Report: Chicago Police Now Using Algorithms To Predict Crime

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The Chicago Police Department recently started testing a number of technologies based on predictive algorithms that allow it to anticipate crimes in certain areas of the city with some degree of certainty, Reuters reported on Saturday. One of the solutions utilized by local officials is called Strategic Subject's List, which is essentially a database of people that may be involved in future shootings. The technology was created by the Illinois Institute of Technology, though its specifics remain unclear.

The HunchLab platform is an equally mysterious solution that's currently utilized by the 7th District, providing officers with predictive software that attempts to anticipate crime based on existing crime records, socioeconomic data, gang affiliation database, weather, and a wide variety of other factors that have been statistically proven to affect crime rates. The vague description of the solution provided by the Chicago authorities implies that it relies on some sort of artificial intelligence (AI), though the local police remain unwilling to detail it much further. HunchLab was confirmed to have been developed by Azavea, a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based software firm that continues to maintain it to this date. The platform relies on eight factors to rate every individual in its database with a score between zero and 500, with the latter implying the highest possible risk that the person will commit a crime, Chicago police revealed.

The existing solutions utilized by the local authorities aren't blindly followed and are simply meant to help the police allocate their resources and manpower more efficiently by deploying officers in areas where they believe a crime is more likely to occur. While similar predictive approaches have been utilized by police forces all over the world for decades, the addition of predictive algorithms and other technologies to the equation allows Chicago authorities to anticipate crimes in a more accurate manner. Another solution utilized by the police in the third most populated city in the United States is a gunfire detection platform developed by ShotSpotter Inc. The system is also currently being utilized by the 7th District, though it's currently unclear how many of its sensors are deployed throughout Chicago. Shootings in the 7th District became less frequent year-on-year after the local authorities started implementing technology into their everyday operations, with the frequency of such crimes dropping by 39 percent in the last 12 months, though the number of murders in the entire Chicago is still on the rise, having increased by three percentage points over the same period.

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