Can Technology Be Used to Predict Crime?

Can Technology Be Used to Predict Crime?
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Technology can do wonders. From connecting people from one part of the planet to another, to discovering what lies beyond the realms of this planet, technology has proven its might at every step. Now, with the advancements in Artificial Intelligence, we can even predict human behavior to a great extent and with a decent amount of accuracy.

At this point, the question that comes to mind is “Can we use technology to predict crime?”

Joshua Brustein from Bloomberg sites ex-Chicago cop Brett Goldstein who thinks we can. Here is his story:

There’s a story Brett Goldstein likes to tell. It starts on a Friday night in 2010 with him sitting in a darkened Crown Victoria on a Chicago Street, poring over maps.

Goldstein was a commander at the Chicago Police Department, in charge of a small unit using data analysis to predict where certain types of crimes were likely to occur at any time.

Earlier that day, his computer models forecast a heightened probability of violence on a particular South Side block. Now that he and his partner were there, Goldstein was doubting himself.

“It didn’t look like it should be a target for a shooting,” he recalled. “The houses looked great. Everything was well manicured. You expect, if you’re in this neighborhood, you’re looking for abandoned buildings, you’re looking for people selling dope. I saw none of that.”

Still, they staked it out. Goldstein’s wife had just given birth to their second child, and he was exhausted after a day in the office. He started to doze off. Goldstein’s partner argued that the data must be wrong. At 11 p.m., they left.

Several hours later, Goldstein woke up to the sound of his BlackBerry buzzing.

There had been a shooting-on the block where he’d been camped out.

“This sticks with me because we thought we shouldn’t be there, but the computer thought we should be there,” Goldstein said. He took it as vindication of his vision for the future of law enforcement. “I do believe in a policeman’s gut. But I also believe in augmenting his or her gut.”

Seven years after that evening, Goldstein threw on a gray suit and headed from his Manhattan hotel to New Jersey. Last spring he founded CivicScape, a technology company that sells crime-predicting software to police departments.

Nine cities, including four of the country’s 35 largest cities by population, are using or implementing the software, at an annual cost from $30,000 for cities with less than 100,000 people to $155,000 in cities with populations over 1 million. Goldstein was checking in on the two clients who were furthest along: the police departments in Camden and Linden.

If advances continue at the same pace, we could expect this technology to become far more efficient and accurate over time.

Megha Shah for TechFunnel.com


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Megha Shah
Megha Shah
A dreamer, traveler, aspiring entrepreneur and a bookworm beyond repair, Megha Shah is extremely fond of writing and has been doing so since she was a child. Apart from being a part-time writer, Megha is currently in college, pursuing B. Com. (Hons). Megha is an ardent follower of ‘Hardship, Hustle and Heart’ and firmly believes in the power of hard work and destiny!

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