Researchers Develop Algorithm That Predicts Crime a Week in Advance


Researchers at the University of Chicago have developed an algorithm that predicts crime weeks in advance. Could it be used to prevent hacks?

This all happens within a radius of 300 meters with 90 percent accuracy. The work was published in the journal Nature.

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The system learns patterns from publicly available data on crimes involving violence and property, the researchers say. Such events are less prone to police bias according to the report’s authors.

The model isolates crime by looking at the temporal and spatial coordinates of individual events and detecting patterns to predict future incidents.

The algorithm divides the city into “spatial tiles” about 300 meters wide and predicts violations in these areas.

The researchers said previous models relied more on traditional neighborhood or political boundaries, which are prone to bias.

The lead author of the study, Ishanu Chattopadhyaya, concluded that the tool’s high accuracy does not mean that it should be used in law enforcement policy management. He added that police departments should not use it for preventive intrusion into neighborhoods to prevent crime.

Chattopadhyay said, “This is not magic; there are limitations but we tested it and it works very well.”

Instead, the algorithm should be added to the toolkit of urban policy and crime-fighting police strategies. The scientist stated,

“We have created a digital twin of the urban environment. If you give it data about what happened in the past, it will tell you about the future.”

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Researchers: Other requests

The team also investigated the police response to crime by analyzing the number of arrests following incidents and comparing rates across neighborhoods.

They found that higher crime rates in richer neighborhoods led to more arrests. In poor areas, the opposite was true. According to the researchers, this could indicate an imbalance in police response.

The tool was tested using historical data from Chicago. The model also performed well with data from seven other US cities: Atlanta, Austin, Detroit, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Portland and San Francisco.

In August 2021 the Pentagon tested a decision system capable of predicting events several days in advance. So the question remains… could such an algorithm be developed to prevent crypto hacks? We all better watch this space.

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