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Fighting the Crime Before it Happens
By Aditi Bhat
We have all heard of “aftershocks” of an earthquake. These aftershocks are the smaller tremors that spread to the neighboring regions of the epicenter after largest shock of the earthquake. Well, the same concept holds true for the epicenter of crime. It simply means that the risk of crime increases in the vicinity of the area a crime has already occurred in. So, predicting the possibility of crime and taking precautionary measures can help fight the crime before it occurs. Back in 2002, “Minority Report”, the Hollywood movie” laid the foundations of such a possibility of predicting and preventing crime but the idea was more of a science fiction than the reality. The LAPD (Los Angeles Police Department) turned to Big Data to power their initiative of fighting and preventing crime before it occurs.
Fighting and preventing crime before it occurs.
After the crime has occurred, predicting the patterns of criminal activities in neighboring areas using “aftershock” concepts.
Predicting the likelihood of the next crime is a lot more rewarding than investigating a crime already committed. Damage can be reduced to minimum or zero with accurate predictions of imminent crimes.
LAPD employed a mathematical model, used in predicting aftershocks of an earthquake, to further their “crime-prevention” initiative in the LA region. Developed by Assistant Professor George Moher, this mathematical model is proficient in defining patterns that can help in predicting aftershocks. Predicting an actual crime is very difficult but predicting the aftershocks of a crime is relatively easier. It is so because there is always an increased risk of a crime taking place in the vicinity of a bigger crime that has already occurred. This fact is proven and there is enough data to substantiate the fact in terms of historic data on crimes. Mostly, crime data shows similar patterns. So, LAPD fed the mathematical model with data for 13 million crimes committed over last 80 years. Based on this data, the model generated predictions (aftershocks) that matched with the actual crimes that had taken place in the vicinity of where the bigger crimes were committed. Using Big Data, the LAPD improved the prediction algorithm. Now they use the various data sets related to known crime hotspots to predict the likely places where crime can take place. The LAPD places officers in the predicted locations at the right time so that they can prevent the crime from happening.
- As an extended service of this LAPD counter-crime initiative, insurance frauds are also detected and curbed using the Big Data predictive analytics.
- Apart from preventing crime, this initiative is helping in understanding the “intent” and “source” of crimes. With this understanding, criminal psychology will be studied and predicted more accurately.
- The LAPD recorded a 33% reduction in burglaries, 21% reduction in violent crimes and 12% reduction in property crimes after using the predictive algorithms.
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