One of the most fundamental facets of police work is information collection. After a crime is committed, an officer usually has a very limited window to gather as much knowledge as possible to build a compelling case and arrest those responsible. To do so, they have to rely on every tool at their disposal, as well as their own intuition and experience.
More and more, analytics are becoming a valuable part of that skillset. Not only can custom database software help catch crooks, it could even prevent crime before it occurs.
There are several ways that Big Data can help in law enforcement efforts. For one, it can help departments figure out where best to deploy officers through sophisticated analysis of crime patterns. It can also help find information more much more quickly, an important benefit when collaboration is necessary. In addition, analytics can help precincts figure out how best to deploy their money and time, which can lead to big savings that can be allocated elsewhere or passed on to the taxpayers.
Most importantly, it works. Once the LAPD installed PredPol analytics software, property crime rates dropped 12 percent in half a year. Memphis used a similar system and found a 30 percent decrease in serious crime between 2006 and 2010.
An article in Information Week highlights the value of these sorts of initiatives.
"Analytics above all is part of a new wave of disruptive technologies that help law enforcement agencies combat crime. It has the power to give even modest-sized operations real-time intelligence about their communities, helping better equip police officers in the field. And it promises to help law enforcement leaders develop more effective police services for the future," explains author Wai-Ming Yu.
For any forward-thinking government agency, analytics has to be a consideration.