The Woodland Police Department has adopted a new computer program to assist officers in reducing crime. PredPol, which stands for Predictive Policing, is internet based software which uses an algorithm to assist officers in deciding where their patrols will be most effective. Using an earthquake aftershock algorithm, the system employs verified crime data to predict future offenses in 500-square-foot locations. The program uses historical information combined with current data to determine patterns. No personal information is used in the program, only type of crime, place of crime, and time of crime.
The predictions are provided to officers as 500' x 500' geographic "boxes" on Google maps that forecast when and where crime is most likely to occur. Police spend extra time in those boxes during their shifts when they're not responding to calls for service or performing other duties.
Predictive policing was developed when the Los Angeles and Santa Cruz police departments approached a group of PhD's in 2005 to do some work on crime data. They were seeking to use technology and high-level math to give police more ways to deal with crime in an era when new officers and larger budgets are not always available. It has worked in the field, cutting burglaries in Santa Cruz, California (pop. 60,000) by 19% and cutting property crimes in the first Los Angeles Police division to deploy it by 12% -- in both cases, only six months after deployment in the Fall of 2011. In the past year, more than a dozen US and foreign cities have decided to use this technology, including Seattle, San Francisco, and Atlanta.
For more information on PredPol please visit http://www.predpol.com.