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Research Questions

  1. How will web technologies that are just over the horizon, including semantic tagging, intelligent agents, and the Internet of Things (IoT), change how the criminal justice enterprise operates?
  2. How can the criminal justice community take advantage of (and reduce the risks from) these emerging web technologies?

Future World Wide Web technologies commonly labeled as being part of Web 3.0 and Web 4.0 could substantially change how the criminal justice enterprise operates. These notably include Semantic Web technologies, intelligent agents, and the Internet of Things. In September 2014, RAND conducted an expert panel for the National Institute of Justice to discuss how the criminal justice community can take advantage of (and reduce the risks from) these emerging technologies. The top unifying theme from the panel was to leverage web technologies to improve information-sharing and protection across the criminal justice enterprise, and to address challenges that the new technologies raise. Another major theme was improving practitioners' knowledge of web technologies. Priorities included general education on key web technologies, and model policies and procedures for using them. A third theme was to improve the networking infrastructure needed to support web technologies (and other applications), especially for courts and corrections. Fourth, several needs became apparent related to leveraging wearable and embedded sensors (part of the Internet of Things), with an emphasis on using sensors to improve officer health and safety. Finally, panelists frequently noted the importance of civil rights, privacy rights, and cybersecurity protections in using the emerging technologies for criminal justice. While there were few needs about these topics specifically, panelists noted that more than half of the needs raised security, privacy, or civil rights concerns, or had implied requirements on these topics.

Key Findings

Information-Sharing Must Be Improved

  • There is a need to leverage web technologies to improve information-sharing and protection across the criminal justice enterprise.
  • In addition to leveraging web technologies for information-sharing in general, top priorities included developing a common criminal history record and cataloging scheme; developing real-time language translation capabilities; and developing displays or "dashboards" to meet officers' tailored, dynamic information needs.

Practitioners' Knowledge of New Web Technologies and Their Uses Must Improve

  • Priorities included general education on key web technologies, as well as the model policies and procedures for using them.
  • Panelists also called for procurement checklists and cost-benefit tools for systems acquisition, as well as for policies and procedures to address the anticipated rise of unmanned vehicles.

Infrastructure Must Be Improved

  • The networking infrastructure needs improvement to support web technologies (and other applications), especially for courts and corrections.

Criminal Justice Uses for Emerging Sensors Related to the Internet of Things Should Be Explored

  • Several needs were expressed related to leveraging wearable and embedded sensors (part of the Internet of Things), with an emphasis on using sensors to improve officer health and safety.

Civil Rights, Privacy Rights, and Cybersecurity Protections Must Be Addressed

  • Panelists frequently noted the importance of civil rights, privacy rights, and cybersecurity protections.
  • While few needs about these topics were specifically expressed, panelists noted that more than half of the needs discussed either raised concerns or had implied requirements regarding security, privacy, or civil rights.

Recommendations

  • Partner with the Standards Coordinating Council and constituent information-sharing development efforts to explore how semantic tagging and intelligent agents might be leveraged to expedite information-sharing, with criminal history data as a starting point. Experiment with real-time language technologies.
  • Focus education efforts on: semantic technologies that support finding, accessing, and translating key information; sensor systems for monitoring officer health, officer safety, and maintaining community supervision; video conferencing; and civil rights, privacy rights, and cybersecurity protections.
  • Designate a group to develop law enforcement requirements, policies, and procedures for interfacing with self-driving cars.
  • Develop field experiments with video teleconferencing links for inmate communications and remote education. Pursue novel business models and support to make Internet links more affordable in rural areas.
  • Experiment with health and safety sensor feeds, both wearable and embedded, and with Internet-connected sensor systems to support maintaining the location and tracking of offenders under community corrections supervision.
  • At a strategic level, seek to ensure that civil rights, privacy rights, and cybersecurity protections are built into technology developments, standards, policies, and procedures from the beginning. For intelligent agents that support decisionmaking, research how to ensure the quality of data used to make the decision, and how decisionmakers should use the agents' recommendations. Conduct research to advise on common attributes for policies, procedures, and required protective technologies for sensors related to the Internet of Things.

The research reported here was conducted in the RAND Safety and Justice Program, a part of RAND Justice, Infrastructure, and Environment.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation research report series. RAND reports present research findings and objective analysis that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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