Charleston’s police department is partnering with software giant IBM on a pilot project to better identify trends in armed robberies.
By plugging in a variety of data, including variables such as the season, time of day and even the weather, officials hope to speed up results and uncover weak spots through what the industry calls “predictive analytics.”
“It’s difficult to take that information and analyze it through human methods,” Police Chief Greg Mullen said today in announcing the effort.
A typical pattern to be uncovered for armed robberies might be whether they are more often occurring around gas stations or convenience stores, he said, and what day of the week or time is most popular.
Field reports, maps and even video recordings will be part of the evaluation process.
“Anything that you can pull together that will have a bearing on a particular crime,” Mullen said.
Eventually, the department wants to broaden the scope of the project to conduct other crimes and “hotspots.” For example, it could be applied to burglaries, which often “cluster” in terms of time and location.
Burglars also tend to have predictable patterns, usually favoring place nears their homes or in familiar locations, police said.
Gary Nester of IBM said the beauty of such a system is that it can assemble seemingly unrelated activities “and bring them together.”
Charleston joins the ranks of such large cities as New York, Las Vegas, Memphis, Los Angeles and Vancouver in taking advantage of technology to establish what are being called “smarter cities.” The cost is still being worked out.