Santa Cruz Police Department Testing Computer Program That Predicts Crime

Posted on August 17, 2011

The Santa Cruz Police Department is testing a computer program that predicts when and where crimes may occur. The New York Times reports that the program recently directed police officers to a parking garage. The police found two criminals peering into cars in the garage. The Times article also says the program has led to five arrests so far. The police department hopes the program can help them do more with less resources.

The program, called the Hawkes Process, forecasts when and where crimes may occur. The officers keep the computer updated with new crimes and the program is recalibrated each day. The program was adapted from computer algorithms used in seismology.

A PDF file here contains charts and documents about the Hawkes Process.

The concept is a long ways off from the murder preventing technology used in the film, Minority Report. The Precrime division in Minority Report relied on the visions of three psychic Pre-Cogs to prevent murders from happening.
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