How Big Data Can Be Used To Predict Crime Patterns

by Sohini Bagchi    Mar 14, 2016

big data

Police departments all over the world are turning to analytics to spot criminals and also prevent crimes. Recently, the Delhi Police said  it will soon start using space technology for live crime mapping and adopting a “predictive policing” mechanism being developed in partnership with the Indian Space Research Organisation. The system would help in crime control through analysis of relevant data and patterns.

“The Crime Mapping, Analytics and Predictive System (CMAPS) is being operationalised by Delhi Police in partnership with ISRO for effective use of space technology- based tools for ensuring internal security,” a senior police official said in a statement.

The authorities will use data on the time of crime, locations and nature of crime records which provide information to police strategists. On the basis of the data, the system devises the appropriate time and place for police patrolling. Thus it results in the maximum utilization of police resources which decreases the chances of crime. 

Predictive policing is practised in many cities of the United States with Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) being a prime example. Police departments of states like California, Washington, Soiuth Carolina, Arizona, Tennesse and Illinois. Several police departments of other countries have also deployed his system.

The present crime mapping process is conducted manually by gathering electronic data at an interval of 15 days. The reports are prepared by the Joint Commissioners and forwarded to Special Commissioner (Law and Order), who then briefs the police chief.

The police department in Delhi believes this system will greatly improve crime mapping which can help in the arrest of criminals. However, once predictive policing comes in place, police officials will be equipped with Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) devices connected to a central processor, which stores records of more than two lakh criminals. It will enable real time access to vital information at the crime scene itself so the officials do not have to go back to police stations for filing reports. It will be also capable of converting every distress call into a digital message with the location of the caller being flashed through global positioning system. The authorities can thus identify gangs in specific areas real time.

Cyber crime is a special area that is looked into as enterprises are now using big data technologies to detect and combat cyber threats. According to a recent report by Accenture and Ponemon Institute, “Embracing innovative solutions will keep increasingly sophisticated and stealthy cyber criminals from attacking your company.”

In other words, big data analytics and shared threat intelligence can increase the organization’s effectiveness in security measures. “The use of enabling and advanced technologies helps these companies take a proactive stance to protect their networks and data. Governance measures such as metrics, benchmarking, risk management procedures and ongoing communications with the C-suite and board of directors reflect the importance that the leapfrog organizations place on their security policies and programs,” said the report.

Data experts argue that if big data can be used to predict weather patterns, then why would it be surprising to forecast crime in the near future? As noted columnist and critic Mark Gibbs mentioned in his blog, “This is the world of predictive analytics; the scientific version of a crystal ball. Instead of peering into a glass globe you peer into (ideally) massive amounts of data and using Big Data mining techniques such as statistics, modeling, and machine learning you look for patterns that are indicative of current or future behavior.”