Predictive policing; the role of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data analysis in policing; surveillance studies; science and technology studies; mixed methods; ethnography of policing
United Kingdom, United States, and Germany
I am a sociologist and in August 2020 I joined the independent Research Group AIming Toward the Future: Governance, Policing, and Artificial Intelligence.
I am interested in the ways data-driven technologies such as predictive policing transform police practices from discretionary decision making and investigations, to organizational power dynamics and priorities, to the influence of underlying relations with software vendors.
In my project AI revolution in policing? An ethnography of digital technologies in law enforcement practice I look at the changes in knowledge creation that come with the increased digitization of police practices and concurrent changes in power relations both within police organizations and in interactions with those targeted by police. In what ways does data contribute to discretionary officer decision making, how does it inform police strategy, how do the priorities and possibilities of police investigations change given the ever-growing collection of data through sensor networks from CCTV to automatic number plate recognition? Predictive policing, the allocation of risk ratings to places and individuals, and more recently facial recognition have elicited a critical debate on the role and regulation of digital technologies in policing. This debate, its arguments and assumptions about the technology, and its influence on technology adoption will be subject of my research. Moreover, I seek to empirically contribute to it in studying the uses and misuses of these technologies that are set to redefine security for the coming years. I approach these questions mainly ethnographically but make use of a wide array of other, quantitative methods where appropriate.
This work builds on my doctoral research during which I conducted ethnographic fieldwork in a US police department and carried out extensive interviews in police forces and companies offering predictive policing solutions across the UK and in the US. My thesis addresses the practice of using individual risk scores in a UK police force and the interlocking data practices in a metropolitan police department in the US. This research was located within the Human Rights, Big Data and Technology Project at the University of Essex.
I completed my master’s degree at the University of Frankfurt. During my studies there I developed an interest in quantitative technologies of governmentality and the changes brought about by new forms of computational knowledge generation. The topic of data use in policing merges this interest with an attraction towards normative issues acquired during my bachelor’s studies at the University of Jena. Throughout my studies I have explored a variety of methods for social inquiry reflected in several teaching assistantships in statistics, social network analysis, and a general introduction to research methods.