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Crowdsourcing for National Security and Law Enforcement.

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Jennifer YANG HUI

Crowdsourcing for National Security. 17/03/2015






Crowdsourcing is useful for national security and law enforcement operations for two main purposes: sourcing for intelligence and finding innovative solutions to security challenges.

In the United States, one example of crowdsourcing for law enforcement was the establishment of the Texas Virtual Border Watch for the defence of the U.S.-Mexico border. This comprised of placing a series of governmental web-based surveillance cameras at the border. Any users with internet connection may watch the surveillance videos and report any criminal activities such as drug smuggling and illegal immigration through the system.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security also established the Neighbourhood Network Watch programme that aimed to collect data on online criminal behaviour by encouraging its citizens and organisations to report suspicious online activities.

The British government is also one of the pioneers in crowdsourcing for national security. One interesting project was undertaken in 2011 by the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) the British intelligence organization, which launched a crowdsourcing challenge on with the aim of recruiting signal intelligence officers who possess the aptitude for cracking codes.

The website was interactive, allowing for two-way communication. The operation used Facebook to advertise the effort. Participants were required to solve a code of 160 letters and numbers arranged in a rectangular display. Once solved, the participants would receive a keyword that led to another website, which would allow them to apply for a position in the GCHQ.