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Australia Advancing AI for Community Safety

Image Credits: Monash University, Press Release
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A groundbreaking partnership between Monash University and the Australian Federal Police (AFP) resulted in a cutting-edge research centre known as the AI for Law Enforcement and Community Safety Lab (AiLECS). The lab harnesses artificial intelligence (AI) to drive technology-based initiatives that support law enforcement efforts and enhance safety within local and global communities, particularly in the digital realm.

The official launch of AiLECS marked a significant milestone in the realm of AI and law enforcement. The event was graced by AiLECS Co-Directors Associate Professor Campbell Wilson from Monash University and AFP Leading Senior Constable Dr. Janis Dalins, alongside Monash University Interim Vice-Chancellor and the AFP’s Deputy Commissioner.

The AiLECS Co-Director highlighted the transformative impact of emerging technologies on information accessibility and content creation. He underscored that the same technologies that offer tremendous potential for social good can also be misused, leading to a surge in cyber-attacks, identity theft, exploitation, and the proliferation of misinformation.

The research undertaken at AiLECS is at the forefront of leveraging machine learning, natural language processing, network analysis, and other AI techniques to empower law enforcement. Its scope encompasses countering child abuse material, detecting and classifying illegal firearms, identifying misinformation, and analysing expansive online criminal networks. An essential aspect of their work is the ethical sourcing of datasets to ensure that the AI systems they develop are not only effective but also responsible.

AiLECS originally emerged as a research lab in 2019 and has since initiated several projects aimed at bolstering community safety and providing support to law enforcement agencies. Monash University’s Interim President and Vice-Chancellor hailed AiLECS as a beacon of technological expertise leading the way in creating resilient and responsible initiatives. She stressed that these initiatives are pivotal in fostering safer and thriving communities worldwide.

In addition to the Monash University AI and technology scientists, the research centre boasts a diverse team that includes representatives from the AFP and seasoned experts with experience in law enforcement. Notable among them is Professor Jon Rouse APM, renowned for his pioneering work in countering child exploitation and his former leadership of the globally acclaimed ‘Taskforce Argos’ within the Queensland Police Service.

The Deputy Commissioner of the AFP emphasised the critical importance of this collaboration in combating tech-savvy criminals. These individuals increasingly leverage technology to facilitate illegal activities, which pose significant challenges to national security, social harmony, and economic stability. She pointed out that the partnership also aims to address pressing concerns related to privacy, AI, and machine learning to ensure that these technologies are deployed responsibly for the benefit of society.

The other Co-Director of AiLECS and a Leading Senior Constable in the AFP underscored the necessity for law enforcement agencies to actively engage with emerging technologies. He emphasised that through this partnership, AiLECS aims to merge cutting-edge research in AI and machine learning with the principles and expertise of law enforcement, becoming a leading voice for ethics and accountability in AI.

An example of AiLECS’s collaborative efforts is Project Metior Telum. In this project, Monash researchers, in collaboration with the AFP and an industry partner, have harnessed photogrammetry and 3D scanning technology to construct a comprehensive digital library of firearms.

This digital resource enables the rapid development of next-generation tools to detect and combat firearms trafficking. With Metior Telum, every element of the firearm library, from ownership records to specific models, can be meticulously traced.

The AFP, through the Commonwealth Confiscated Assets Account, has extended support to AiLECS Lab activities through a generous four-year funding program. Monash University has also made substantial contributions to this initiative, emphasising the importance of this collaboration in advancing technology and AI for the greater good of law enforcement and community safety.


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