In recent years, Big Data technology has revolutionised many domains, including the retail, healthcare and transportation sectors. However, the use of Big Data technology for policing has so far been limited, and particularly so here in the UK.
There’s a lack of research exploring the potential uses of Big Data analytics for UK policing. The latest paper from the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), authored by analyst Alexander Babuta, is intended to contribute to this evidence base. Primary research in the form of interviews with 25 serving police officers and staff, as well as experts from the technology sector and academia, has provided new insights into the limitations of the police service’s current use of data and the police’s priorities for expanding these capabilities.
The research has identified a number of fundamental limitations in the police’s current use of data. In particular, the research paper finds that the fragmentation of databases and software applications is a significant impediment to the efficiency of police forces, as police data is managed across multiple separate systems that are not mutually compatible.
Moreover, in the majority of cases, the analysis of digital data is almost entirely manual, despite software being available to automate much of this process.
In addition, police forces don’t have access to advanced analytical tools to trawl and analyse unstructured data, such as images and video, and for this reason are unable to take full advantage of the UK’s surveillance capabilities.