Citizen Forensics




UPDATE: Exciting opportunities to join the team for this research project - we have vacancies for a Software Engineering post-doc: http://www.open.ac.uk/about/employment/vacancies/post-doctoral-research-associate-15086 and a Research Software Engineer: http://www.open.ac.uk/about/employment/vacancies/research-software-engineer-15085

I am excited to learn that our bid to undertake a new EPSRC funded research project, "Citizen Forensics" has been successful.  The project sits at the intersection of software engineering, psychology, policing and power/politics/economics, exploring the use of technology to improve collaboration between citizens and the police.  I will be leading the project, which will involve my colleagues Blaine Price, Bashar Nuseibeh, Graham Pike (OU Psychology / Centre for Policing Research & Learning), Mark Levine (Psychology Exeter) and Peter Bloom (OU Faculty of Business & Law).

A key challenge of the project is to investigate how adaptive software architectures could support the contextual information flows required to deliver the community-police collaborations envisaged for Citizen Forensics, preserving key properties such as privacy and forensic-soundness.  As part of this we plan to explore ways of representing domain knowledge such as policing regulations, forensic requirements for particular investigations and privacy requirements that will enable runtime the runtime adaptation of the system. The project focusses on the challenge of using and interacting with personal data in the context of policing by developing insights into how social identities and group behaviours affect the construction and use personal data as evidence.  We will use these insights to create a socio-technical system for Citizen Forensics that configures dynamic collaborations between police, citizens and technology, moderated by privacy and forensic-soundness requirements.

The project will address the following specific objectives:

  • Understand the role of adaptive technologies in the context of police investigations and public safety for enhancing the role of the “digital citizen” through the creation of “virtual civic spaces” for citizen-police collaboration.
  • Develop new models of citizen-police engagement that leverage the capabilities of pervasive technologies, taking into account the role of citizen and community identities in these engagements, and the needs of policing agencies and criminal justice legislation.
  • Build an adaptive software architecture that supports the contextual information flows required to deliver the community-police collaborations envisaged for Citizen Forensics, preserving key properties such as privacy and forensic-soundness.

We will draw on expertise in computing, policing, psychology and organisational theory to deliver on these objectives working together with our partners who represent both policing organisations and communities, as well as the broader community of researchers, policy makers and software developers. This will enable the co-creation of research challenges and their solutions.

More information about the project will be available soon, but the Open University news story on the award of the grant can be found here: Exploring technologies to improve how citizens and the police work together to keep us safe