Fighting crime with data
predictive policing projects aim to do the seemingly impossible: lower crime without putting more officers on the streets
Police departments around the world are harnessing data to predict and prevent crime. Last year, the police department in Oxford, Alabama, USA launched a project that officials believe could slash the local crime rate. The cost? Just US$12,000. The one-year pilot project makes use of predictive policing, employing data on previous crimes to predict what offenses are likely to happen -- both when and where. As police departments of different sizes and locations are tasked with reducing crime in the face of shrinking resources, predictive policing is seen by some as an effective strategy to fight crime without adding officers. Projects to implement computer models that forecast crime are popping up everywhere from sprawling metropolises like Los Angeles, USA to small boroughs like Trafford, England.