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News Link • Technology: Software

L.A. Cops Embrace Crime-Predicting Algorithm

• http://www.technologyreview.com, David Talbot
 A recent study suggests that computers could be better than seasoned police analysts at predicting when and where crime will strike next in a busy city.

Software tested in Los Angeles was twice as good as human analysts at predicting where burglaries and car break-ins might happen, according to a company deploying the technology.

When police in an L.A. precinct called Foothill division followed the computer's advice—and focused their patrols within the areas identified—those areas experienced a 25 percent drop in reported burglaries, an anomaly compared to neighboring areas.

"We are seeing a tipping point—they are out there preventing the crime. The suspect is showing up in the area where he likes to go. They see black-and-white [police cruisers] talking to citizens—and that's enough to disrupt the activity," Sean Malinowski, a police captain in the Foothill division, said in a press webinar last week. The division has nearly 200,000 residents in a 46-square-mile area of the San Fernando Valley.

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