Can We Accurately Predict Crime Before It Happens?

While perusing the Smithsonian blog earlier this week, I stumbled upon an interesting article that I thought was worth sharing, in particular because the topic has huge implications for our nation’s police force.

The subject of the post was “predictive policing,” essentially the idea that mountains of data and complex algorithms can be used to predict a crime before it actually happens.

The LAPD has been using a computer program along these lines for the past six months to provide insight and guidance on crime in one of the city’s many precincts. Over that period of time, there has been a 25 percent drop in reported burglaries in the area. As a result, the LAPD has decided to expand the program and increase the number of precincts being handled by the software from one to six.

It’s pretty hard to wrap your mind around the concept of being able to accurately predict crime. There are just so many intangibles! But considering the vast amounts of relevant data this type of software is able to crunch, ranging from years worth of detailed crime data to science on the psychological workings of the criminal mind, it’s easy to see how valuable it could potentially be to police departments around the country.

The ultimate objective of the software is to allow officers to shift their focus from solving already committed crimes to crime prevention, something we can all get behind.

While it’s hardly a proven method, it is promising nonetheless!

Read more: “Can Computers Predict Crimes?”

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