3 things you need to know before choosing a predictive policing software solution

Police agencies that want to increase their effectiveness while holding the budgetary line should consider acquiring a predictive policing software solution


The following is paid sponsored content by ViON.

By Doug Wyllie for PoliceOne BrandFocus

Throughout just about every human enterprise, organizational leaders seek to make data-driven decisions in order to increase efficiency.

Police agencies should consider acquiring a predictive policing software solution. (Image Pixabay)
Police agencies should consider acquiring a predictive policing software solution. (Image Pixabay)

Because data analytics has proven to be effective in all manner of private industry, it is not surprising that for the past several years, predictive policing — a powerful new data analysis tool for law enforcement — has become increasingly used to help prevent criminal activity and increase the effectiveness of law enforcement professionals.

Before you choose a predictive policing software solution, you should know the answers to the following questions.

What are the benefits of predictive policing software solutions?

Law enforcement professionals have been doing predictive policing for more than a half decade.

However, that “analysis” typically consisted of colored pins on a large wall map in the station house — each color pin was coded to a type of crime. Patrol priorities were set by looking at the pins on the map.

In addition, there are silos of data today so information isn’t shared across agencies.

Predictive policing software takes that concept into the 21st century, utilizing powerful data-analysis tools in the past that were unavailable previously to police.

One of the primary benefits for police agencies using some form of predictive policing software solution is that they are able to increasingly prevent crime instead of just respond after it occurs.

The public continues to demand high levels of performance from their police departments, but at the same time, police budgets have remained stagnant (or in some cases, decreased).

Subsequently, agencies are seeking to increase police services without any associated jump in operating costs. And predictive analytics can be a big help.

With predictive policing software, departments can use the information gleaned to more efficiently deploy their resources to increase the possibility of arrests and convictions by being in the right place at the right time when crime is committed.

For example, predictive crime analytics allows law enforcement to predict incidents by type of crime. As a result, different resources — from foot and bike patrol to specialized gang and drug task forces — can focus on lowering specific types of crime at specific locations.

How does predictive policing software work?

Predictive policing software is not “Minority Report” — there are no “Precogs” here. It is not police arresting people without probable cause, and it is not a violation of Constitutional protections under the Fourth Amendment.

Instead, predictive policing software collects data from a wide variety of sources — both non-LE and LE-specific — and intelligently crunches the numbers in order for analysis by law enforcement professionals, said Trent Lowe, a public safety account manager for ViON Corporation, a predictive policing systems integrator.

Data can be drawn from known databases of past crimes (CompStat and the like), gunshot detection systems, license plate readers and other police tools.

Further, information can be gathered from non-LE resources, such as the zoning/real estate commission, school truancy records, and even the census.

Anyone can provide software to view video — the real test is providing analytics such as gunshot detection, facial recognition, predictive crime analytics, and the like, Lowe said.

This type of software lets LE agencies partner and share data, Lowe said. An agency may have five to 10 or more disparate data systems in place and the same amount of manufactures.

“Agencies are looking to partner with vendors and help provide a total solution to integrate these systems in a single platform with real time situational awareness,” Lowe said.

All of the information is then presented to the police analysts in an easy-to-understand dashboard display, so that better informed decisions can be made about deployment of resources.

With that intelligence in hand, law enforcement can then increase patrol presence in geographic areas at greater risk and conduct crime-specific interventions such as buy-bust operations and the more.

What is a real-life example of predictive policing?

Let’s consider a typical use case of an agency using this software.

As the agency rolls out its software solution they work to ensure that the data collected comes from a wide variety of municipal service providers. Let’s say, for example, that one of those data feeds is the local zoning commission, and approval is made for a 24-hour mom-and-pop liquor/convenience store to be opened next month at the corner of Main and Floral.

Previously, that storefront had been a 9-to-5 laundromat.

One might correctly surmise that the type of clientele gathering at that corner is likely to change and that the peak times for activity on that coroner also will shift.

Having received this data in advance, commanders can step up patrols before the store opens and keep that high-visibility presence for as many months after opening as is necessary.

If done correctly, this could prevent the types of crimes — loitering, public intoxication and armed robbery — typically associated with such businesses. Having real-time access to this information can help law enforcement prevent crimes before they happen.

Predictive policing technology will undoubtedly continue to be adopted by agencies large and small. The technology available today is too good to be ignored, and if the past is prologue, the technology will only get better as the years go by.

For more information about predictive policing software suites, contact ViON.

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