There is no proverbial silver bullet to creating a safer city, but analytics technology is assisting law enforcement agencies all over the world to sort through information – part of the 2.5 quintillion bytes of data we create and consume every day – to get ahead of crime. Having access to all that information is an invaluable resource for law enforcement agencies, but it can also be pretty paralyzing. After all, only a fraction of the bits and bytes can actually be relevant, right? But how do you know and, more importantly, how do you find and act on it?
I’m not going to tell you that technology will stop all crime, but I will say that it is helping law enforcement agencies make sense of these mountains of data. And it helps to derive real insight in a real-time or near real-time way to prevent crime – this is the power of predictive analytics.
I should be clear: this isn’t some science fiction work where technology is analyzing the human psyche. Instead, it is technology helping and reinforcing traditional police work, to speed the process and act as a force multiplier. It’s all about analyzing past events, recognizing trends and patterns, and rooting out commonalities and correlations that were once the preserve of officers with years of experience and instinct. All technology is doing is making things work faster and quickly bubbling up connections that would have taken days, weeks or months before.
This represents an interesting addition to policing practice. Departments constantly look for ways to better react and respond. Today, with the help of technology, law enforcement agencies also have a much better understanding of what patterns of crime are likely to happen and where, and are much more capable of deploying resources to head off those same crimes before they ever happen.
Think about that for a second. The old adage used to be that officers would park in a high-crime area with their windows down and listen for gun shots. Today, police park their car where the gun shots will likely occur. And then, perhaps – no gun shots?
The job is still about catching bad guys. But today, it’s also about stopping them before they commit a crime – to make our cities a little bit smarter and that much safer.
Join Mark April 5 on the People for a Smarter Planet Facebook page where he’ll be discussing Smarter Public Safety from 9:00 AM EST- 1:00 PM EST.