The Charleston Police Department in South Carolina is working with IBM to assist the city’s more than 400 police officers to more accurately evaluate and forecast crime patterns. The department is using predictive analytics software to better allocate its resources and identify criminal hot spots to prevent crime and increase public safety.
During the past five years, the City of Charleston has worked to reduce crime in an ongoing commitment to create a safer environment for the city’s residents and visitors. This has included a variety of initiatives, such as implementing a robust crime analysis system, focusing patrol strategies through weekly crime meetings to identify “hot spots,” and introducing new technology to capture and disseminate information quickly to enhance officer situational awareness and productivity.
The Charleston Police Department is applying predictive analytics software that analyzes past and present crime records in seconds and evaluates incident and arrest patterns throughout the city.
While the initial focus of the project is to reduce robberies, the police department plans to broaden the scope to help the department be more effective in “hot spot” policing. By centralizing all the information the Charleston Police Department has at its disposal, including analyzing past and present criminal data and patterns, the department will have a more holistic view of where crime is trending, which will allow it to deploy officers to these areas to prevent crimes before they occur.
For example, burglaries often cluster in terms of time and location; the individuals committing these crimes tend to have predictable patterns, and incidents usually take place near their homes or familiar locations. In addition, property crimes are not displaceable crimes, which means the criminals won’t simply move two miles to another location.
“Criminals continue to evolve, and so must we in order to keep pace and reduce the criminal activity that impacts Charleston residents and visitors,” says Gregory Mullen, Charleston’s chief of police. “Having worked with the IBM team to initiate the pilot project using the predictive analytics technology, we are already seeing the potential value from this approach. It will help us provide critical information to the officers in the field and will allow us to gain greater insight across operations to improve public safety.”
Through predictive analytics, the Charleston Police Department will be able to augment its officers’ years of experience and knowledge and provide them with a more in-depth method of looking at crime trends by centralizing previously disparate information such as patrols, types of criminal offenses that are trending, time of day, day of week, and even weather conditions.
“Historically, police agencies focused on protecting the community by solving crimes quickly to serve as a deterrent to would-be criminals,” says Mark Cleverley, IBM global director of public safety solutions. “Technology has proven to be a force multiplier that is helping solve crimes more quickly or prevent them altogether, and improve the way citizens are being served and resources are allocated.”
Charleston joins the ranks of cities like New York, Rochester, Las Vegas, Memphis, Los Angeles, Vancouver, and many others that are taking advantage of technology to establish so called “smarter cities.” This approach is helping to improve public safety and services for citizens.
The Charleston Police Department project is another example of the enormous promise new technologies hold in helping public officials to better manage their vast array of data and resources. IBM has more than 2,000 smarter cities engagements underway around the world, helping municipalities manage public services such as crime, emergency response, traffic, and water systems more efficiently.