Critical focus on digital police tools
The project is the first major European research project to critically engage in a comprehensive and cross-border study of digital transformation in law enforcement, focusing on the human and societal implications of technologies such as face recognition, artificial intelligence and data-driven crime prediction.
The CUPP research project (Critical Understanding of Predictive Policing) involves universities and research centres in Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Norway, and the UK that are all facing questions regarding the digitalisation of the public sector as a top political priority. In all the involved countries police forces are increasingly expanding their digital toolboxes, applying advanced data analytics, machine learning and process automation into new areas.
“In fact, we know very little about how Artificial Intelligence, Big Data and other data-driven technologies impact on crime prediction, prevention and solving, or on the relations between the police and civil society. We need to gain more insight and examine how police officers are using these new tools and how this is perceived by the citizens”, says Vasilis Galis, CUPP project manager and professor at the IT University of Denmark.
More specifically, the research program includes topics such as the introduction of controversial new platforms for police data analytics (Denmark and Sweden); the risk of reproducing human bias when applying data from one of the world’s largest gene data banks (Estonia); the implications of face recognition and camera surveillance (Latvia and UK); and the use of AI as a tool for predicting and forecasting future crimes (Norway).
“Like other institutions, the police need to be accountable to the public”, says Vasilis Galis, underlining that all the involved partners have a shared focus on social and ethical concerns, human rights and civil liberties when faced with the increased use of intelligence-led policing.
For the research project to engage with the wider public, the partners will organize a series of citizen seminars in all the involved countries and set up a project website for the dissemination of research insights as the project unfolds. For this purpose, the project has teamed up with the Danish Association of IT Professionals (PROSA) that has a track record of civic engagement and professionally related concerns about the societal aspects of digitalization.
“Hopefully the CUPP project can contribute to more transparency and public debate about the dilemmas related to law enforcement increasingly based on big data and digital solutions”, says Niels Bertelsen, president of the Danish Association of IT Professionals (PROSA) – adding that “Police work is changing with the introduction of new technologies, and in a democratic society it is crucial to have openness about the way the police operates and interacts with the population.”
Professor Vasilis Gallis, The IT University of Denmark, firstname.lastname@example.org, phone +45 3052 2977
President Niels Bertelsen, PROSA, email@example.com, phone +45 4011 4123
Chief of communications Ole Hoff-Lund, PROSA, firstname.lastname@example.org, phone +45 2683 8184
Facts about CUPP (Critical Understanding of Predictive Policing)
Five universities and a research centre take part in the research project:
- IT University of Copenhagen, Denmark
- University of St. Andrews, UK
- University of Latvia, Latvia
- Baltic Studies Centre, Latvia
- Tallinn University of Technology, Estonia
- University of Oslo, Norway
CUPP is a three-year research project, operating on a funding of 1 million EURO from Nordforsk, an organization under the Nordic Council of Ministers.
The project is officially launched with an internal online conference on Friday, February 5, 2021, where the partners will focus on an action plan for the rest of 2021.