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Jonathan Erickson

Dr. Dobb's Bloggers

Big Blue Crushes Crime

July 29, 2010

The good news for law-abiding citizens of Memphis, Tennessee, is that the city's police department has teamed up with IBM to fight crime using predictive analytics software. The good news? Yep. Serious crime has been reduced by more than 30 percent, including a 15 percent reduction in violent crimes since 2006.

IBM's SPSS predictive analytics software compiles volumes of crime records in seconds, including incoming data sources from patrols pertaining to type of criminal offense, time of day, day of week, or various victim/offender characteristics.

Predictive software is at the heart of the police department's Blue CRUSH (short for "Crime Reduction Utilizing Statistical History") program, which uses predictive analytics software to analyze past and present information and create multilayer maps of crime "hot spots" based on various arrests and incidents. MPD is able to evaluate incident patterns throughout the city (such as outside of concert venues) or crime trends (such as increased car burglary on rainy nights) and connect the dots. The software lets Blue CRUSH analyze an array of data in areas as wide as the city's entire nine precincts or narrowed down to a single block.

That's the good news. The bad news is that Blue CRUSH can't seem to put a stop to Memphis Beat, a new TV crime show that's a crime to watch. According to its producers, "Memphis Beat centers on Dwight Hendricks (Jason Lee), a quirky Memphis police detective with an intimate connection to the city, a passion for blues music, and a close relationship with his mother."

No worry. Based on my analysis after watching a segment, I predict the show will be canceled before long.

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