Protecting people in the age of data

Protecting people in the age of data

Posted on: Nov 21, 2017 by Claus Larsen

When I joined the Danish army in the late 1970s, in the days of the “good old cold war” the threat landscape consisted of two well-known blocks – the west and the east. When the wall fell and post 9/11, the world experienced a number of years where fighting seemed very distant for those in the west.

During that time the focus was largely on a single and known threat. Now, even though in some aspects we see an east – west block tendency too, the landscape is entirely different and continually shifts and changes. Of course, geopolitical threats still exist, although in a different shape and form, but terrorism and the large-scale movement of people have changed security needs around the globe.

As has always been the case, security is a politically polarizing topic but no one can deny that the use of technology is vital for public protection. In the digital age, data is a new weapon – used to both protect and disrupt peace.

With the explosion in big data and adaptive, self-learning communications, we are just at the beginning a new journey for security services. The critical capability needed is to gather, analyze and share big data so that they can move from a reactive to a proactive position in protecting citizens.

In the coming months we will be exploring the different ways technology can keep us safe. We will look specifically at:

  • Big data and analytics –Using super computing technology we can now handle vast amounts of data and produce real-time analytics to predict and therefore prevent security incidents.
  • Data sharing – as the world moves to a more globalized position in the security of citizens we will look at the platforms needed for data to be correctly collected, shared and analyzed and how this needs to be compatible with the latest smart technology as well as social media and mobile communications.
  • Communication and collaboration – how new technology can deliver a communications solution that works as a secure and tactical response during a crisis event to allow the security forces and emergency services to stay in contact and share vital information.

Encompassed in the above are the advancements in surveillance and command center technologies, which are used at border control – both blue and green, unregular and regular borders. Alongside face, gait, biometrics and plate recognition, surveillance can now also recognize phone sim cards so the authorities are able to know where the phone originated from. Surveillance at sea is now helping to save lives as political and economic migrants make dangerous journeys by sea to reach safety.

Times are changing. Threats today look very different than they once did. Five years ago the use of technology, particularly surveillance, felt very intrusive, today I am glad to see it in place in major cities. Balance will always be needed when applying any technology that impacts peoples’ lives and privacy. However, it is incumbent on our Governments to keep us safe from harm and embracing and keeping up with advancements in technology is the only way they will be able to respond and prevent the new threats posed.

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