In what may be a continuing series (Austerity as Opportunity?) witness the ingenuity of the Santa Clara Police Department, who are leveraging data to predict crime like something out of Minority Report:
Zach Friend, crime analyst for Santa Cruz police, confirmed to the New York Times that the program led to five arrests in July. Even more impressive, compared to July 2010 burglaries, the number of July 2011 burglaries are down 27 percent. Whether or not that trend holds remains to be seen, but so far it appears that being in the wrong place at the right time works.
This is a good example of a nimble agency using budget constraints as a burning platform to do business better. Eschewing the status quo, SCPD is leveraging terabytes of existing data to predict trends, borrowing a page from Goldman Sachs or the Tampa Bay Rays. By partnering with local academics who have the skills they need an a vested interest in improving public safety, SCPD is leveraging innovation to move well beyond treading water.
Predictive analytics are great for crime pattern analysis. Crime information warehouse work was pioneered in NYC with IBM, and has been expanded over time to include analytics. The “Blue Crush” story from the City of Memphis is similarly impressive (google “blue crush memphis”.
While not new news…this is good news in that the use of analytics is becoming more widespread.
Like an episode of Numb3rs