How can data analytics help us prevent crimes?
According to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, one of the best crime novelists of all time, the world is full of obvious things that almost nobody ever observes.
According to him, solving and preventing crime would be much more effective if law enforcement agencies noticed these clues left in the open, a skill possessed by his most famous character, Sherlock Holmes.
That said, even the famed author wouldn’t have realised how applicable his words have become in modern policing and law enforcement.
While there are not many people like Sherlock Holmes today, one technology, in particular, can help modern law enforcement surpass the antics of the fictional sleuth. The technology in question is data analytics; a treasured resource used in almost every industry to support data-backed decision making.
Using data is not a novel technique in policing, however. Law enforcement agencies have always used data in some capacity to solve crimes. Whether it is criminal profiling or crime detection, the police have relied on data to react to crimes.
With modern data analytics tools, law enforcement can be proactive rather than being reactive—which is certainly one way to prevent crimes.
Data analytics can identify criminal behaviour
Fans of Sherlock Holmes will know the skill the consulting detective used to build a profile just by looking at a crime scene. You may be surprised to know that this is an investigative technique used by law enforcement officers, albeit in a less dramatic way.
Criminal profiling involves creating a descriptive profile of the likely perpetrator to be used as a guide in capturing the criminal. To create a criminal profile, investigators collect clues and search for potential behavioural connections between the collected artifacts.
Manually building a criminal profile, though, takes a considerable amount of time.
Modern data analytics uses machine learning to identify patterns and create more accurate criminal profiles in significantly less time, which can then be used to capture criminals.
Criminal profiling can also be used to prevent crimes since most criminals exhibit predictable behaviours leading up to crimes. By analysing the behaviour of non-criminals and comparing them to known criminal behaviour, law enforcement can identify criminal intent and take steps to apprehend and rehabilitate the person, preventing future crimes.
Airports are a prime example of the use of criminal profiling to prevent crimes, as airport security relies on criminal profiling knowledge to identify the behaviours of smugglers and apprehend them, preventing contraband from entering a country.
Crime prevention with social media policing
According to criminal investigators, the behaviour displayed on social media can help identify potential criminal intent, which is useful in crime prevention.
Social media platforms, however, serve billions of users, making manual social media policing almost impossible, but with the use of modern data analytics tools law enforcement can scour social media platforms for precursors to criminal intent.
Modern machine learning tools embedded into data analytics platforms can analyse billions of comments and other social media posts to identify criminal intent, allowing authorities to apprehend these individuals and prevent crime.
Data analytics drives predictive policing
Predictive policing means using law enforcement in places where crime is most likely to occur. This technique has been used effectively in large cities such as London, Chicago and New York to reduce crimes.
Law enforcement agencies in these cities use statistics and analytics to identify places with high crime rates and increase policing resources in these places.
London, for example, used predictive policing, which saw a reduction of 12% in robberies, 21% in burglaries, and 32% in vehicle theft.
Data analytics is a law enforcement tool to prevent crimes
Effective policing is a critical element needed to create a safe environment for future generations. Unless law enforcement is proactive, however, a community will always be riddled with crime.
Data analytics can help power preventive policing, which can create a safer community for future generations.