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Analyzing data to fight crime

Police in Edmonton, Alberta, are using business analytics software technology from IBM to identify trends in and “hot spots” of criminal activity to reduce and prevent crimes.

John Warden, business intelligence (BI) project team lead with the Edmonton Police Service, says, “For us, the bottom line is to prevent crime, and business analytics reporting has helped us accomplish that.”

Police use the business analytics software to see data in near real time. Then, frontline patrol officers can use the information to quickly identify problems, associated trends and the locations of crimes to decide how to respond. The police service, for example, can look at the components of response times—such as dispatch delays and travel time—to quicken response. Police also can monitor performance strategically over time and place, as well as tactically on a day-by-day and call-by-call basis, IBM reports.

IBM further says that data analytics enables law enforcement officials and frontline officers to make sense of millions of historic incident, offense, arrest and call-for-service records, so they can pinpoint crime rates and patterns accurately. The quick access to information means police can work smarter and make more timely decisions, IBM adds.

From instant information made available through the business analytics software, Edmonton Police Service, for example, noticed an upward trend in arson activity. By comparing new information with data from previous years, police learned that the trend was likely to increase during certain months in a particular area, and they were able to nearly eliminate arson in that area during that period.

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