How do you use technology/policy to improve citizens’ lives? Tell us about your role or organisation.

The INTERPOL Innovation Centre connects police in 194 countries around the world to complement their national innovation efforts. The centre is made up of four labs operating under a two-pronged approach of ‘strategic innovation’ and ‘applied innovation’.

They experiment and test policing technologies, strategies, concepts and tools with a view to guiding global discussions, moderating international cross-sector collaboration, and developing both incremental and ground-breaking security solutions. One of our key outcomes is the INTERPOL Police Innovation and Technology Radar. It provides an overview of new emerging technologies encompassing various examples of how technology can be harnessed to benefit the global law enforcement community.

If you were to share one piece of advice that you learned in 2018, what would it be?

INTERPOL holds an annual event called ‘STRATalks’ which provides a forum to challenge the status quo of law enforcement and generate innovative ideas. With the theme of ‘Thinking Globally, Acting Locally’, this year’s STRATalks focused on how law enforcement and INTERPOL can be better positioned for the years 2030 and 2040.

One conclusion was clear: without progressive and innovative responses to new and emerging crime trends, there is a risk that some law enforcement functions will become obsolete. Personally, this discussion really resonated with me and reminded me of the founder of modern management, Peter Drucker, who said we must “innovate or die”.

I think any organisation should keep this in mind in the digital age, as every day brings news about technological breakthroughs which will shape the future.

What has been the most exciting thing that you worked on in 2018?

This year, we were very excited to introduce a few new initiatives, reflecting the rapidly evolving security landscape fueled by technology advancement. For instance, we were able to establish some relevant global platforms bringing together law enforcement experts with representatives from the business and academic worlds.

One example is the INTERPOL Working Group on DarkNet and Cryptocurrencies. Participants met twice this year and identified, for example, the challenges law enforcement are facing with altcoins. We also organised the first INTERPOL Drone Expert Forum, which brought together nearly 100 experts from law enforcement, academia and private industry to demonstrate how drones can at the same time be a threat, particularly for critical infrastructure, a tool and source of evidence for police worldwide.

And what about our global meeting, co-hosted with the United Nations organisation UNICRI, about Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, or a Thinkathon on how criminal investigations will look like in a smart city, or gathering Chief Innovation Officers from law enforcement worldwide together.

As the Innovation Centre, we see ourselves as a global connecter, facilitating information exchange and linking professionals together. It was fantastic to see that we are able to be a global driver in this respect. In that way, the true highlight was when our INTERPOL General Assembly Session in November focused its discussions on why innovation is needed in policing. We were able to share our message with more than 1,000 Chiefs of Police, Ministers and government representatives that we have to innovate or we cannot hope to survive.

What tool or technique particularly interests you for 2019?

One of the outcomes to mitigate the risks faced by law enforcement identified during the STRATalks 2018 was a draft plan for INTERPOL to carry out a Global Horizon Scan for Future Law Enforcement. Through this scan, weak signals of possible change that have the potential to disrupt our current law enforcement systems can be identified and shared with our 194 member countries.

Luckily, we were able to identify an effective foresight tool that we would like to utilise to conduct this horizon scan in 2019 for the global law enforcement community for a safer world of tomorrow.

What are your priorities for 2019?

There are many! The INTERPOL Innovation Centre was only created about a year ago, so it is still a very small team, although one with loads of ambition. One of the focus areas is still empowering all our four labs and seeking substantial funding for continuing our important work.

The third INTERPOL World, which will take place from 2-4 July 2019 in Singapore, is one of our key events, lifting our relationship with private and academic sector to the next level of co-creation. More than 30 collaborative discussions will be organised during the event and we expect many participants from all over the world.

At the same time, we have to continue to foster innovation in the law enforcement agencies in our 194 member countries through expert group meetings and working groups as well as our analytical reports.

What is one skill that has helped you the most throughout the course of your career?

Networking. As I believe in human connections (perhaps more than technology), I always enjoy meeting new people and exchanging ideas with them. Due to the nature of my work, in my 36 years working in law enforcement I have been able to meet countless professionals from all over the world with various backgrounds and experiences. These people have taught me a lot and opened my eyes.

In the end, innovation is closely related to human development as it aims to improve things for society. Just looking at the technology might not bring the most suitable solutions. In this sense, my network, colleagues and friends have been the best assets in my career.

What advancements do you predict will happen in your field in the next ten years?

In future smart cities, cameras might not belong to the public or law enforcement. Private companies will possess an extreme amount of data through cameras and the Internet of Things, or IoT. Therefore, for law enforcement, their relationship with private sector becomes more important than ever.

Another concern is that, in 10 years, some police functions might be replaced by machines and artificial intelligence. I am afraid that the reduction of human interactions between police and citizens could lead to a negative image of police officers, as the public might only encounter them following severe incidents or crimes in which machines cannot process or take control. If we don’t prepare now to adjust ourselves and stay relevant, the police role will be changing fundamentally.

Coffee, yoga, music… what powers you through your day?

Working with inspiring people around me and achieving results at the end of the day.