How Location-Based Data Analytics Can Help Prevent And Reduce Crime

The coalition Government has pledged to publish more data, including crime rates, to be more open with the public. Therefore, police forces are increasingly looking for new ways to ensure data is more accessible and more importantly, accurate. They are recognising that technology is the solution. This provides increased visibility of crucial information, such as crime hotspots, to not only reach government targets and make the data more available to the public, but also to put preventative procedures in place to help fight and reduce crime.

Expanding data use

Consequently, demand for more accurate, more detailed information has grown within the UK. Forces are beginning to realise they can achieve much more with the data available at their fingertips, specifically with regards to accessing real-time, location-based data. With the advent of more flexible web-based data analytics, stored data can now be combined with real-time data out in the field, allowing for analysis of law enforcement data to help prevent and reduce crime.

Using data mining, web-based predictive analytics and business intelligence (BI) tools creates more accurate location-based information by delivering increased visibility of crime figures through easy-to-use charts and graphs held on a common online platform.

Accurately pinpointing crime

Police forces are seeing the benefits of these technologies and are deploying web-based software to aggregate historical and real-time data. When BI is married with a Geographic Information System (GIS) and mapping capabilities, information can be analysed online to take full advantage of its geo-spatial parts, such as street names, postcodes and telephone numbers.

In the law enforcement sector, this software can be applied to accurately pinpoint known offenders and analyse their criminal behavioural patterns in order to determine when they are likely to commit a crime. The system can accurately forecast the likelihood of crimes in specific areas by correlating present and past information like criminal records, motive, and type of crime at a specific location depending on certain variables such as weather, particular days of the week, and major events happening in the same area.

This allows police forces to make smarter decisions about the deployment of resources to reduce crime as patrol cars can be sent to the areas in question to prevent these crimes from happening and / or to track and catch those known offenders in the act. As a result of implementing these technologies certain police forces have found that crime decreased by 49 per cent.

Accident prevention

Additionally, web-based data analytics can help determine accident blackspots. When a road accident occurs, it is logged and stored on the common platform system. The police can then analyse accidents in the same area through the business intelligence software, which automatically collates real-time and historical data.

The police can use the data to decide if certain more accident-prone areas need a higher degree of policing. They can also reach more informed decisions on whether roads need different layouts or even if traffic lights are causing reoccurring problems. This technology can lead to big improvements in road safety, reducing the number of road accidents, to save lives and meet government targets.

Improved crowd control

The police can also apply this technology to analyse large events such as football matches to improve crowd control procedures. This uses historical data on where the majority of spectators are located during matches, both within the stadium, around the grounds and at train, bus and tube stops.

This is particularly important considering the popularity of festivals, sporting events and pop concerts where thousands upon thousands of people travel to one place at the same time. If these live events have been analysed previously and are matched with real-time data through business intelligence software, the police can deploy appropriate resources to ensure the public is monitored accurately and kept safe.

There are clear benefits in the use of location-based technology within police forces to improve the allocation of resources by better understanding and analysing variables that can influence crimes and accidents in certain areas. These solutions help the police to prevent and reduce crime, which keeps communities safer.

It also allows police forces to deliver clear and accurate data to the government when necessary to meet public sector targets. More education is still needed on this front and emerging technologies, such as operational and pervasive BI applications, should become more and more widespread since their benefits are proven to improve public safety and reduce crime.

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Peter Walker is a seasoned business intelligence expert who has previously served as International Sales Director at Dedicated Micros and Group Sales Manager at Microsoft before joining as Country Manager/MD, UK, Ireland & Switzerland at Information Builders UK.