Do you remember Tom Cruise movie, “The Minority Report”? The Police department was able to  prevent a crime before it was committed. Predictive Policing uses data analysis to predict and prevent crime. Big data has seen a tremendous growth in recent years and is used in healthcare, business, and now police departments are also using data analysis to work more efficiently when the allocated budgets are shrinking.

Predictive Policing is cost effective and the US being the first country to use Predictive Policing to control crime. Let us understand the concept of Predictive Policing.

 predictive policing

How Does Predictive Policing Works?

Predictive policing takes into consideration recorded crime data which includes location, time, and nature of past crime to predict areas where crime can occur and prevent it from happening.

The Santa Cruz Police Department (SCPD) was the first to use Predictive Policing to efficiently prevent crime using PredPol. PrePol uses various Algorithms to outline “hot spots” or locations where a crime is likely to take place in near future. The Police department uses this information to allocate Police Officers to patrol the given area. PredPol is being used in 60 Police departments which include that of Los Angeles, Chicago, and Atlanta. Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) alone has applied PredPol in its 14 divisions.The Police department was surprised to find  that there was a drop in burglaries by 11%, and robberies dropped by 27% in the first year of using the software. Similarly, The Los Angeles Police Department saw a 20% decrease in predicted crimes after putting the software into action in 2013.

Predictive Policing can be useful in halting thefts like theft of cars, burglaries, robberies while its prediction on crimes related to drugs may be inaccurate. Moreover, a study conducted by RAND corporations found no decline in crimes after deploying Predictive Policing software similar to PredPol in Shreveport,La.

The Police Department are paying over $150,000 per year for Predictive Policing software and training Police Officers to have a better knowledge of data-driven policing. Many fear that Predictive Policing can be biased and may raise legal and social issues. There is a concern that Police Officers may start monitoring people who have not committed any crime actually but are seen as potential threats.

This does not mean that the Police Department should reject data analysis approach to create a better and safer place for community to live but the Police Officers should use the technology to serve the community better by understanding the flaws of Predictive Policing and limiting its use.