing project to provide continuous iterative development and assurance. This is something that is critical when considering maintaining transparency and trust in the techniques and algorithms used.

Future opportunities: As much as there is great progress there is even more still to do. There were many opportunities to scale existing capabilities as well as innovate and implement new. Op Ignition was another great example as this, currently limited, pilot is using data analytics to routinely identify and protect vulnerable children exploited in county lines activities.

Funding and creating the Centre for Data Analysis in Policing (CDAP) to support the existing NPCC portfolios, academic and supplier partnerships is a really positive step forward. As well as providing a central point to coordinate and collaborate there are also firm plans to provide tangible support and benefits – things like an expert practitioners group, a platform for data analytics and developing a Data Analytics policy of which we had a short introduction (CEDER – Complexity and Operational effect; Ethics; Data; Efficacy; Readiness).

Partnerships: In every positive development showcased at the conference there was a common theme. Police led innovation supported by strong partnerships with suppliers and academia. These partnerships have clearly accelerated, enriched and provided diversity in how projects have developed. CDAP will be able to further enhance this approach.

Supplier partnerships enable immediate access to specialists and rapid innovation of early prototypes and Alphas, in a way that also transfers expertise and knowledge back into policing teams. This is something that I am very familiar with in our work at Naimuri where we regular support operational practitioners develop and then hand over advanced data analytics capabilities into operational use. Seeing the rapid development and deployment of these capabilities is one of the most rewarding aspects of our work.

Academic partnerships clearly bring access to subject matter expertise and deep evidence bases on which helps policing to build their data science capabilities. It was clear that there are better outcomes where these are developed and funded over the long term, being maintained as important and mutually beneficial partnerships.

Overall, a positive and exciting insight into the current state of advanced data analytics across policing. It will be interesting to see what happens over the next 12 months and revisit this at next year’s conference. Well done to the CDAP team, an excellent event.

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