Fight Crime with Data

Is it possible to predict and prevent a crime even before it happens? More organizations and law enforcement agencies are finding that stopping crime before it starts is indeed possible and that data analytics and, specifically, predictive analytics, is an increasingly valuable crime-fighting tool needed to help keep citizens safe and secure.

Predictive analytics in the business world uses data and statistics to identify trends, understand customers' drives and desires, improve business performance, advance strategic decision making and predict behavior. IBM, which has the world's largest portfolio of big data analytics technologies and solutions, says that we generate 2.5 quintillion bytes of data each day from a variety of sources, including climate information, posts on social media sites, sales receipts and transaction records, and healthcare medical images. IBM believes that data is emerging as the world's newest resource for competitive advantage and analytics is the key to make sense of it. Research firm Gartner Inc. says that big data analytics will play a critical role in detecting crime and security threats, with more than 25 percent of global firms adopting big data analytics by 2016 for at least one case of security and fraud detection.

Data analysis in policing has been used since 1995, when the practice of analyzing crime data for geographic patterns to identify crime “hotspots” was first used with the launch of CompStat (short for COMPlaint STATistics). CompStat, named after the New York City Police Department's accountability process, combines management philosophy and organizational management tools to help track crime locations and case statuses for police departments. The evolution of more sophisticated analytical models, such as predictive analytics and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) mapping, are helping law enforcement officials prevent, identify and investigate suspicious activity. Smart policing using data analytics and predictive analytics allows law enforcement to research trends, develop strategies and improve their counter-crime and counter-fraud programs.

Leading police departments around the world have leveraged predictive analytics to keep their streets safer. Miami-Dade police used statistical analysis to find similarities in crime patterns to help break cold cases, achieving a 73 percent "hit rate." Police in Memphis used their statistical data to change tactics and redirect patrol resources to thwart crimes before they happened and to catch criminals in the act. Memphis reduced serious crime by 30 percent, including a 36.8 percent reduction in crime in one targeted area and up to 15 percent reduction in violent crime since 2006. In Vancouver, where the police department's analytical team developed its own crime and intelligence analysis system, property crime rates dropped citywide per 1,000 residents by 24 percent and violent crimes decreased by 9 percent from 2007 to 2011.

More data analysts are needed

The growing collection of big data among law enforcement agencies and organizations is driving a high demand for data analysts who can process, interpret, summarize and transform it into useful information on which managers and leaders can make decisions and strategies. The increased need for data analysts with statistical experience has given rise to countless job opportunities in any industry. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts employment of data analysts and business analysts will soar in coming years. In 2015, enterprises and agencies were looking to hire more business analysts, data architects, data analysts, data visualizers and database programmers, according to the recent IDG Enterprise study, 2015 Big Data and Analytics, Insights into Initiatives and Strategies Driving Data Investments. Data analysts with an MBA are likely to enjoy the best career advantages.

There are a few online MBA programs that offer specialized concentrations in information systems management, data collection and data reporting, statistical methodologies, econometrics, optimization, database design and strategic database marketing. An MBA with a concentration in business analytics can prepare students to take on careers in this growing field with the knowledge and skills to effectively manage and evaluate analytics and make an immediate and valuable contribution to any law enforcement agency or business enterprise.

Learn more about the UTC online MBA program.


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