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Police launch new emergent technology policy

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New Zealand Police has released a specific policy around the use of emergent technology.

The policy provides guidance for staff who are given opportunities to use or test new technology, and outlines the steps required to be taken before new technology can be trialled or introduced.

It also applies in situations where extra functionality is being added to an existing technology.

“The policy released today acknowledges that emergent technologies can have an important part to play in modern policing, and it supports staff to innovate in their work,” says Police Commissioner Andrew Coster.

“It also recognises that the use of emergent technologies can have privacy, security and ethical implications, which must be carefully weighed before such technologies are trialled or introduced.”

The policy applies to all police staff, as well as contractors who are providing services to police.

‘Emergent technologies’ is an umbrella term covering both ‘new tech’ capabilities such as customer support apps, through to more established technologies which allow for images to be captured, such as CCTV. It also encompasses the use of tools such as algorithms and artificial intelligence.

Alongside the introduction of the emergent technology policy, NZ Police last week signed up to the Algorithm Charter for Aotearoa New Zealand.

Launched in July 2020, the Charter outlines standards for the use of algorithms by public agencies.

“Like other emergent technologies, algorithms can play an important role in enabling the work of agencies, however New Zealanders need to have trust and confidence they are being used safely and responsibly,” says Andrew.

To support the new policy and its commitments under the Charter, NZ Police intends to assemble a panel of experts who can externally peer review the use of emergent technologies, including algorithms that support decision-making by Police staff.

Independent peer review can help provide reassurance that privacy, ethics and human rights considerations have been taken into account.

The emergent technologies policy and signed copy of the Algorithm Charter are both available on the NZ Police website.

More information about the Algorithm Charter is available at data.govt.nz.

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