Today ́s pre-crime technology works not as an oracle foretelling the future. Rather, it consists of various types of data helping law enforcement predict the possibility of crime-related events...

In the never-ending search for ways to combat crime, one thing is clear: the ideal solution is to prevent it before it happens.

Advances in technology gives law enforcement agencies an enormous opportunity to transform how they tackle crime. In the United States, the first technology revolution was centered on three innovations: The telephone, two-way radio, and the automobile. But it’s been a long journey since then.


One-third of all U.S. cities either use or are considering using predictive policing: For example, Hartford, Connecticut, has implemented a system of pre-crime technology in the form of new software and surveillance cameras (bringing the total to nearly 1,000), as well as a network of drones.

How does it work? While the stable cameras are used for constant surveillance, software also analyzes the footage in real-time to determine patterns. Foot traffic, for example, at a particular house could indicate a location for drug deals. And drones can track suspects who are likely to cause an additional crime.

Hartford’s system does not include facial recognition technology yet, but it’s equipment could incorporate this in the future. Hartford also does not store information for outside entities.


Cameras wall

Police often reduce crime by increasing the expected probability of arrest and punishment, with public surveillance camera systems remaining a cost-effective way to achieve this. When a camera is present, the technology mainly serves as a visible reminder to potential offenders that they are being watched; increasing the perceived risks of stealing an object or assaulting a person, for example. The same reminder also occurs via the use of police body cameras, which are now commonly used across U.S. law enforcement departments.

Research by the Urban Institute has shown that, in Baltimore and Chicago, cameras were linked to reduced crime; even beyond the areas with camera coverage. In some areas, crime was reduced by 30 incidents per month and, in Chicago, the reduced crime warranted the significant cost of the technology.

In London, UK, there are estimated to be 500,000 CCTV cameras in use, including by businesses and private homes. As well as being used to deter crime, the evidence that they produce is invaluable in helping solve cases: it is reported that 95% of murder cases use CCTV footage as evidence.


Today ́s big data-based pre-crime technology works not as an oracle foretelling the future. Rather, it consists of various types of data helping law enforcement predict the possibility of crime-related events.

PredPol was created by UCLA with the goal of seeing how scientific analysis of crime data could help spot patterns of criminal behavior. Today it is used by more than 60 police departments around the United States. The program identifies areas in a neighborhood where serious crimes are more likely to occur during a particular period.
The Netherlands uses another software tool that analyzes crime data as well as social data in specific areas; such as people’s ages, their incomes and whether they claim benefits. This is used to predict where in a city specific types of crimes are more likely to occur.

Japan has also announced its intention to put a national predictive policing system in place in the run-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The AI-based system would employ a “deep learning” algorithm that allows the computer to teach itself by analyzing big data.

It would encompass the fields of criminology, mathematics, and statistics; whilst gathering data on times, places, weather and geographical conditions as well as other aspects of crimes and accidents. It may also include information gleaned from social media.

Although not every police department uses this kind of technology, the list is likely to grow as AI becomes more advanced and law enforcement becomes more familiar with its potential.


Biometrics recognition

The purpose of biometrics is to distinguish one person from another based on each person’s physical characteristics; such as their fingerprints, face, voice, eyes, or hands.

The Dubai Police are deploying artificial intelligence and facial recognition software to help predict and prevent crimes in areas of the city known to police.

The Director of the Dubai Police Operations Department, Brigadier Kamil Butti Al Suwaidi, explained that the police command room will use a smart security system using sophisticated biometric software. The system will compare images from CCTV cameras installed in public places to a database of facial photos of known or wanted criminals to automatically trigger alerts to police officers. This will ensure a quicker, more immediate response to prevent any potential crimes being carried out in the emirate.

Technological advances will continue to enhance law enforcement’s ability to monitor public spaces and, by extension, will continue to aid efforts to prevent crime and apprehend criminals.

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