Knowing where a criminal will strike next is a vital tool to any law enforcement agency. Police in Los Angeles have been testing software that can predict where burglaries are most likely to happen. Built by Predpol, a start-up copmany based in Santa Cruz, California, the software uses time and location data from previous reports and mixes it with sociological studies of criminal behavior that show that criminals like to hit the same areas more than once. Seeing a cop car tends to deter future crimes.
The system produces detailed maps that show suggested areas at risk of potential attack. The maps are built with algorithms that use crimes patterns over a long period of time. Red boxes overlaid onto the map suggest specific areas of potential crime. Police on patrol use these maps to determine their routes. According to PredPro this has reduced robberies in the area tested by 25 percent. While this is hard to prove, it does get police officers to go to areas that may have otherwise been overlooked and make their presence known. Six Los Angeles areas are testing the software, and its use is being expanded to other areas of the city.
via Technology Review Credit: Digital Vision / Getty Images