Similar technologies have been tested in Washington, Los Angeles, Kansas City, Baltimore, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Milwaukee, Denver, Tacoma, and other cities.
The gangs of … Chicago
In several police stations on the Chicago South Side, officers are using digital maps to see where a computer algorithm predicts crime will happen next.
Chicago’s homicide rate is significantly higher compared to the larger American cities of New York and Los Angeles.
In 2016, Chicago was responsible for nearly half of the increase in homicides in the U.S. Citywide, the number of murders is up 3 percent at 402 – prompting U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to describe some of its areas as "killing fields."
The techniques being used in Chicago's 7th District's control room, one of six such centers opened since January as part of a roughly $6 million experiment, are aimed at complimenting traditional police work and are part of a broader effort to overhaul the force of some 12,500 officers.
While technology cannot solve all problems, since the program has been used the number of shootings in the 7th District from January through July fell 39 percent compared with the same period last year. The number of murders dropped by 33 percent to 34.
Crime, like earthquakes, follow a pattern
Jeff Brantingham, a professor at the University of California at Los Angeles, said crime often seems random, but it follows patterns.
“The question becomes, “’Can we build mathematical structures to understand these patterns?’ The answer is yes, absolutely,” Brantingham said. “The best way to capture the way we think about crime patterns . . . is to think about earthquakes.”
One of the technologies being used is HunchLab, a predictive policing program made by Philadelphia-based company Azavea. It combines crime data with factors including the location of local businesses, the weather and socioeconomic information to forecast where crime might occur.
They are also using the gunfire detection system made by ShotSpotter Inc (SSTI.O), which uses sensors to locate the source of gunshots.
Police officials around the country are tight-lipped when it comes to disclosing details about the functioning of these technologies, and decline to say how many such devices are installed.