Collection and analysis of Big Data are crucial to business and government in order to be sustainable and competitive in industry. With the easy accessibility of Big Data, we must ask ourselves how can we use it to its full potential? What limits should be placed on its use? And how can the law enforcement community take full advantage of it and simultaneously retain public support?
Crime analytics is the applied application of analytics by analysts to support crime prevention and investigations as well as intelligence-led policing. It is a prime example of how advanced analytics are about the application of methods and tools by people not just the tools alone. It is important to remember that one does not occur without the other. Moreover, that the role of the human in the analytic process is key to making informed assessments to decision-makers.
As criminals are becoming smarter and more creative using the Web, law enforcement agencies are in need of technology that allows them to stay a step ahead. With the amount of knowledge and insight Big Data can provide, public safety officials have an obligation to protect the wider community. Law enforcement organizations and the private sector working together can enable us all to prevent future crime, reduce costs and prosecute criminals.
This is not something new as crime analytics have been in use since the mid-90s. For example, at the Seattle Police Department, each morning’s schedule begins with review of Google Maps and computer algorithms to determine where officers should focus their attention. For now, predictive policing programs are solely focused on property crimes. This has included recordings of movements of vehicles that are stored for later investigations. Unlike most police departments, Seattle requires officers to vet each citation. For the public, the police department even created a Twitter account for residents to report crime in their neighborhood.
Seattle also has bought on a new software package, PredPol, for predictive policing. It looks at short and long-term patterns in property crimes and can forecast risk. It is in use by 11 other police agencies including those of the cities of Los Angeles and Santa Cruz, California.
On the east coast, the Durham (N.C.) police department’s analytical services group used analytics technology to help reduce the amount of violent crime in a two-square-mile region of the city by more than 50 percent during a four-year span (2007-2011).
In order to be successful using these technologies requires communication to the consumer and close oversight of security and privacy policies. If the public understands their information will be handled securely and that they will benefit then they are more likely to be comfortable with sharing personal details. Trust will take time to develop and proven success in how the data are managed towards the ultimate goal of a global community and secure network.