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2024 Key Trends in Public Security
More data means more intelligence – if it’s used ethically

Feb 13, 2024

The success of police, security and justice organizations depends on two factors above all: people and data. With 2024 underway, the priorities this year are to align data technologies to the needs of the people who rely on it.

Data is not an end in itself: it is a tool to help people. Put differently, it is the aggregation of data for specific business purpose that creates insight, for example, by providing the right information to the right people at the right time. Given their importance to our everyday lives, police, security and justice organizations need to excel at accessing, using, and managing data, and balancing civil liberties with the needs to prevent and detect crime. The benefits of making better use of data are clear – enabling police officers to be more effective when on patrol – reaching citizens in crisis faster, helping pedestrians where they need it, or catching criminals through better imaging and CCTV. 

But there are big challenges too: organizational barriers (legacy, siloed IT systems, the lack of funding, and not enough people with the necessary skills); structural challenges (the scale, complexity and interconnectivity of data, how it is held and shared, and the remit and jurisdiction of law enforcement agencies in the virtual world); and ethical concerns about what data is available, how it is being integrated and used, and how far we can and should go to stop criminals and terrorists. These limitations have kept the most revolutionary data technologies out of reach of most police, security and justice departments. In the meantime, private businesses – and cyber criminals – are racing ahead with their use of data. While the police are rightly constrained in lawful access, use and sharing data to avoid unnecessary surveillance and infringement on civil liberties, criminals are not so limited. We can’t afford for this gulf to grow any wider. Public understanding, trust and buy-in will be key to using data to achieve policing and justice aims, and to serve the needs of citizens, when they arise, day and night.  

2024 will be a game-changing year for police, security and justice organizations if the challenges can be addressed and opportunities realized. There needs to be a fundamental shift in the way police, security and justice organizations think about and use data. We have identified several key areas for debate:

Security and safety in the virtual world  

Virtual worlds are new territory for policing and justice organizations. Cyberspace is fundamentally open and can be anonymous: there is no guarantee over identity, personhood (given the widespread presence of automated bots), or intent. Whether or not a crime has been committed can be unclear, as are jurisdictions. The potential hazards of the emerging metaverse (interconnected, permanent virtual worlds) include harassment, abuse, grooming, identity theft, fraud, extortion, malware, and hacking. Serious organized crime groups and state-sponsored adversaries exploit the internet globally, hidden behind layers of anonymity, making attribution all but impossible. In this environment, how can we protect people from harm? One solution might be for international law enforcement agreements to share the burden of cyberspace security and agree thresholds for intervention.

Data lakes become the ocean 

One of the problems of data is that there is simply so much of it. Even the simplest criminal investigation is likely to have a digital element – and a single mobile phone can contain gigabytes of potentially relevant data (images, texts, messages, emails, internet searches), and access to more in cloud storage. At an aggregate scale, data will help the police to understand crime trends, predict future crime hotspots and provide strategies to prevent crime. But it is increasingly difficult to manage all this data effectively, link data sources together, and to find the relevant and useful information, at the right time – especially not at the pace of a criminal investigation. And it can be even more difficult to transfer digital information between organizations – for example from police to courts – in order to streamline the justice system. There are issues over disclosure, redaction, and expertise as well as technical barriers. The Capgemini Research Institute found that data ecosystems in the public sector improve public safety, but special concerns arise for data concerning police, security and justice. AI tools will also help with this, if they can be trusted to an evidential threshold. There are no easy answers.

Asymmetric access to data  

Data is constantly being generated by all of us nearly every moment we engage with digital media, use public transport, enter a public building, or walk down a street covered by CCTV. Most of the data which might be useful for public safety is not in the hands of police or security organizations but lies elsewhere. A lot of data is held by private companies, often based overseas, under T&Cs which few people ever read. In some ways people control their own data – such as what is on their mobile phones, and smart doorbells – and can choose to share this information locally with crime prevention neighborhood groups, in informal social networks, or through social media. ‘Open source’ information ‘in the wild’ can be a useful source of intelligence: a new commercial sector has even emerged to gather and analyze open-source information. While law enforcement agencies have no interest in blanket surveillance – which would be illegal and disproportionate – they do need to find ways to better access and use the available data for specific policing and justice purposes, perhaps through better partnering with the private sector.

Game-changing opportunities for police, security and justice organizations in 2024

There are many ways in which making better use of data will generate huge benefits for public safety and security. We have identified a few key areas that will transform policing in the coming year: 

Justice on the move

Full access to their police software and tools through mobile devices and intelligent vehicles will allow police officers to get away from their desks so they can be more visible and effective. Smart sensing capabilities seamlessly integrated into the IT ecosystem will contribute to predictive policing and crime mapping, helping police stay plugged in, even when they’re out, and directing them to where they are most needed. In future, networked sensors will allow the police to collect digital fingerprints on the scene (and perhaps facial recognition imaging) and instantly compare it to a database of suspects, identify individuals against previous convictions, and perhaps undertake immediate digital forensics on smartphones to help them make decisions in situ. Teaming police officers with mini drones feeding them live video in some operations will help them respond.

Automated data integration

Massive amounts of data are being generated by CCTV cameras (often not primarily for law enforcement investigations, but to deter shoplifters and antisocial behavior, or to enforce traffic restrictions), but obtaining, matching and analyzing the data relevant to a criminal investigation is time consuming. Finding ways to automate image analysis and pick out the relevant information would reduce this burden on police time. It also helps to organize the data, for example via the POLE method. Automated facial recognition systems could in future be used to monitor people breaching bail conditions or restraining orders, spot potential terrorists, or flag known troublemakers in crowded places, such as preventing violence at football stadiums. For upcoming events such as the Olympic Games in Paris in 2024 or the European Football Championship in Germany in 2026, these technologies will likely save lives.

One priority for police, security and justice organizations in the coming years will be to create data systems that facilitate the seamless flow of data across organizations. For example, the data gathered by stadium cameras could be made available not only to law enforcement, but to courts as well. Once again, the key is to make data accessible for the people who need it.

AI changes the world (or does it?)  

We have seen rapid developments in AI tools such as ChatGPT using large language models to provide easy-to-use interfaces: Gartner predicts that by 2026, over a third of emergency reports will be initiated by IoT devices or AI assistants. Used in the right way, AI tools will be transformative for policing and justice organizations. AI-powered tools can help the police navigate the data ocean by quickly analyzing large datasets such as criminal records, social media profiles, and surveillance footage. They will help the police to anticipate crime trends and make best use of resources, deploying officers to greatest effect.

AI can create automated tools to free up police time and help police officers make the right decisions by giving them the right information at the right time. But, there are real concerns over issues of bias, trust, and the potential for misuse: AI tools rely on datasets which may themselves be partial, skewed or false – some criminals may seek to ‘poison the data well’ with spoof datapoints, while privacy campaigners are seeking ways to exclude or modify data used by AI. Uncertainties over what can, or should, be done, may prevent policing and justice agencies from reaping the benefits of the technology unless there is clear agreement and guidance as well as ‘approved’ tools and standards. With the EU AI Act around the corner, it’s time to start defining parameters.

This is an exciting and scary time for police, security and justice organizations. We are at a tipping point from data being just one aspect, to being integral to how everything operates. And the data will only get bigger, more complex, and more difficult to use well. It is more critical than ever to build data systems strategically – aligning data strategy with the people who rely on it to serve the public. Getting all this right will need a lot of thinking, experimentation, and learning, as well as public trust and buy-in. Leadership, partnering, and collaboration will all be key, as will developing the right culture, ecosystem and approaches. There is a lot still to do.

This blog was co-authored by Lucy Mason, Anne Legrand, Nick James, Jayhon Zadeh and Vanshikha Bhat.

Further reading

For information about Capgemini’s public security services, visit here.


Dr. Lucy Mason

Innovation Lead, Capgemini Invent Public Sector
“Innovation is key to the future of public sector organizations. I’m passionate about helping them get there, to keep people safe and secure and to build a people-centered, technology-enabled world together. We need to build innovation cultures, upskill people in how to innovate effectively – how to apply great ideas successfully – and leverage rapidly evolving technologies, such as quantum and AI, for the public good.”

Nick James

Executive Vice President, Central Government and Public Security
“To continue to be relevant, public security and safety agencies require better tools, data, and shared intelligence, available when and where they need them. Digitalization, cloud and real time communications are key enablers to achieving this, and are likely to be a key building block for future public security strategies.”

Vanshikha Bhat

Senior Manager, Global Public sector / Industry platform 
” We at Capgemini public sector help governments organizations across the globe in driving initiatives that address the diverse needs of vulnerable populations. Our involvement also aids in navigating complex processes, optimizing resource, and fostering innovation. We thrive towards enhances the impact and sustainability of government programs, positively affecting the lives of those in need.”