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Detect the Unexpected: A Science for Surveillance

NCJ Number
Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management Volume: 31 Issue: 3 Dated: 2008 Pages: 395-414
K.C. Scott-Brown; P.D.J. Cronin
Date Published
20 pages
This paper outlines a strategy for research development focused on addressing the role of visual perception in real life tasks such as policing surveillance and command and control settings.
Control-room operations place a huge demand on the human visual system. Individuals have an overarching feeling of visual completeness. However, this can lead to an overestimation of one’s visual abilities. A scientific program is outlined for how detection deficits can best be addressed in the context of a multidisciplinary collaborative agenda between researchers and practitioners. The development of a cognitive research field specifically examining the occurrence of perceptual “failures” provides an opportunity for policing agencies to relate laboratory findings in psychology to their own fields of day-to-day enquiry. With examples, this paper shows where interdisciplinary research may best be focused on evaluating practical solutions and on generating useable guidelines on procedure and practice. The scale of surveillance task in the modern control room is expanding as technology increases input capacity at an accelerating rate. The authors review recent literature highlighting the difficulties that apply to modern surveillance and provide examples of how poor detection of the unexpected can be, and the potential deficit. This paper argues that the development of a scalable approach to volume surveillance can be achieved via an analytic approach to the transfer of information from first responder to an incident to the overall strategic and tactical command. Notes, references