Public Security Technology: Security in a nutshell – Part Three
In this final blog of the series, we focus on developments in public security technology that help law enforcement agencies combat crime and improve civil security.
In every country, the main aim of the police or other law enforcement agencies is to provide maximum security to its citizens and TCNs (Third Country Nationals). A TCN can be a foreign business visitor or tourist staying for a short period or a permanent foreign resident living and working in the country. To protect the public, law enforcement agencies take various actions to prevent, detect, and investigate crime.
In the past, fixed checkpoints were the most common crime prevention strategy employed by the police. They also deployed large numbers of personnel, aiming to reassure the public and deter criminals or terrorists. However, this visible display of authority often creates public unease, while criminals found increasingly sophisticated means to avoid detection. Furthermore, a strategy of conspicuous policing is a significant drain on resources.
Public security technology
In contrast, the modern strategy for crime prevention is heavily dependent on public security technology. Today’s law enforcement agencies use various security applications and systems to help improve their efficiency and dramatically reduce crime rates.
Technology applied to physical security and public safety is a bespoke branch of information technology developed specifically to support law enforcement. The focus is on processing identity-related data to reveal the identity of victims or POIs (Persons of Interest).
Because identity-related information verifies and identifies specific individuals, these security systems contain fewer data elements than the vast quantities commonly used within other information systems. For law enforcement purposes, these elements include biographic data, biometric data, and metadata.
Identity-related biographic data combine specific data elements that uniquely define a person or identity – a combination of the first name, last name, gender, date of birth, place of birth, and nationality. In addition, each country defines its own criteria. In other words, the minimum set of identity-related data that can specifically identify a trusted unique identity.
To support the unique identification of travelers, the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) of the United Nations created international passport standards for member states. These standards subsequently formed the basis for efficient information systems used by law enforcement and border security teams, helping them find Persons of Interest (POIs) and deliver improved security. Furthermore, the same standards help improve the delivery of governmental services. For example, they help create electronic documents such as driver’s licenses and secure documents for electoral systems and health insurance.
Biometric data is unique to each individual, and therefore cannot be shared with another person. There are two distinct types of biometrics: behavioral biometrics and physical biometrics. Behavioral biometrics include keystrokes, handwriting, gait, and voice, while physical biometrics encompass fingerprints, facial imaging, and iris patterns. Physical biometrics are most commonly applied in public security technology, mainly because their use is more accurate than behavioral biometrics.
Biometric information systems are used widely for civil applications and to combat crime. In particular, law enforcement agencies and border security authorities use these systems to determine the identities of POIs. For instance, Electronic passports or biometric passports contain a smart chip that stores a facial image and two fingerprints. This information can verify the identity of a genuine traveler or flag up a stolen passport. Similarly, electronic gates at airports can automatically identify travelers. The system first captures a live image of an individual’s face, then compares it with the image stored on the passport’s smart chip. After confirming a match, the electronic gate will open.
Law enforcement agencies use other biometric systems. The most sophisticated and well-known criminal biometric system is AFIS (Automated Fingerprint Identification System). Personnel within CSI (Crime Scene Investigation) teams use this system to find criminal perpetrators or reveal a deceased individual’s identity.
Other examples include forensic facial recognition systems. Law enforcement personnel in locations with good CCTV coverage can find POIs by comparing their facial image with those stored in a database of wanted persons. The system extracts, in real-time, the facial features of each person passing in front of the camera, then compares them against the database images. The surveillance facial recognition system used by London’s Metropolitan Police, LFR (Live Facial Recognition), has proved highly successful in combating crime. However, civil organizations and human rights groups continue to raise personal privacy concerns.
Achieving maximum protection
Although many countries use advanced information systems to help provide maximum protection and security for their citizens and visitors, security gaps and vulnerabilities exist.
The closure of security gaps is essential if we are to achieve true interoperability between global information systems used for border security, counterterrorism, and public safety. The new European Universal Message Format (UMF) and the POLE (Persons, Objects, Locations, and Event) standards can help achieve maximum security and improve the investigation and prevention of terrorism and serious crime.
WCC can help mitigate the challenges facing today’s law enforcement and border control agencies. As a leading developer of public security technology, we provide advanced ID/Security solutions for government agencies worldwide. Our ELISE ID Platform delivers high-quality biographic/biometric matching while meeting UMF standards. If you want more information, don’t hesitate to contact us and set up a call with our ID/Security experts.