Data-driven policing

helps predict when, where crimes will occur

Retailers have mastered the art of predicting what their customers are likely to buy. Now police departments across the country are using their own predictive strategies such as algorithms, time/space analysis, and social network analysis to become "data detectives" in an effort to stop crime before it starts, according a new report from the Johns Hopkins University Center for Advanced Governmental Studies.

The report, "Predictive Policing: Preventing Crime with Data and Analytics," was written by Jennifer Bachner, program coordinator and lecturer in the Center for Advanced Governmental Studies.

"Law enforcement agencies are on the frontier of the data revolution," Bachner said. "Predictive policing is a part of intelligence-led, proactive policing that is focused on what is likely to occur rather than what has already happened."


Bachner studied three early adopters of what is known as predictive policing. They include police departments in Baltimore County, Md., Richmond, Va., and Santa Cruz, Calif. Santa Cruz officials credit the predictive police work for the department's 27 percent drop in burglaries from 2010 to 2011.

Law enforcement agencies have been collecting and crunching statistics for years, using it to map and track criminal activity. What's different about predictive policing, Bachner said, is police are using data analysis to prevent crime from happening at all.




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