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early Pursuit against Organized crime using envirOnmental scanning, the Law and IntelligenCE systems

Periodic Report Summary 1 - EPOOLICE (early Pursuit against Organized crime using envirOnmental scanning, the Law and IntelligenCE systems)

Project Context and Objectives:
Project context

Organized crime is becoming more diverse in its activities and methods including “greater levels of collaboration between criminal groups, greater mobility in and around the EU, a diversification of illicit activity, and a growing dependence on a dynamic infrastructure, anchored in key locations and facilitated by widespread use of the Internet” (the Director of Europol, in his foreword to the OCTA 2011 report).

An important means for law enforcement in combatting such crime is strategic early warning which is heavily depending on an efficient and effective environmental scanning.

For this, the ePOOLICE project will—in close collaboration with law enforcement partners, as well as criminological and legal experts—develop a prototype of an environmental scanning system implementing solutions applying the most promising technological advances and breakthroughs as provided by the RTD partners. The solutions will be tested and evaluated through running realistic use case scenarios that are developed by our user partners.

Central to the solution is development of an environmental knowledge repository of all relevant information and knowledge, including scanned information and derived, learned or hypothesized knowledge, as well as the metadata needed for credibility and confidence assessment, traceability, and privacy protection management. For effective and efficient utilization, as well as for interoperability, the repository will apply a standard representation form for all information and knowledge.

For effective and efficient scanning of the raw information sources, the project will develop an intelligent environmental radar that will utilize the knowledge repository for focusing the scanning.

Main objectives

The development of the platform will be guided by the end-user needs and the ethical/legal issues through active participations of LEAs and application of use case scenarios providing a problem oriented drive for the project and using privacy by design approach. As depicted in the attached figure , “The ePOOLICE system “, a key component of the framework is semantic filtering for identification of data items that constitutes weak signals of emerging organized crime threats, exploiting fully the concept of crime hubs, crime indicators, and facilitating factors, as understood by our user partners.

The main objectives of the project are solutions supporting:

1. Detection of organized crime:
a. Detect the existence of criminal activities typically run by organized crime.
b. Discover organized crime and underlying criminal organizations as early as possible to prevent further formation of stronger, more resilient criminal systems.

2. Prediction of the evolution of organized crime. This requires environmental scanning system for analysing and developing scenarios of possible threats in the future.

The environmental scanning system we commit to develop during the ePOOLICE project will provide a systematic overview the surrounding environment to better appreciate, assess and anticipate an emerging crime, by monitoring the environment and capturing in real-time relevant information present in heterogeneous sources, including law enforcement analysis reports, governmental information, web, social media, news, academia, non-governmental and international organizations, and subject matter experts,

The system will support:

• disparate information sources and diverse media forms (free text, audio);
• multiply lingual support, with English and German implemented;
• dissemination and exchange of information and knowledge of potential interest to the law enforcement agencies;
• visualization of potentially emerging OC threats for OC threat assessment;
• early warning with alerts in cases of detection of potentially emerging new OC threats;
• storing and utilization of hypothesis and notes from user;
• utilization of user feedback on findings for refinement of the system’s domain knowledge; analysis and decision making in addressing emerging OC threats, considering the validity and the seriousness of the detected threats.

Besides ePOOLICE refines a methodology - comprising legal, privacy, ethics and standardization aspects - to monitor heterogeneous information sources and identify and prioritize indicators to outline a strategic early warning process. This way the monitoring system has knowledge about a number of organized crime types, their facilitators, identifying signatures and indicators. For each type, it “knows” what to look for and the relevant information sources to scan. More important sources are scanned more frequently.
Project Results:
During this reporting period, first half of the ePOOLICE project, from January 2013 till June 2014, the work performed and the main results achieved correspond to the main objectives established for the period, being these:

- Start running the project, having the management structures and procedures working adequately.
- Setup of a project website, with a public area for dissemination purposes and a private area as a tool for exchanging internal project information between partners.
- Develop and foster a network of European security professionals in the field of Organized Crime (OC) (LEAs, police, criminological institutes, etc) and to facilitate dialog and collaboration with the research community.
- Ensure the commitment and involvement of End-users across the duration of the project in order to exchange the necessary information and know-how which drives the project.
- Gathering of end-user’s needs expectations and constraints.
- Start the work and get the first results –as an output report - on a refine threat assessment methodology supporting the developing of an efficient and effective environmental scanning system as part of the early warning system.
- Start the work on Dynamic scenario development. Two use cases have been defined, one on trafficking of human beings (THB) and other on cocaine trafficking.
- First study on privacy by design in order to apply these principles in ePOOLICE.
- Study of the Legal and ethical framework for respecting privacy in order to prepare the legal recommendations.
- A first basic version of the platform architecture (V1) to get an early feedback from the consortium.
- Early description of the EKR (Environmental Knowledge Repository) model as a common, yet flexible model for representing environmental domain knowledge regardless of its source.
- Preliminary analysis of the options and the feasibility of promoting the EKR model as a standard.
- Design and development of tools for environmental scanning and data acquisition.
- Adaptation and extension of BML (Battle Management Language) for use as pivot language for the English case.
- Selection of operational software tools for information fusion and data analysis, for automated detection of relevant crime types as well as anomalies using heterogeneous information.
- First version of fusion models which capture relations between the fused data.
- First Integration of Fusion Processes: Integration framework with interfaces to the components in the fusion and data analysis toolboxes.
- Early non-integrated prototype of visualization tools.
- Early non-integrated prototype of Situation assessment tools.
- Early non-integrated prototype of Sentiment analysis tools.
- ePOOLICE early prototype demonstration.
- Dissemination activities mainly in the way of paper publications, project presentations, and conference organization. A dissemination plan has been put in place.

The early prototype demonstration can be considered as a global goal, comprising most of the above mentioned objectives, and a way to present them to the end-users during a workshop where the project midterm results are reviewed and end-users’ feedback is collected.

Potential Impact:
The main expected final results, correspond to the main objectives pursued, that is:

- development of a prototype of an environmental scanning system implementing solutions applying the most promising technological advances and breakthroughs as provided by the RTD partners,

- development of an environmental knowledge repository of all relevant information and knowledge, including scanned information and derived, learned or hypothesized knowledge, as well as the metadata needed for credibility and confidence assessment, traceability, and privacy protection management,

- refinement of a methodology - comprising legal, privacy, ethics and standardization aspects - to monitor heterogeneous information sources and identify and prioritize indicators to outline a strategic early warning process. This way the monitoring system has knowledge about a number of organized crime types, their facilitators, identifying signatures and indicators. For each type, it “knows” what to look for and the relevant information sources to scan. More important sources are scanned more frequently.

The impacts expected, as it is stated in the DoW are:

- Increasing the effectiveness of the National Police Forces, criminological institutes and private businesses by enabling rapid identification and qualification of new Organised Crime (OC) threats within the policing and law enforcement environment.

- Providing more effective information into foresight to fight against terrorism, drug trafficking and all sorts of organised crime, by representing accurately the external environment. Using advanced technologies (semantic web, fuzzy logic, knowledge representation and reasoning under uncertainty) the system will process, aggregate timely high volume of open source information, detecting and representing in suitable way (e.g. environmental map) the potential threat.

- Providing a better understanding of the new and upcoming technologies and trends, leading to the strategic planning into security issues of all stakeholders.

List of Websites:
www.epoolice.eu