AI is an important issue for the Gendarmerie Nationale, and is one of the pillars of its GEND 20.24 strategy, which aims to enable it to adapt to the technological environment in order to guarantee the safety of our fellow citizens. Our magazine n°9 is dedicated to the theme of security, especially within the Gendarmerie Nationale. On October 4th, during the annual convention of the European Chiefs of Police 2022, the experts of the PJGN AI center received the Excellence Award for the most innovative project for the creation of an AI tools platform.
At the end of 2019, Europol was mandated by the Justice and Home Affairs Ministers of all EU Member States to create an innovation lab to help the law enforcement community innovate. Its objective is to identify, promote and develop innovative concrete solutions supporting the operational work of EU Member States.
The Europol Excellence in Innovation Awards, awarded since last year, aim to highlight the most innovative initiatives and operations of the law enforcement community.
This year, more than 70 applications from law enforcement organizations from 14 European countries were received by Europol, two of which were selected: one for the most innovative law enforcement project and the other for the most innovative law enforcement operation.
The European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, police chiefs from France, the Czech Republic and Sweden and the Executive Director of Europol made up the jury.
The Excellence Award for the most innovative project
The Award of Excellence for the Most Innovative Project 2021 was won last year by the French National Police for “Avatar infiltrated Fortnite”, a tool to fight against online child abuse.
Through the creation of an online avatar in the video game Fortnite, 1,200 children were able to report sexual harassment within their families and seek help between April and May 2020. A team of 50 volunteers and psychologists connected to the game 24/7 was set up to assist these children, nearly 1/3 of whom were in a critical situation. Investigations were opened in a number of cases and the children were protected.
France has distinguished itself again this year thanks to the experts of the IA center of the Pôle d’Insertion de la Gendarmerie Nationale. Supported by the Pôle’s Director of Education and Research, Daniel Camara, the project leader and his team: Pierre Fichepoil, Meryem Guemini, Mohamed Belahcen, Edouard Ducloy, Pauline Rousseau, Allan Ghazali, Alexis Leduc, Mohand Kamache, Nasr Eddine Rachedi and Camille Bignet have developed a platform of AI tools.
This platform provides a suite of advanced criminal analysis tools specially developed to allow police officers to benefit from AI when processing criminal information. It includes a fingerprint analysis and matching tool, firearms and drug detection, speech-to-text transcription, feature extraction and machine translation tools in over 100 languages.
The tools were developed under EU Horizon 2020 projects and under the supervision of the French Gendarmerie’s data protection authority. The platform is currently available to 600 crime analysts across France and tools are made available to other law enforcement agencies in Europe via the Europol Innovation Lab Tool repository.
Award of excellence for the most innovative operation
The most innovative operation was awarded to the German Bundeskriminalamt (BKA) for the HYDRA operation. In April 2022, the BKA, in partnership with the United States and Europol, dismantled the world’s largest darknet market with more than 16 million users and an estimated annual turnover of more than 1.23 billion euros. Thanks to the BKA’s innovative approach, the entire criminal infrastructure was rendered unusable and led to the seizure of over 50 servers and 1.9 petabytes of data.
Innovation in international cooperation
The Europol Excellence Awards for Innovation underline how effective modern law enforcement requires partnership and collaboration, whether within teams of officers, between forces, in multi-agency operations or through wider public sector involvement. They should inspire the European law enforcement community by giving them a glimpse of successful innovation.
Europol’s Head of Innovation Lab, Gregory Mounier, concludes:
“Innovation is at the heart of modern policing, and Europol strives to ensure that the European law enforcement community benefits from the most innovative technologies and tools to keep European citizens safe. The exceptional quality of the 70 projects and operations nominated this year is not only a success for the Europol Innovation Excellence Awards, but also a testament to the incredible spirit of innovation and creativity that drives our law enforcement colleagues across Europe. The Europol Innovation Lab will invite the most promising candidates to participate in follow-up events, with the aim of sharing innovative ideas with the entire European law enforcement community.”