Criminals often challenge the authorities and justice system from a technological point of view. HENSOLDT supports civil law enforcement agencies in the fight against crime with innovative and integrated solutions. The aim: to detect crimes – ideally before they are committed.
Statistically, violent crime has declined since the start of the 21st century in Europe, Asia, and several non-European countries. However, the number of drug-related offenses is increasing all the time, with similar trends observed in the areas of cybercrime and white-collar crime in recent years. In these areas in particular, “the criminals of today” often use cutting-edge technology.
HENSOLDT supports civil law enforcement agencies with innovative and integrated solutions, enabling them to win the often technological competition. This support begins with airborne surveillance for patrols and law enforcement missions and extends through to assistance with police data analysis to detect and prevent offenses at an early stage, as well as the development of new solutions based on artificial intelligence (AI).
The ARGOS‑II Airborne Observation System is designed for installation on aircraft, helicopters, and drones. With the technology having been continuously upgraded since the late 1990s, there are now more than 800 ARGOS‑II systems in operation around the world in the fields of military, cross-border, and maritime observation. Their long-term maintenance is handled by a number of HENSOLDT service centers worldwide, including the Airborne Service Center in Oberkochen.
There are numerous applications in law enforcement. ARGOS‑II can track and clearly identify suspicious vehicles from the air – and is even able to read license plates from a great distance. It can localize stationary and moving people or any other ground targets. This is done automatically via an autotracker function to reduce the crew’s workload. And ARGOS‑II can even be used for the complete monitoring of predefined areas, whether by day or by night and even under challenging operating conditions.
The observational and target detection capabilities of ARGOS‑II are based on a wealth of different sensor and electronics technologies, all combined within a single device. From a high-definition (HD) thermal-imaging camera with continuous zoom through to unparalleled HD multi-spectral TV zoom and spotter cameras. Depending on the model, a short-wave infrared camera offers additional multi-spectral capabilities and enables images even in poor visibility. The Near Infrared (NIR) Laser Pointer and Laser Illuminator further enhance the operational effectiveness of the system. What’s more, ARGOS‑II can also be fitted with an eye-safe laser rangefinder.
All key information is displayed to users in real time on a screen. Advanced image processing functions, including picture-in-picture display, haze penetration, pseudo colors, and day/thermal image fusion, enable a better situation report and therefore a clearer idea of potential criminal activity in the area under observation.
At the end of 2021, HENSOLDT fitted two Thuringia State Police helicopters with ARGOS‑II, with the German Federal Police now also using the system on their helicopters.
State-of-the-art situation pictures through advanced image processing functions
HENSOLDT develops market-leading solutions for the collection and analysis of data from freely available sources such as TV, radio, print, the Internet, and social media. Consolidated under the name OSINT (Open-Source INTelligence), these solutions harness artificial intelligence to generate relevant information in next to no time – for instance, a comprehensive report on how (potential) events and developments are viewed among certain sections of the population or in certain geographic areas. Mastering more than 30 languages, this multilingual system makes use of all freely available information, with computer-generated notifications (bots) automatically detected and weeded out. Personal data is always protected and is not read. In military conflicts, OSINT capabilities are increasingly playing a decisive role for a superior situation report.
Modern investigations are also dependent on such technological progress, especially in times when criminals increasingly communicate openly via the Internet and social media and announce their plans in advance. OSINT technologies from HENSOLDT are currently used primarily for the early identification of threats and for strategic observation and information gathering as a decisive preliminary stage for the subsequent investigative and forensic activities. Key words can be used to a search for posts, topics, or places, generating a comprehensive overview. Analysts at the police and other authorities select which sources are to be evaluated. HENSOLDT supports them as a project partner.
In 2019, the project ROXANNE (Real Time Network, Text, and Speaker Analysis for Combating Organized Crime) was launched as part of the EU Horizon 2020 Framework programme, under the research and innovation campaign “Technologies to Enhance the Fight Against Crime and Terrorism.” At the heart of the project is the development of an interactive AI platform combining state-of-the-art text and speech recognition technologies and network analysis. The aim is to unmask national and international criminal networks and their members, thereby enabling investigators to identify suspects.
The consortium, financed by the EU, brings together eleven law enforcement agencies with fourteen industrial and scientific partners to cooperate on the future of crime fighting in the virtual realm. ROXANNE seeks to improve and accelerate police investigations, especially in relation to major cases. This ranges from enhanced identification of those involved using voice, text, and video analysis through to focusing criminal network analysis on key figures and the user-friendly visualization of the results of inquiries.
ROXANNE integrates key technologies within a single platform, such as:
A key aspect of the research project has been stringent compliance with the legal and ethical frameworks of the EU and INTERPOL. As such, the project drew on internal expert analysis as well as external ethics and advisory committees. Furthermore, the project focused research activities mainly on simulated data, with some anonymized real data for testing.
HENSOLDT played a major role in ROXANNE with its speech processing technologies as well as by managing the “Data Management” work package. To mark the successful completion of the three-year project, the consortium unveiled its results at a hybrid conference in Paris in November 2022. The next step is to incorporate the platform into the day-to-day work of law enforcement agencies.