What is often a number one concern when you’re choosing a neighborhood to live in? What are you acutely aware of when visiting an unfamiliar city, or even hyper-vigilant about as you walk through your own streets at night? Your safety.
It’s a top concern for people, so it must also be a top concern for cities. Luckily, smart city technology is going to re-write the way we police our streets. In this series, I’ll talk about what the response to crime will look like in the cities of the future, at every stage of the crimes we are vulnerable to as citizens.
Before the Crime
We generally think of police as there to respond to crime, punish criminals, and mitigate the damage once wrongdoing has already taken place. After all, you only call the police after something has already gone very wrong. But wouldn’t the ideal system prevent crime before you are in any danger instead of trying to right the wrongs that were already committed?
A smart city police force is active long before any lawbreaking even takes place. Police stations will be equipped with intelligent supercomputers that will collect and analyze decades worth of crime statistics and reports. By looking for patterns and trends in the city’s crime rates and location, police will be able to make much more informed decisions when it comes to protecting citizens.
The long term bird’s eye view of crime, analyzed and reported by an impartial computer will provide hard data about which locations and departments will prove the greatest return on investment when it comes to allocating limited resources.
Combine this historical data with live information about what’s happening in the city realtime (elections, sporting events, holidays, breaking news, weather, traffic patterns, and more) and what you have is an incredible resource for preventing crime. Instead of simply waiting for a crime to be reported, the police will be able to predict with impressive accuracy the areas which are most vulnerable to crime at each given moment, as well as the type of crime and the intervention most likely to be effective.
The police are then able to be proactive rather than reactive, boosting security presence and patrols in the communities that most need it, so that they are protected before they even face a threat. It’s easy to see how the switch from chasing criminals to stopping them from offending makes all the difference for the citizens in that community.
Imagine, too, that an innovative new program is introduced to cut crime. It may be promising, but expensive. Big data analysis will now allow for the intelligent implementation of such exciting new ideas by providing accurate and fast data about whether and where the program is effective.
And here’s the most exciting part — it really works! New York has seen dramatic reductions in crime since adopting a Domain Awareness System in 2012. Murders were reduced by 35 percent, and robberies by 16%. In the foothills of Los Angeles, they have reduced the rates of serious crime by almost 25 percent across the board — no small feat.
There are only so many police men and women to go around, and so many resources to support them. Unfortunately, that’s unlikely to change. But with this technology, police departments will be able to position what they have to make the biggest and most meaningful difference to us — the people on the streets.
Stay tuned for part 2, where we’ll talk about what happens to your moment-to-moment safety when a crime is committed.