Minority Report: The Future of Crime Detection and Security
Photo credit: murplejane on Flickr
The newest innovation in crime fighting doesn’t include high tech gadgets, guns or prisons. The most effective weapon being developed right now is information, and it is being put in the hands of ordinary citizens in a new format. This new tool is called “crime mapping”, and it’s been available for years.
Crime mapping is exactly how it sounds—maps showing where crimes occur. What makes crime mapping so successful is that it tells us when and where crime has occurred, and is most likely to take place in the future—sort of like the movie Minority Report.
So where does this crime data come from? When law enforcement officers file reports electronically, they are tagged with a location. Police departments around the country submit data on all types of crimes, including assaults, burglary, theft, car theft, and lesser crimes.
Sex offender registries can also be included for informational purposes. The FBI and other organizations collect this data, and recently other companies have gotten into the act.
While some agencies pay for data, websites such as SpotCrime.com, CrimeReports.com and CrimeMapping.com take this data and offer it to the public for free. What make these tools useful are the interactive mapping, simple icons, and the ability to review detailed information with the click of a button. The visual display of information makes it easier to digest and more useful than the list of crimes published in newspapers.
Police departments have started using this data to target high crime areas, distributing allocated resources where they are needed, and predict when and where crime is most likely to take place. Crime maps show patterns and trends, and help the police analyze data.
New York City and Los Angeles are among the big cities that have been using crime mapping tools for years, and the rates of homicide and violent crime are at their lowest rates in decades.Continued on the next page