New SPD software predicts neighborhood crime

Police are hoping a new “predicative policing” software program will help them be more proactive in patrolling crime hotspots by determining where the violent aftershocks will be. The department is rolling its program out for a trial in two of the city’s precincts — Southwest and here in the East Precinct.

Police Chief John Diaz introduced the software Wednesday, which works by creating an algorithm that predicts where and when crimes will occur by analyzing data since 2008.

“This technology will allow us to be proactive rather than reactive in responding to crime,” said Mayor Mike McGinn at a press conference. “This investment along with our existing hot spot policing work will help us to fulfill the commitments we made in the 20/20 Plan to use data in deploying our officers to make our streets safer.”

According to the city, the software – which costs about the same as an officer’s salary at $73k to set-up – is twice as effective as human analyzed-data, and looks at information about previous crimes, such as types of crime committed, location and time, to predict where and when crimes will occur. The ongoing annual cost of the program will be an additional $43,000 per year.

Based on models for predicting aftershocks from earthquakes, Predictive Policing forecasts the locations where crime is likely to occur, down to a geographic area as small as 500 feet by 500 feet. It works by entering all crime and location data dating back to 2008 into a complex algorithm that generates a prediction about where crimes are likely to take place on a certain day and time. Officers are provided with these forecasts before beginning their shifts, and are assigned to use their “proactive time” between 911 calls to patrol those areas.

CHS recently reported on SPD statistics in Capitol Hill that showed trends across the precinct’s beats, including a high level of assaults around Broadway and Pike/Pine and a giant leap in burglaries in the densely populated area between Broadway and I-5.

SOSea might want to plan a few of its visibility events around burglary in the densely  populated E1 beat that covers the area dominated by multifamily housing below Broadway. The 2012 totals are on pace for a whopping 80%+ jump for reported break-ins in the neighborhood.

You can see First Hill’s E2 also is on pace for a burglary spike after a downtick in 2011.

Meanwhile, central beat C2 just needs help in general as it appears likely to turn in big jumps in each of the main categories. We’ll have to ask what was behind the change in burglaries and “theft” in C1. Whatever SPD did, it worked in the northern reaches of the Hill.

While the new software will be used first in the East and Southwest precinct, it is currently analyzing only property crimes. SPD says it should be in place in the rest of the department’s precincts by April and will eventually expand to cover a broader spectrum of criminal activity.