Police around the world are using technology to anticipate here the bad guys will strike next.
A decade ago, Bogotá had a bad name. Violent crime was out of control. Rather than buying more guns or patrol cars, Bogotá’s cops went for something bigger: science. The city began superimposing millions of police bulletins onto digitized city maps to pinpoint which bandits were at work and where, down to the doorstep. By displaying crime data on easy-toread city maps, police were able to target urban hot spots and optimize street patrols. Murders have since fallen by a third in the past five years and the police’s approval rating has soared. “Crime mapping has made us faster and more efficient,” says Gen. Luiz Alberto Gómez, head of Bogotá Metropolitan Police. “We are serving the neighborhoods better.”
So are police in several countries, as the virtues of high-tech crimefighting become clear. Spiking crime rates everywhere from Colombia to Brazil, India to South Africa, have encouraged more and more cops to draw on technology to anticipate where criminals are going to strike next, so their thinly stretched forces can be at the right place at the right time. “Without computerized crime analysis,” says Alexandre Peres, a government security strategist in Pernambuco, northeast Brazil, “policing is guesswork.”
The trend goes back to the early 1990s, when New York City police started using CompStat, a computerdriven mapping tool. In the next decade or so, violent crimes tumbled by 70 percent; the city now ranks 222nd in the country in crime. Major cities across the United States and Europe followed New York’s lead, and now the rest of the world is catching on.
(Newsweek, April 24, 2006)
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