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Case Studies

Crime predictions

In the United States, the Charleston Police Department (CPD) in South Carolina is working with IT firm IBM to assist the city’s more than 400 police officers to more accurately evaluate and forecast crime patterns.  The department is using  IBM predictive analytics software to better allocate its resources and identify criminal hot spots, to prevent crime.



Over the last five years the city force has run a crime analysis system, increasing focused patrol strategies using weekly crime meetings to identify “hot spots”, and the introduction of new technology to capture and disseminate information quickly to enhance officer situational awareness and productivity. The CPD is now applying predictive analytics software that analyzes past and present crime records in seconds and evaluates incident and arrest patterns throughout the city.


While the initial focus of the project is to reduce robberies, the CPD plans to broaden the scope to help the department be more effective in “hotspot” policing. By centralising of all the information the CPD has at its disposal including analysing past and present criminal data and patterns, the department hopes to have a more holistic view of where crime is trending and allow the department to deploy officers to these areas to prevent crimes, before they occur.


For example, burglaries often cluster in terms of time and location; the individuals committing these crimes tend to have predictable patterns, and incidents usually take place near their homes or familiar locations. In addition, property crimes are not displaceable crimes, which means the criminals won’t simply move two miles to another location.


Chief of Police, Gregory Mullen, said: “Criminals continue to evolve and so must we in order to keep pace and reduce the criminal activity that impacts Charleston residents and visitors. Having worked with the IBM team to initiate the pilot project using the predictive analytics technology, we are already seeing the potential value from this approach. It will help us provide critical information to the officers in the field and will allow us to gain greater insight across operations to improve public safety.” 


Through predictive analytics, the CPD hopes to augment its officers’ years of experience and knowledge and provide them with a more in-depth method of looking at crime trends by centralising previously disparate information including patrols, types of criminal offences that are trending, time of day, day of week and even weather.


Mark Cleverley, IBM global director of Public Safety solutions said: “Historically, police agencies focused onprotecting the community by solving crimes quickly to serve as a deterrent to would-be criminals.Technology has proven to be a force multiplier that is helping solve crimes more quickly or to prevent them all together, and improve the way citizens are being served and resources are allocated.”


The Charleston Police Department is using IBM i2 Coplink software and is piloting the IBM SPSS predictive analytics. 


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