We are now a long way from the days of the neighborhood police officer who knew and protected the people of their community. Just 50 years ago, most crimes were local, and those that weren’t could adequately be handled by national policing organizations.
Now, in an increasingly global and digital world, crimes are often cross border and highly complex. No longer can a beat cop talk to the locals, find out what they saw, and track down a perpetrator. Police at all levels are overwhelmed and over matched.
In point of fact, though, policing is always trying to play catch up to the criminals. New tools, techniques, and technologies need to be deployed against emerging threats – and a key technology is already being prepped for just such a purpose: blockchain.
Worldcore, a European fintech company, takes a serious interest in crime detection and prosecution. As an all-in-one payment service provider, they have to in their ongoing efforts to keep their customers and business safe. In this article, we are presenting a summary of what Worldcore has discovered about the state of policing and blockchain around the world.
How Does Blockchain Help Policing?
At their base, blockchains are nothing more than records stored in a distributed fashion. They use interlocking encryption methods to ensure that once information has been uploaded to the blockchain, that information can never be tampered with. They also make, depending on the nature of the blockchain, the information publicly available to any interested parties, anytime, anywhere in the world.
Currently, one of the biggest obstacles in global policing is sharing information – and especially getting that information to the right person, in the right place, at the right time to interdict a crime or arrest a criminal.
Alex Nasonov, head of ICO Worldcore, observes that blockchains, as a super-secure interactive data storage technology is a perfect way to store and share all kinds of crucial information, from most wanted lists, to criminal records, to evidence found in ongoing investigations, to invoices for the number of hamburgers agents on stakeouts ordered.
Steps Towards Blockchain-based Policing
As a first step toward this goal, we could start storing national and Interpol suspect databases on one or more blockchains. This would make it far simpler for agents to notice red flags and detain suspects attempting to cross boarders or domestically for local police to pick up suspects in routine checks or stops.
This one simple act would dramatically increase the efficacy of police at all levels, and would dramatically decrease the cost of information sharing and sorting.
The next step would be to start digitizing and uploading all evidence collected while investigating crimes. It’s no secret that sometimes investigators and prosecutors are tempted to tamper with evidence or omit exculpatory evidence in their zeal to get a conviction. This is not simply an issue in developing countries or countries where the rule of law is questionable at best, but can also be regularly found in the headlines of developed countries in Europe or North America.
By instantly uploading all evidence to an immutable blockchain, falsifications, omissions, and distortions will not be possible as the first version will always be provable to be the untampered with original. The evidence stored on the blockchain will itself become the standard of proof required in court.
Policing Blockchains in Action
After Bitcoin has proven the concept of an immutable blockchain for absolutely trustless record keeping, projects have begun popping with a view to using blockchains in policing. The British
proposed a distributed ledger for police data storage in late 2017. At about the same time,
HoustonKemp, an Australian consulting company, began work on a similar project. Then in mid-2018, the Indian police initiated their own distributed data storage project, calling it
Of course, all of these projects are in their preliminary stages, and it is difficult to know how far they will progress or what results they will yield. What we can say is that many already see the possibilities for the use of blockchains and that the number of use-cases are only likely to increase.
Taking it a Step Beyond
Worldcore has determined that the usefulness of blockchains to policing will go far beyond those mentioned. For example, many non-police related types of data could be stored on distributed ledgers: shipping records, insurance, land rights, … you name it.
If all of this information becomes readily and immutably accessible by police, it will greatly simplify their efforts to solve particular types of crimes. For example, when a car is insured, all sorts of data about the car’s ownership history, maintenance, and more will be instantly available in the event of an accident or if the car is stolen. Many hours of dreary work will be eliminated allowing officers to focus on their core mission – protecting and serving the people.
In Nigeria, Interpol have partnered with a payment company, VoguePay, to collect information about transactions at the point of sale in a program named
Interport. Every vendor then becomes a user of the database, and in the event of a crime, Interpol and the local police will be well equipped to investigate, instantly.
In India, Zebi, a big-data startup founded in the spring of 2018, is storing property and land registries on their ledger. They are also storing information on the local hotel guests, allowing the police to better monitor visitors with criminal pasts and ensure that they do not pose a current danger to the local residents.
All in all, according to Alexey Nasonov’s Worldcore review of the matter, distributed ledger technologies are well capable of solving some long-standing issues with information storage and sharing for police working at the local, national, and international levels. Though we are still at nascent stages, the benefits to us all for security in our persons and property is enormous. Just one more benefit of the blockchain breakthrough.