How Towns Can Improve Public Safety with Analytics

October 8th, 2012 by Stan Duda

By Joe Siok, COO of Alpine Consulting, and Mike Reade, Public Safety Business Value Consultant at IBM

Imagine a town with no crime. Impossible – maybe, but maybe not? For a police department with tens of thousands of records stored in disparate systems and no means to collect and analyze the data or see patterns no crime seems an out of reach goal. But what about the police department that applies predictive analytics to make sense of massive amounts of data within their own jurisdiction, but also the ability to potentially share relevant information with other departments to identify and study patterns of crime? For them, no crime is a far more attainable goal.

With data collection happening everywhere for all kinds of purposes, police departments have new ways to work smarter. For solutions to everything from traffic tie-ups to security breeches, public safety agencies can gather disparate and voluminous data and use analytics to derive new insights and uncover trends before they become systemic issues or criminal events.

New technology can synchronize and analyze information gathered from diverse data collection systems. Patterns revealed through analytics help decision makers predict — rather than just react to — problems and dispatch first responders to the scene faster.

The results, such as predictive policing, mean better service to their local communities. Whether it’s minimizing inconveniences, overseeing emergencies or stopping crime, technology can help municipalities become smarter and safer.

All over the world, public safety agencies are increasingly using analytics to improve operations and make their cities safer. Take, for example, Rio de Janeiro. That city transformed its emergency response system in preparation for hosting the World Cup and Olympics. The New York Real Time Crime Center is consolidating   a wide variety of data into real crime fighting results. And the City of Memphis Police Department is using analytics to help protect its citizens and crush crime.

On a more local level, IBM is working with crime analysts, police detectives and other county departments on ways to gain more value from the data they have available to them. Using analytics, public safety professionals can gain deeper knowledge around how identities relate based on past reports of violations. These insights can be used in new ways to improve crime fighting while keeping police officers safer.

In smaller cities, the number of crimes is, in part, dependent on the economic strength of the town. The more a local government invests in crime prevention the safer the town can be. Using analytics as part of that strategy may require a leap of faith for some, but when a police detective can show how analysis of existing data could make a connection that draws an insight and prevents a crime, it is quicker for local government leaders to grasp the potential value of investing in technology.

Keeping cities safe is a critical factor in their economic viability. Public officials are turning to the same technology advances that businesses have been using — autonomic sense-and-respond capabilities analytics and visualization — to make public safety systems smarter.

Predictive policing is driving a fundamental shift from responding to events to anticipating and even preventing them — bringing local police departments one step closer to their goal of no crime.

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