FGV launches new study center bringing together researchers and public security agents

FGV Analytics will apply artificial intelligence tools to support the formulation of public security policies in the state of Sao Paulo.
Public Policy
25 October 2023
FGV launches new study center bringing together researchers and public security agents

“The creation of a center for studies on security policies is excellent news for the academic community, governmental bodies and the people of Sao Paulo,” said Marco Antônio Zago, president of the Sao Paulo State Research Foundation (FAPESP), during FGV Analytics’ launch event, which took place on Monday, October 23 at Fundação Getulio Vargas’ Sao Paulo School of Business Administration (FGV EAESP).

FGV Analytics aims to accelerate the use of artificial intelligence tools to help formulate policies in the area of public security. FGV EAESP’s 20th research center emerged from a partnership between Fundação Getulio Vargas, FAPESP, the University of Sao Paulo and the Sao Paulo State Public Security Secretariat.

According to the president of FAPESP, one of the funders of this project, initiatives aimed at public security are numerous and necessary, but this particular initiative has special components that seek to mobilize the academic community to look at problems through the eyes of science, technology and innovation.

“Public security is not the sole responsibility of the state. It must be shared by society as a whole, including researchers. So, it makes total sense for this initiative to be supported by FAPESP. In addition, FGV Analytics is an excellent example of FAPESP’s new profile of commitment to public policies. Most of the projects the foundation supports are aimed at discovering new knowledge, but public policy projects go beyond advancing knowledge, as they seek to provide a solution to a problem in order to generate a positive impact on society,” said Zago.

Challenges and urgent issues

FGV Analytics researcher Roberto Speicys said that the use of technological tools can improve the efficiency of police forces and help tackle current challenges, such as “cracklands” – areas in which drugs are openly consumed.

“These areas, which are overrun by drug users, affect the safety of citizens, businesses and homes. One major difficulty in tackling and characterizing these areas is measuring how many people there are, as it is difficult to know the precise boundaries of these regions. This makes it challenging to assess the impact of public policies, since we cannot see how these actions affect reality in practice,” explained Speicys.

The researcher also said that through the studies to be carried out by FGV Analytics, it will be possible to collect this data using drones and use AI tools to identify individuals and objects in georeferenced images. Historical data can also be used to measure the effects of public policies in the area of security.

“Keeping a record of this data is fundamental in formulating these actions in cracklands. However, collecting this data periodically has a high cost. In this context, if we automate the collection of this data through technology, it becomes more feasible to collect information and guide the formulation of public policies based on it,” Speicys said.

International activities and training

The launch event was attended by officers from the Civil Police, Military Police and Scientific Police, representatives of the Sao Paulo State Public Security Secretariat, the Sao Paulo State Public Prosecutors’ Office and FAPESP, and researchers from FGV and the University of Sao Paulo.

The coordinator of FGV Analytics, João Luiz Becker, noted that the center is organized on the basis of the “Science for Development” public contest held by FAPESP, aimed at funding research that highlights the reality of the state and identifies possible solutions in a wide variety of areas.

“We want to stimulate the decision-making process for drawing up public policies with a focus on evidence. To this end, we are seeking participation and coordination with international players in order to become a world leader in the application of technologies in public security,” said the coordinator of the center, which currently has around 30 associate researchers. He added that the center will provide high-level training, as FAPESP and FGV have made several scholarships available to public security professionals and public policymakers.

Interaction between researchers and public security agents

According to FGV’s director of research and innovation, Goret Paulo, FGV Analytics is another example of an FGV research center that seeks to generate a positive impact on society through studies using rigorous research methods, developed based on questions defined jointly by public policymakers and researchers.

“We seek to structure networks of national and international researchers who make contributions to solving the challenges faced by society, in line with FGV’s mission, which is to contribute to Brazil’s socioeconomic development,” she said.

In the opinion of state prosecutor Fabio Bechara, the relationship between researchers and decision makers must not go wrong. “This relationship gives meaning to research, while reducing the chance of decision makers making mistakes,” he said.

The chief of staff of the Sao Paulo State Public Security Secretariat, Paulo Maculevicius, who represented the Sao Paulo state public security secretary, Guilherme Derrite, at the event, also highlighted interaction between public authorities and research institutions as a way of solving problems that afflict the population. “Through this interaction it is possible to detect problems, guide society and measure data showing what has already been done through evidence-based management, backed by data,” Maculevicius said.

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