According to a recent investigation, the New Zealand Police has been spending millions on its main technology system, despite glaring shortcomings. The police force has added high-tech data mining tools and visual analytics technology to their system, which already contains over 10 million documents and seven million personal identities. They have also conducted massive data extractions from the dark web and regular internet, including people’s social media data. However, an ICT assessment two years ago revealed several red flags regarding the system’s security, compliance, and data management.
In response to these deficiencies, IBM has stepped in to help address the issues through more than $11 million in IT contracts with the police. In their assessment of the police ICT system in 2021, IBM identified multiple areas that required improvement. They found duplicated systems, ad hoc performance measures and priorities, and a lack of an overarching enterprise architecture. Furthermore, they highlighted a lack of strategy and potential political consequences if non-governmental parties discovered failures in whole-of-government adoption of cloud-first approaches.
One significant problem with the police computer system is its incomplete and disjointed nature. Different business areas within the organization manage their own “shadow IT” for data management purposes. This decentralized approach results in invisible data that falls outside standard logging practices. While it may not be possible for an organization to achieve optimized scores in every architectural domain, there is a need for continuous improvement.
The New Zealand Police claimed that they are using technology to support their mission of preventing crime and harm through exceptional policing. However, it is evident that there are challenges within their ICT infrastructure that need urgent attention. The pressure to meet deadlines has led them to expand existing systems rather than invest in entirely new intelligence search tools.
The cost of implementing ICT solutions is significant, particularly when relying on large American technology companies like IBM. The New Zealand Police spent $31 million on five upgrades alone, which was 50 percent over budget. Additionally, their spending on contractors and consultants, including IT, nearly doubled to $91 million last year.
The introduction of SearchX and new visual analytics tools aims to link police databases for the first time and collect data from open internet search engines. However, the police have been tight-lipped about the specific technologies they use for internet tracking, citing concerns that providing such information to criminals would harm the community.
To address deficiencies in their intelligence system, the police have recognized the need for additional context and information derived from a wide range of sources. Their priorities include obtaining predictive analytics and geospatial tools for crime analysis. This year, they acquired ArcGIS from Esri, an American company specializing in crime “hot spot” maps.
The growing market for law enforcement software has attracted major tech companies that offer crime data mining and smart mapping technologies. While proponents argue that data-driven policing can improve public safety, critics raise concerns about potential erosion of civil liberties. Market analysts predict significant opportunities for growth in the law enforcement software market in the Asia-Pacific region.
The deduction, IBM’s involvement in addressing deficiencies within the New Zealand Police’s technology system is a step towards improving security, compliance, and data management. The collaboration between law enforcement agencies and tech giants raises important questions about privacy rights and civil liberties. As technology continues to play a crucial role in policing efforts worldwide, it is essential to strike a balance between effective crime prevention measures and protecting individual freedoms.
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