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News - 1 November 2012

Predicting crime - a step towards a safer world?

Want to catch a criminal? Prevent a crime? Technology may help - by predicting where crimes might occur. This is no longer the domain of science fiction, as several police departments in the US are now using the IBM predictive analytics technology.

A police officer glances at a screen displaying a city map - and one area suddenly starts flashing red. Seconds later, the department receives data about an assault that is likely to happen there in the next few hours. Patrols get deployed - just in time to stop the crime from happening. No-one gets hurt.

It might sound like a scenario straight out of the science-fiction film Minority Report, but predictive analytics technology to fight crime already exists.

Researchers are working on software that tries to determine which city areas are prone to crime. The computer program analyses police activities, aggregating huge amounts of information, from past and present crime records to real-time data from police patrols.

There have been a number of predictive crime mapping pilot projects in Britain and the United States, and chief constable Mike Barton from the UK Association of Chief Police Officers calls them "the next generation of intelligence-led policing".

For the full story from bbc.co.uk, click here

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