Is Crime Predictable?

Police are using software to forecast where crimes will take place

8 August 2012

Police departments are trying out PredPol, predictive-analysis software designed to show where crimes are likely to take place. PredPol’s forecasts are based on the times and locations of previous felonies combined with information about criminal patterns and behavior. Officers then patrol locations where the software predicts crimes are apt to be committed. PredPol was beta tested this past year by the police in Santa Cruz, Calif., and in a Los Angeles precinct during the past six months. Santa Cruz saw a 19 percent reduction in burglaries. Some observers say such software will make policing more efficient, but others argue that police officers can do a better job relying on their instincts and experience.

Do you think software can predict crime? Why or why not? Are there drawbacks to using such technology?

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