Applied Smarts

Highlighting interesting projects, concepts and initiatives from around the globe.

Duran, North Carolina Fights Crime with Data Analytics

The Durham, North Carolina, Police Department was doing the best it could to fight crime. The problem was it could no longer fight the numbers: The amount of criminal activity was increasing while the size of police force was shrinking. It knew there had to be a better way to keep the city’s streets safe.

“The challenge we faced was finding out where to direct our efforts so that they had maximum impact while still being efficient,” said Jason Schiess, analytical services manager at the police department. “We couldn’t simply throw out cops everywhere and expect to see results. We didn’t have the resources to do that.”

Still, the police department, armed with tons of data on local crime and criminals, began exploring whether it could better tap into that information to more efficiently crack down on crime. By studying that data, it established that the greatest density of violent crime in Durham was occurring in just a two-square-mile area, which became known as the Bull’s Eye.

Digging Deep Into Data

“We had mountains of data on known gang members and their associates, and the incidence of violent crime and illicit activities, such as drug dealing and street prostitution,” Schiess said. “What we did not have was an easy way to unearth the patterns and trends buried in this data that would allow us to link key individuals and activities to take down criminals.”

The police still needed a way to take the vast amounts of information it already held on criminal activity and turn it into intelligence that could be used to drive more targeted police action.

That’s when they began working with IBM and itsi2 solutions system to dig deeper into the data in order to piece together connections and identify hidden patterns. This smart approach helped officers take a more proactive approach to fighting crime through targeted patrols that have a better chance of catching criminals and keeping the streets safe.

The results show that crime doesn’t pay in Durham, the home of Duke University: Since Operation Bull’s Eye began seven years ago, overall violent crime has dropped 39 percent, while violent gun crime has decreased 46 percent.

“IBM i2 solutions are helping us to close more cases and keep more criminals off the street, making Durham a safer place to live and work,” Schiess said. “Analytics has really opened up a whole new realm of possibilities that is transforming the way that we run our operations.”

Story Tags:  AnalyticsBest PracticesUSA