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Pieter Tops: data science and artificial intelligence important to combat undermining

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Data Science and Artificial Intelligence can be of great relevance in combating organized crime and subversion. That relevance extends both to behavioral change of officials and to the institutional organization of the investigative function. That is why intensive cooperation between government and society is a requirement, says Professor Pieter Tops says in his inaugural address on June 8. He shows, for example, that in the port of Rotterdam the transhipment of containers can be controlled in a completely smart way, which greatly reduces the risk of crime.

Organized crime has now become more extensive, more digital, more violent, more corrupt, more social, more profitable and more transnational than before, Tops argues. This new form thus has an impact on undermining the functioning of society. The consequence is that in the approach to subversion (social) prevention on the one hand and enforcement and detection on the other hand should be a twofold entity.

The whole system for the responsible embedding of AI in society has yet to be developed, and the same applies to tackling organized crime. For example, the police were able to access the contents of crypto phones used by criminals, but processing the large amount of data resulting from this is a problem.

Combat development slow

The question is whether data science developments in the field of combating organized crime are not moving too slowly. The criminal system is known to have a high degree of adaptability. Shouldn’t real-time analytical capabilities be strongly developed? The dynamics in the criminal world are so powerful that actually no single organization or sector can keep up with them on its own. Therefore intensive cooperation with governments, civil society organizations and citizens is a prerequisite.

Prof. Dr. Pieter Tops (1956) is a data analytics scientist. He studied political science, with an emphasis on public administration, at the Catholic University of Nijmegen, where he graduated cum laude in 1984. In 1990 he obtained his doctorate at Leiden University. Tops became professor of public administration, in particular local government, at the Catholic University of Brabant in 1994. From 2006 to 2013 he was a member of the Executive Board of the Police Academy, where he was primarily responsible for shaping a research and knowledge function. His focus gradually shifted to the issues of organized crime and subversion in the Netherlands, on which he wrote with Volkskrant journalist Jan Tromp, among others, “The Back of the Netherlands” (2017) and “Netherlands Drug Land” (2020). Meanwhile, Tops is affiliated with Leiden University as an endowed professor of Subversion Studies and Data Science at Jheronimus Academy of Data Science (JADS).

Note for the press
Prof. Dr. Pieter Tops will deliver his speech on 8 June at 16.15 in JADS, Den Bosch with Livestream.  The speech is titled: Undermining and Data Science, what is that about? For more information please contact Els Oostveen at JADS.  +31 40 247 8103 and

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