Innovative software has been credited in dramatically reducing crime in the city.
The Memphis Police Department took a chance with a new technology 6 years ago as a way to cut down on future law-breaking. Amid an escalating crime rate, they began using a special software that would determine potential locations where crimes would likely take place.
Since the software’s implementation, the police department has effectively reduced crime by 31%, including a 15.4% reduction in violent crimes. Now other police departments are looking to follow suit. The older less-efficient technique would have crime analysts manually browse through databases and spreadsheets to decipher crime patterns. The software can spit out the frequencies of potential crime scenes with specific details like location and time. In the month of January 2010 alone, police arrested over 50 local drug dealers with help from the crime-forecasting software.
“By putting the crime data on the map, we could concentrate on focus areas,” Williams (John F. Williams, crime analysis unit manager with the MPD) said. “The software spits out frequencies and cross tabs. We could see the base, the time of day, day of the week and the types of crimes, and we were able to deploy resources at the exact time the crimes were occurring. It blew our minds how accurate things were.”
With predictive analytics, the MPD can evaluate incident patterns throughout the city and forecast criminal hot spots. The data allows the department to allocate resources to target areas and develop deployment strategies, including directed patrol, targeted traffic enforcement, task forces, operations, high-visibility patrol and targeted investigations.
…But, Williams added, the success of the predictive tool really comes down to diligent records management. To keep the crime data as close to real time as possible, crime analysts run data from the past 24 hours, the past 48 hours and the past 28 days consistently. That way, the colonel at each precinct can make mid-stream changes to the operations if necessary.