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IUPUI Researchers Working On System To Predict Crime

Police car lights.

Photo: Steve Burns

The researchers are building algorithms and software that picks up on patterns, like a large number of assaults occurring in areas with lots of bars.

Researchers at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis are developing and testing a program to predict crime and other social harms, including traffic crashes, drug abuse and medical emergencies.

“Currently police have a lot of things they have to deal with,” says School of Sciences Professor George Mohler. “A lot of us when we think of what police do on a day-to-day basis, they fight crime, or they try to prevent crime. But they also deal with a lot of other types of events that we would call social harms.”

The researchers are building algorithms and software that picks up on patterns, like a large number of assaults occurring in areas with lots of bars.

“Hopefully [we'll] take algorithms that find those patterns and then tell police and other community members when and where to be to prevent those sorts of events,” Mohler says.

To design the application they will collaborate with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and Emergency Medical Services. Graduate students will help write the software, which will help first responders know where to focus their attention, Mohler says.

“If I am either a police officer or maybe a first respondent for emergencies, and I’m about to go on my shift, I might have a tool that will tell me, for the first hour of my shift … this is where you want to be and you want to focus maybe on this social harm,” he says.

The project will be funded with the help of a $791,513 grant from the National Science Foundation. Mohler says they hope to do a trial run of the software in the spring of 2019.

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