Predictive policing to nail criminal minds

From the June 20/16 New Delhi Times:

Predictive policing is an idea whose time has come, say senior officers. While admitting that the project has been in a limbo for long, they assert that it needs to be put on the fast track.

In February, Delhi Police tied up with the Indian Space Research Organisation for developing a predictive policing tool called CMAPS — Crime Mapping, Analytics and Predictive System. This, officers said, would arm the cops with relevant and timely data in the fight against organized crime.

The technology may not be as fanciful as it sounds and has already been tried in cities such as New York, Los Angeles, London and Berlin.

Coupled with MHA-approved call interceptions, it would give the police an edge over the criminals who were regularly coming up with unique ways to communicate, said an officer. The project, if completed, would use space technology to help the sleuths collect and assess data. The cops on the ground would be equipped with personal digital assistant devices, connected to a central processor storing records of more than 2 lakh criminals.

The technology, cops said, would thus allow real-time access to vital information at the crime scene itself, so that the officers don’t have to go back to the police station for filing a report. The system would convert every distress call into a digital message with the location of the caller being flashed through GPS.

Crime-mapping is currently a periodical process conducted manually by gathering electronic data at an interval of 15 days. The reports are prepared by the joint commissioners and forwarded to special commissioners (law and order), who then brief the police chief.

With the new system, the police would be able to identify gangs in specific areas on a real-time basis. For instance, to curb chain-snatching cases, the cops could ascertain information about specific locations prone to such incidents and take preventive measures.
The tactic, already in use in the West, was a part of a project called Enterprise Information Integration Solution (EI2S). This system put petabytes of information from more than a dozen crime databases at the fingertips of the police. Using this data, the cops implemented their ‘Crime Forecast’ plan to predict when and where criminals could strike. The software would analyse police data for patterns and compare them with information from jails, courts and other crime-fighting agencies. The cops would have access to data on not only the suspects but also likely victims.
Another technique that the police are likely to put into use is neighbourhood analysis. This would help the sleuths understand crime events and the circumstances behind them in a small area on the basis of the previous record. Cases will be classified into multiple categories to understand what types of crime a particular area was prone to and the measures needed thereof.
Another technique, called proximity analysis, would provide information about criminals, victims, witnesses and people who are or were within a certain distance of the crime scene. By analysing demographic and social trends, investigators would be able to understand changes that had taken place in an area and their possible impact on the activity.
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