California police experiments with predictive policing

Posted on Aug 22 2011 - 6:00pm by Julius

The Santa Cruz Police Department in California, USA has implemented a predictive policing project, which began on 1st July and will end after six months, to help police officers predict certain crime types before it happens.

The authorities will be using a complicated math equation, similar to the algorithm used for predicting earthquake aftershocks. Through the model, police officers will patrol areas that has minimal police presence with the goal of stopping crime.

“There’s a belief that certain crime types — in this case, burglaries and vehicle thefts — can be predicted in the same way,” said Santa Cruz Police Department’s press information officer and principal management analyst Zach Friend.

The said algorithm was developed by a man named George Mohler, an assistant professor in the Mathematics and Computer Science Department at Santa Clara University. The Santa Cruz Police Department approached Mohler after reading his work in the LA Times.

The authorities worked with Mohler for six months to develop the project for implementation. For the six-month pilot, the Santa Cruz Police Department will pull crime data every day from its database that tracks reported crimes in the city. The data is then put into a spreadsheet and coded and then run through the web-based algorithm by Mohler.

Crime prediction is still a new field, but it is not only used by the Santa Cruz Police Department. The program is re-calibrated with new reports every day and information from eight years of crime data. It gives police officers a list of the top 10 areas where crimes occur in a day. According to a police officer involved with the program, crime prediction may one day be like weather forecasting.

Is the film Minority report going to become a reality?



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