Taking an IT Bite out of Crime

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There's an old saw about there never being a cop around when you need one. Like most cliches, this one is unfair to our local police departments, but the fact of the matter is that there are only so many patrol cars to go around.

Now, local police departments have become a lot more sophisticated over the years in terms of tracking where crimes happen and how to deploy their limited resources. For example, IBM formally announced today that it is working with the Edmonton Police Service in Canada to leverage analytics software from its Cognos business units to come as close as possible to tracking crimes in near real time.

Armed with this data, the Edmonton Police Service is then dynamically deploying officers and other emergency services based on information that is updated to the minute, rather than on information based on reports that could be anywhere from a few days to even weeks old.

The Edmonton Police Service, which serves a large geographical area with more than 1 million residents, is using the IBM Cognos software to instantly identify criminal patterns, such a recent rash of robberies and an arson spree.

While using this type of information is nothing new for most metropolitan police forces, being able to get fresh data out to police officers in a matter of minutes significantly helps reduce the amount of time it takes to ultimately find a perpetrator.

The Edmonton Police Service use of analytics is another example of how the entire way we think about using information is transforming as the gap between when we collect data and our ability to meaningfully analyze it continues to narrow. And as we all know, the difference between winning and losing more often than not comes down to who gets there first.