PredPol Is Not Minority Report: It Doesn’t Focus on Individuals
Too often when people hear the phrase predictive policing, they think of the film Minority Report. In the film, crimes are predicted by a group of clairvoyants, and individuals are arrested on the basis that they will commit the crime. But PredPol is nothing like Minority Report.
First, PredPol predicts where and when a crime is most likely to occur, not who is likely to commit a crime. Because no personal data, information about individuals or demographics are utilized in making these predictions, PredPol’s technology does not pose any personal privacy or profiling concerns.
Next, predictions are made using a unique algorithm based on three simple data points: Place, time and date of past crimes. This data exists to efficiently guide law enforcement patrols and lower crime through intelligent, community policing methods. PredPol’s most successful deployment results occur when agencies advise patrol to maintain visibility in predicted areas as they respond to daily calls.
Finally, the patterns inherent in the crimes themselves provide ample information to predict which places and windows of time are at highest risk for future crimes. This is the basic theory of predictive policing: a lot of crime is not random. For example, home burglaries are relatively predictable. When a house gets robbed, the likelihood of that house or houses near it getting robbed again spikes in the following days. Using this prediction methodology, crimes are separated from individuals, and a visible law enforcement presence can be an effective deterrent of subsequent crimes.