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Memphis fights crime with predictive analytics



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The Memphis Police Department (MPD) is using predictive analytics technology from IBM to help fight crime. Since 2006, the city has reduced serious crime by 31 percent, including a decrease of 15.4 percent in violent crime, according to a press release from IBM.

Col. James Harvey, commander of Ridgeway Station at the Memphis Police Department, says, “As crime becomes more sophisticated, law enforcement must become even smarter by adopting advanced crime prevention tactics made possible with IBM predictive analytics software. Memphis Police Department now has the invaluable insight all of our staff can use—from the commanders to the patrolling officers—to specifically focus investigative and patrol resources with the goal of preventing crime and making our neighborhoods safer.”

Harvey adds, “IBM’s comprehensive set of capabilities for data access, data preparation, analysis and reporting allows us to get the most value from our analytical resources, empowering every officer on the force to take a proactive role in the city’s ongoing commitment to crime prevention and public safety.”

Aware that traditional policing approaches were becoming less effective, the MPD created Blue CRUSH (Criminal Reduction Utilizing Statistical History), an evidence-based approach using the IBM software, built in partnership with the University of Memphis Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice.

Blue CRUSH uses IBM SPSS predictive analytics to analyze past and current information and create multilayer maps of crime “hotspots” based on various arrests and incidents. MPD can evaluate incident patterns throughout the city and connect the dots, according to IBM. That enables Blue CRUSH to analyze an array of data in areas as large as the city’s nine precincts or as small as a single block. The goal is to put the right people in the right place at the right time to be more effective at fighting crime.


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