Applying technology to policing is nothing new, and for some time technologists have been attempting to create computer programs to help police predict and interdict crime. And now, as far as some District Commanders for the Chicago Police are concerned, such predictive software is an important new weapon in the fight against crime.
According to advance reports from Chicago’s 7th District, a predictive algorithm helped the District reduce shootings 39 percent over last year and reduced murders by 33 percent so far this year, according to endgadget.com.
“The community is starting to see real change in regards to violence,” 7th District commander Kenneth Johnson told Reuters.
Still, while the city’s 7th District experienced dramatic results, other districts saw a more modest crime reduction of between 15 and 29 percent in shootings with a 9 to 18 percent reduction in murders.
The software helps police determine when and where to deploy larger forces of officers on the streets to head off criminal activity.
Among other factors, the HunchLab software computes weather data, past crime statistics, economic and social data, and locations of businesses to predict when and where crime might kick into high gear.
The results are interesting considering that, as a whole, the Windy City has already surpassed last year’s benchmarks to become the bloodiest year in the city’s history as gangs and drug dealers gun each other down in large numbers.
Supporters of the predictive programs are quick to warn that the software is not a cure for crime as it doesn’t help solve the underlying social problems that might drive criminal activity. But reducing crime is nothing to dismiss as part of the solution to the city’s problems.
Chicago is far from the only city trying the various predictive software services currently available. It joins such cities as Denver, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Tacoma, Washington, and Lincoln, Nebraska.
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