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Big Data & LAPD: Predicting Crime before It Happens

Big Data & LAPD: Predicting Crime before It Happens

01/14/2014 10:25 am1 comment

We are all aware that explosion in data (Big Data) gives us the ability to do a lot of different things. The potential things to do with Big Data are fantastic. Given the fact, the dynamic nature of data is fast changing the way we live our lives. When I was watching BBC’s video (placed below) titled The Age of Big Data, I was moved by the way police in Los Angeles is trying to predict crime even before it actually happens.

Big Data and LAPD

The initial segment of the video details a pilot project undertaken by the Los Angeles Police Department in collaboration with the University of California. The Foothill Division of the LAPD has been using a trial algorithm to predict crime that is about to occur in the division.

According to experts, in the last few years the world has seen more data than in all of human history, and with the same progress this avalanche of data is surely heading in the direction of becoming the greatest sources of power of this century. Thriving on this advantage of big data, officers in the LAPD are using predictive policing software dubbed the PredPol, which relies on the collection and analysis of Big Data to allow them to anticipate where crimes are likely to happen, well before they happen.

The PredPol basically works by collecting and analyzing crime data and then running it through an algorithm to generate maps. The maps inform (with bright red squares drawn on them) the police officers about where crime might take place. Police spends more time patrolling identified areas with crime risk and as presumed, prevent the crime from happening.

According to LAPD, predictive policing has assisted the department in reducing the crime rate in the Foothill Division station area.

The predictive policing software, which employs mathematics to study crime was started in University of California, Los Angeles some seven years back. UCLA mathematician and one of the postdocs on the predictive policing software project, George Mohler, has introduced an equation, which has transformed the work process. According to Mohler, mathematically speaking earthquakes and crime work in a similar way. So, if earthquake aftershocks can be predicted with mathematical model, after-crimes can also be predicted too. This Mohler concept works on the model that one crime sets tone for another crime in the area, so understanding the first the after crimes can be prevented.

Predictive policing software and Mohler’s equation can predict crimes such as robbery, car stealing etc., it can predict the areas but not who will commit the crime.

Hit the jump to see BBC’s video ‘The Age of Big Data’ to know about people mining the avalanche of big data.

A tech blogger having more than 5 years of hands-on work experience, Bharat loves to write on latest tech advancements, software, ERPs & BI. Bharat lives in Shimla, India.

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