From football to climate activists, from the use of artificial intelligence, the problems of facial recognition to the effects of the cannabis release: the 26th European Police Congress had a wide range of topics on the agenda. This year, around the large hub27 exhibition hall in Berlin, there was an outdoor area where large equipment was on display and police climbers demonstrated their skills. In terms of information technology, the “Police 2020” project, now called P20, was able to look forward to a new addition. “Twenty” is the name of the messenger based on the matrix protocol, which networks the authorities and organizations with security tasks (BOS) in their work on site. The system could already be in use for the 2024 European Football Championship.
Let’s take a quick look back: For the 2006 World Cup, the authorities with security tasks (police, emergency services, fire brigade) were supposed to start using digital blue light radio. The police congress at the time was completely under the spell of this major event. The BOS-Funk was considerably delayed, but it is now so present that an independent side event has been highlighting radio technology for years.
This year the focus was on mobile broadband communication. At the event, Rainer Wendt from the German Police Union declared police radio to be “worthless” and demanded broadband frequencies from politicians for the distribution of images, sound and video.
The radio system could be strengthened in other ways for the upcoming European Football Championship. Patrick Alberts from Element Software, Oskar Neda from the Innovation Hub of the Lower Saxony police force and Matrix consultant Hato Nordeck presented “Twenty”, a demo of a BOS messenger. A large matrix system is already in use by the German Armed Forces, and the installation of the open source software is called “TI Messenger” by the medical profession.
As Alberts explained, each federal state should operate a federated matrix server in the police network, which is connected to the servers of the fire and rescue services or the THW. Whatever features are developed for “Twenty” in the federal states should be available to all police forces. Second messengers running in parallel are to be connected via “bridging functions”, for example Stashcat from the Federal Agency for Technical Relief.
If the “Twenty” messenger is used by women or men (there is an Android and an iOS version), different rules apply to the ten soccer stadiums of the European Championship. A special organizational structure (BAO) of the security authorities is currently preparing the situation reports for the EM 2024, divided into a “reconnaissance” working group and a “room security” department. As Mareike Kotrtmann from the geoinformation specialist Esri explained, each stadium and its surroundings should have a “digital twin” so that the planners can work with great precision. Together with the Atos subsidiary Eviden, they want to support the police in the European Football Championship.
Palantir presents, the NSO Group does not
In addition to the discussion about the role of “artificial intelligence” in police work, there were many presentations by exhibiting companies that emphasized the increasing trade fair character of the police congress. Christoph Markson from the exhibitor Palantir Technologies gave a curious presentation. He philosophized about good software design that supports the work of (police) experts. There were no screenshots of the super software that supports Ukraine in the war.
This is probably due to the fact that the Federal Constitutional Court has objected to the way the Palantir software HessenData works, and the Bavarian variant Vera is also under scrutiny. The NSO Group, manufacturer of the spyware Pegasus, which was represented as an exhibitor for the first time, gave no presentation and no information at all.
On the political side, Berlin’s interior senator Iris Spranger (SPD), the current chairwoman of the German conference of interior ministers, received great applause when she described the past-generation glue-ups as simply taking hostages. Spranger explained that numerous ambulances got stuck in traffic jams and that the Berlin police have accumulated 350,000 operating hours due to the traffic blockades. You have to check very carefully whether the activists are getting money from abroad. Fines of 2000 euros and more do not seem to bother them, that is suspicious. The extension of custody to five days announced in the coalition agreement should be implemented as soon as possible.
At the beginning of the police congress, Rita Schwarzelühr-Sutter, Parliamentary State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of the Interior, spoke about the problem of sexualized violence against children, which has increased by eight percent in Germany. The EU Commission’s proposal to control contact with children, also known as “chat control”, faces the problem of the confidentiality of communications. “Even if we don’t agree, we are still pursuing a common goal.”