Evidence Café 3: Using social technology and crowdsourcing to support community engagement with policing (Avon & Somerset Constabulary)

Wednesday, September 28, 2016 - 14:00 to 16:00

We begin with a brief discussion of Evidence-Based Practice, facilitated by Dr Mike Lucas. Dr Thea Herodotou then explains the concept of crowdsourcing to the attendees and ask them, as a whole group, to think of ways that crowdsourcing could be used (or is being used) with communities to help the police detect and prevent crime. 

After collecting suggestions, we present the nQuire platform. nQuire-it is a web-based platform (www.nquire-it.org) that enables people to create or join scientific projects (called “missions”) using their smartphones or tablets. Attendees then have the oportunity to explore the nQuire platform using tablets (provided) or personal mobile phones and suggest missions that would be relevant to the police. These can be based on the crowdsourcing ideas from the first part of the café, or they may be triggered by the affordances of the nQuire platform.


Suggested missions will be implemented on the platform within 3 weeks of the Evidence Café and published via the Centre for Policing Research and Learning Website. The café discussions will be written up and shared via the website.


Avon and Somerset Police HQ,
Valley Road,
BS20 8QJ

Example Mission:

  • Which areas of my town feel unsafe?

This example mission to identify areas that feel unsafe could crowdsource photographs of unsafe locations that include time of day and brief description of the characteristics that render it unsafe. An alleyway may feel unsafe at night due to poor lighting. This is something that could be communicated to the council with the mission data as evidence that more lights need to be put in. A street could feel unsafe at a particular time because of repeated suspicious behaviour.  The identification of suspect activity at a particular time could call for increased police presence at that time which could uncover criminal activities and help prevent or solve crime. 

Attendees can discuss potential uses of the crowdsourced information and how to link this up with their community policing initiatives. Using the above example, not all missions would necessarily generate evidence of use to the police – how could cross-agency collaboration be handled?