As of today, the police have a super detective: the computer

Very nice for the detectives: computers and phones of a suspect who has been seized. But then the suspect says: I was in Paris during the crime. The ordinary detective can still see that the man is standing in front of the Eiffel Tower, but only the computer recognizes the bakery in the small street in the French capital. And then the detective can aim at other suspects.

“Data flows in society are constantly increasing,” said Police Officer Theo van der Plas, Program Director for Digitization and Cybercrime. “Searching with the naked eye is no longer always possible. While data in addition to the classic police work with DNA and fingerprints is increasingly becoming the bloodstream of the police. ”

Suppose a suspect mentions a nearby church in a WhatsApp message. Then pictures on his phone can give a clue as to where that church is. “By using advanced techniques, you can combine the clues from, for example, text and images,” says Sarah Ibrahimi. She is one of seven university researchers – all PhD students in the blue service – who from today will gather the police in the new Police Laboratory Artificial Intelligence. Ibrahimi works at the University of Amsterdam, four new scientists come from Utrecht University.

To chat

Police officers Van der Plas and his colleague Ron Boelsma, who is in charge of the laboratory, expect a lot from the scientific effort (see box at the bottom of this article). A first concrete result is the new way of reporting internet fraud, which should be possible before the summer. There will be a special chat program that helps with notification and where the computer recognizes words that citizens use when reporting as a victim. “Thanked away, delivered, picked up,” Van der Plas gives as an example. The chat program asks questions and helps people find out if it really is a scam – which is often difficult to determine. If so, a real police officer will handle the report further. “This prevents people from having to wait two weeks for the assessment of a written statement, or that time passes because additional information seems necessary.”

In that search for a picture of a church or a WhatsApp message about it, it turns out that computers are not super smart in themselves. “There is a lot of research in text and image data, but for our research it is a challenge to combine it. And when do you see a church in that picture? In that regard, you must first teach a computer to think like a human being. But it is a variant of man who, when he recognizes an image, conjures up the good images with much greater brain power. ” Does the percentage of settled cases skyrocket? Van der Plas: “I hope so”.

What can the police computer do?

Faster and easier reporting are two of the examples that the people at the new lab cite. Other options with artificial intelligence:

– Follow the trail of cocaine. Various studies across the country have concluded that a limited group of drivers are remarkably common when there are shipments of drugs, drivers employed in the same company, after which the study can be continued. These drug lines often start abroad.

– Recognize faster how criminals move their activities, for example from phishing (sending fake emails over the internet) to whatsapp scams. Note that a reputable bank or website is being used as a marketplace, and warn them to block the user. And, if possible, track down these addicts and bring them to justice.

– Recognize that a certain group of people gather conspicuously in the same cafe. In this way, it is possible to locate a group of people ‘clubhouse’ and see if there is in fact a criminal organization.

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