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Digital Innovation and Public Protection Data: A Letter from our Founder and MD

9th January 2019 RIAMS

2019 will be another year of big headlines about technology advances and increasingly, these get a little bit closer to our day to day lives. Advances in driverless vehicles, wearable tech and smarter AI are among the most popular predictions for 2019, but how will public protection fare in 2019?

Anyone who works in public protection will know that unless something goes terribly wrong and the powers that be need us to be there, we are not going to be making the headlines. However, while the leading edge of technology is pushing the boundaries and getting mainstream attention, RHE Global is a specialist SME, investing and pioneering the introduction of new technology in the public protection space. In charting our progress, we take pride in developing software with the positive ethic of helping people and making their lives better.

According to our clients, The Noise App (www.thenoiseapp.com) has literally saved the lives of vulnerable people subjected to abusive situations which had previously been difficult to prove. Successful legal actions for noise and antisocial behaviour using the Noise App in the evidence chain has vindicated RHE’s investment in smartphone technologies. The number of successful legal cases resolved with evidence from The Noise App now runs into hundreds of cases from the Magistrates Court up to the High Courts.

The importance of data
A significant spin-off from The Noise App is the wealth of data gathered from the public. Much of this data is not personal data and once anonymised, can be used (ethically) to gain better intelligence about noise incidents and their impact. The widespread adoption of The Noise App by environmental health professionals and housing associations has created a centralised noise incident dataset of coming up to half a million reports and lots of metadata, most of which has never previously existed. We hope this data will assist future researchers, policymakers and professionals analysing and investigating noise complaints.

Better data to support policy making
In the UK, government and researchers have previously had to rely on retrospective annual reporting from local authorities about how many noise complaints were received. However, response rates were poor with sometimes as few as 35% of investigating authorities providing data. Since 2017 no data has been collected.

Since 2015, housing associations and the police et al, have been tasked with investigating noise complaints. The Noise App followed this development and is now widely used by housing associations and police services. This has led to the discovery that a very significant number of noise complaints are handled by housing associations (as antisocial behaviour) and most likely, never made it onto local authority statistics as used by Defra and Public Health England. As a consequence, it is likely that The Noise App datasets are a far deeper resource than any other available to inform noise policymaking.

Better data to help professionals and public
RHE is now partnering with universities and funding a PhD research programme to analyse the data collected by The Noise App and to develop smart technology to assist the public and professionals investigating noise problems. Our research programme will be proposing how data analytics and AI can be used to identify noises and the impact it is having upon the noise sufferer.

If you like to find out more about our research and proposed technology work, please get in touch with us.

Robert Halford
Founder and Managing Director of RHE