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Crime Analytics: Improving Public Safety Through Data-Driven Decision Making

Decision-makers and first responders require accurate, objective data to respond quickly. Policymakers need precise, consistent, and valuable data metrics to effectively and easily understand how people move through the criminal justice system and how related policy and financial changes impact the safety of their citizens. Crime analytics is a powerful tool for achieving these goals. 

By applying big data technologies to public safety programs, law enforcement agencies and policymakers can improve policing practices, use resources more efficiently, and proactively combat crime. In this article, we’ll explore how the combination of cutting-edge technologies, including the modern cloud data platform and advanced analytics, are creating opportunities for building secure, resilient communities.

Why Crime Analytics?

As criminals grow more sophisticated, traditional methods of combating crime are no longer enough. Rapid advances in big data analytics are helping law enforcement agencies keep pace, providing them with the tools to upgrade their prevention and intervention capabilities. Consider the following reasons why forward-looking public safety agencies are leveraging crime analytics to advance their mission.

Improved resource allocation

Having the right assets in the right places at the right time helps agencies get the most from limited resources. Crime analytics tools use historical crime data and other contextual data to identify trends and patterns to help decision-makers determine when and where specific assets should be deployed.

Support for complex, data-intensive investigations

Detecting financial crime is a complex, resource-intensive process. Every year healthcare fraud siphons off millions of dollars from insurers, including the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the nation’s largest payer for healthcare. Using predictive models, behavioral analytics, and real-time monitoring, fraud prevention tools uncover suspicious anomalies in claims, billing records, and other information sources, flagging them as potentially fraudulent. Similar underlying technology is assisting law enforcement agencies with detecting money laundering activities. Significant advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) have made these tools even more effective.

Early warning system for emerging crime trends

Crime analytics tools can provide advanced warnings about emerging crime trends or patterns. With the ability to detect and monitor increases in criminal activity, law enforcement can implement targeted interventions and strategies before slight upticks in crime evolve into something more serious. By having more time for planning and implementation, agencies can create more effective and precisely targeted crime reduction initiatives.

Crime Analytics in Action

Crime analytics enables public safety agencies to create safer communities and foster a proactive, technology-driven approach to combat criminal activities. Here are five ways crime analytics gives government agencies the upper hand in their fight against crime.

Social network analysis (SNA)

Many types of crimes do not happen in isolation — they require a network of people working together towards a common goal. Social network analysis seeks to understand the interrelationship of individuals involved in organized criminal activity. SNA is especially useful in identifying the key members of criminal organizations such as gangs, drug networks, and human trafficking rings. By understanding how these organizations are structured, police can develop more effective strategies for dismantling them. Law enforcement agencies can use this crime analytics method to determine whether someone should be prosecuted or used to gather additional information on more senior members of the criminal organization.

Hotspot mapping

Hotspot maps pinpoint specific areas with a high incidence of crime. These maps can provide fine-grained detail, highlighting specific addresses, city blocks, and intersections where crimes occur,  and the types of crimes that routinely happen there. This criminal analytics method removes the guesswork about where to position resources and the best methods for preventing and responding to specific types of criminal activity. Hotspot mapping can also be used to create long-term prevention strategies, with law enforcement partnering with city officials and community organizations to address the underlying drivers of crime. 

Predictive policing

By applying statistical and analytical processes, predictive policing analyzes historical crime data to predict when and where criminal activity is most likely to occur. With a focus on prevention, predictive methods allow law enforcement agencies to make more informed decisions about where to allocate resources, helping decrease the likelihood that crime will occur while increasing the probability of an arrest if it does.

Evaluating the effectiveness of current policing strategies

Crime analytics help law enforcement agencies assess the efficacy of their policing strategies and initiatives. By comparing the actual impact of these programs against their intended outcome, decision-makers can refine their approaches and improve outcomes.

Strengthening community engagement 

Crime analytics generates valuable insights that can be shared with the public, helping to forge beneficial partnerships between law enforcement agencies and local communities. Providing crime-related information to the public empowers citizens to take preventive measures that reduce the number of opportunities for criminals to act. Data from crime analytics programs can also assist in developing crime prevention programs that provide the public with the information needed to address the needs specific to their community.

Build Your Crime Analytics Program with Snowflake

The Snowflake Data Cloud provides a strong foundation for powering data-intensive crime analytics applications. With Snowflake, organizations can dramatically improve data access and securely share data between local, state, and national agencies without having to copy and move data. Snowflake addresses the security and privacy concerns of external data access by enabling local administrators to share only what is approved, maintaining strong data governance and lineage. 

Snowflake enables police departments to access real-time data from multiple sources, such as cameras, sensors, and social media feeds, so officers can respond quickly to incidents and make data-informed decisions. Snowflake also gives policymakers a holistic view so they can quickly and easily understand how people move through systems and how related policy and financial changes impact the safety of those they serve. With seamless data integration, lightning-fast query processing, and rapidly scalable data storage, Snowflake helps government agencies build effective crime analytics programs that protect the public and create stronger communities.