Hack the Police is an annual hackathon organised by Police Rewired; a group for volunteer professionals building tools in public safety and policing, fighting crime with code.

The event is open to developers, designers, data scientists, students, academics, criminologists, crime scientists, serving police officers, and creative problem solvers!  The community are all volunteers, projects are open source, and they build in the open.

HTP Clue

NOTE: Think hacker like “person who hacks something together”, rather than hacker like “person who breaks into things”.

This year’s theme was detect the undetected – and challenged participants to hack away at the world of investigation alongside real police officers, detectives and scene of crime investigators. Participants built new tools to investigate and uncover evidence, help the victims of crime, and save the day!

Sophie Linden, Deputy Major for Policing and Crime in London opened the two day event to describe challenges for police in dealing with increasing amounts of data, the need for police systems to talk to each other, and how leveraging innovative new tech must be part of the solution. For the event Clue has provided a sandbox environment for coders at the event to access, with investigation data and REST APIs.

To understand more we spoke to the Clue team who attended – Managing Director Clare Elford, Product Manager Russell Gould, and Technical Architect Mal Earnest.

Why did Clue chose to sponsor htp4?

Clare – We believe that encouraging innovation and collaboration in policing technology is one of the most valuable things that we as a company can do.  We recognise that the speed at which software can now be designed and prototyped offers an enormous opportunity to policing.  Events like this open up innovation to anyone with a good idea and a desire to put that idea to good use.

Our technology lends itself well to this kind of event – we invest as much in publishing open APIs for our application as we do in the features.  This means that it is straightforward and secure to get data into and out of Clue and for third party applications to link with Clue.  Htp4 also complements our focus on encouraging interoperability across the police sector and technology community, and we are heavily involved in an initiative that has recently been launched by techUK and backed by the Police ICT Company, to promote this.

Tell us a bit about the htp4?

Mal – We spent some time creating a sandbox Clue environment for this event but we also spent some time creating some realistic investigations, with associated data, within Clue.  Having access to an investigative system like Clue that is used by Police and high quality sample data was a massive attraction for the teams. We were delighted that as a result of this 9 hacking teams used Clue, our API and our datasets as the basis upon building their prototypes.

There were some amazing ideas that were being developed – from Natural Language Processing systems to automated witness statement collection apps, Augmented Reality apps to real-time threat detectors. There was even a Police Officer’s virtual assistant named Frank! There was a wide range of technology involved from both a software and hardware perspective.

Tell us about the winning hack?

Russell – The winning team was team WIT. WIT created an app – Witness Statements for Busy Coppers.  The aim was to help front line police to rapidly take witness statements at a crime scene, to provide the public with a convenient means of giving witness information, and to analyse the statements to identify key information for further investigation.

The WIT team were highly impressive from start to finish and their final pitch and presentation not only demonstrated how innovative the hack was, but it also helped those present to totally understand the wider applicability. We feel sure this innovation could be introduced to policing over time and we would be pleased to support the team as they move forward.

The Clue team are already looking forward to next year – Hack the Police 5, and have plenty of ideas about how we can further help the hackers through Clue and our API.  Our award this year was entitled “Have I got Clues for you” and next year Clue award will surely be “Have I got more Clues for you”

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