Predictive policing: the brave new age of law enforcement analytics

As the power of analytics grows with increasing computing power and larger amounts and varieties of data, techniques previously relegated to academic social science researchers are now available to law enforcement professionals in the form of powerful software suites. From an analytics perspective, this means moving from static and structured ‘reports’ – traditional descriptive Business Intelligence – to predictive, prescriptive, and semantic analytics methods.

SCTR7: Data Science and Analytics

In the mid-1980’s I worked as an information analyst / data manager in a police station in a small town in New England (northeast U.S.).  It was a strange but exciting experience for a young man, chosen simply as I was identified as the local ‘computer geek’ at the town high school (a small and quite unenviable club – computer nerds were decidedly not ‘hip’ circa 1985).

Predictive policing Predictive policing

At the cusp of the age of personal computing and before the internet became widely available (access was via dial-up), the tools were primitive and simplistic. Still, by ritualizing the collection, storage, and retrieval of data, our little station began to change its approach to policing.

Working with the Police Chief, a wonderfully avuncular lawman, by turns jovial and admonishing, and a group of hardened, street wise detectives (one was on an undercover case and looked decidedly shifty in a Serpico way, with stubble, a tan, wide-lapelled patent…

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