4 Ways Police & DHS Use Predictive Software to Fight Crime
Use of predictive software in police departments across the nation have changed the way criminal investigations are conducted.
Two years ago, then New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and police commissioner Raymond Kelly collaborated with Microsoft to create pre-crime and counterterrorism technology to aid federal intelligence and local law enforcement agencies domestic and international.
The product of that union, the domain awareness system (DAS) has become a sophisticated software technology that aggregates and analyzes public information in real time that will produce comprehensive reports to be used by NYPD to ascertain potential threats and pre-crime activity.
By utilizing smart cameras and license plate readers, combined with Microsoft technologies NYPD personnel can search suspects, allegedly suspicious packages, and any other information at their disposal to control possible criminal action in NY.
Graphical interface, environmental sensors and law enforcement databases will be interlaced so that crime analysis can effectively allocate proper man-power and improve response to potential situations. This creates a collusion of information for the NYPD to use in real-time.
Over 3,000 CCTV cameras will be connected to the DAS that are spread throughout NYC.
As part of the agreement, 30% of the revenue on Microsoft’s future sales of DAS will be redirected to fund more pre-crime efforts by NYC. In addition, the NYPD will confer with Microsoft on their use of the DAS and any innovative revisions of the software that comes from real-time use. This shared knowledge is meant to consistently improve the technology; which makes the NYPD a beta-testing ground for the future of Big Brother surveillance technology.
The real-time analytics and situational awareness DAS generates is touted to improve public safety for New York residents. The New York Wireless Network, which is a high-speed, mission-critical wireless broadband infrastructure, will aid DAS to extend the ability of officers to survey average citizens on the streets.
The DAS will allow the NYPD to:
• Gain real-time access to video feeds and all citizens arrest records as well as any 911 call wherein the potential suspect was named
• Chronological and geospatial maps of citizen’s criminal history and patterns
• Track cars related or associated with potential suspects
• Retrieve information from various databases for appropriate deployment of resources
• Review video feeds where potentially harmful packages are delivered
• Connection to radiation detectors throughout the city and immediately alert the Lower Manhattan Security Initiative command center
Just last year, in Washington State, the federally-funded predictive cloud-based software PREDPOL will be assisting police departments in Tacoma and Seattle.
PREDPOL utilizes mathematical algorithms based on five years of sociological data on citizens such as criminal behavior and records accessible online to predict future crimes that could be committed by a targeted individual. The ability of the police department to predict crime in real-time has been “successfully tested by officers in the field.” According to the website, PREDPOL “tell law enforcement what is coming.”
Based on PREDPOL, officers can be “briefed at roll call on the highest-probability “hot spots” for that day and devote extra attention to those areas—as much as fifteen minutes every two hours.”
This software is “accessible from any tech device” to generate “actionable predictions”. PREDPOL requires “key card protocols, biometric scanning and round-the-clock interior and exterior surveillance” to access the data processing facilities.
Developed in 2005, PREDPOL was beta-tested at the Los Angeles Police Department.
In July of 2011, the Santa Cruz Police Department successfully used PREDPOL to predict car and home burglaries.
Zach Friend, criminal analyst for the Santa Cruz Police Department, explained: “We’re facing a situation where we have 30 percent more calls for service but 20 percent less staff than in the year 2000, and that is going to continue to be our reality. So we have to deploy our resources in a more effective way, and we thought this model would help.”
The Blue Criminal Reduction Utilizing Statistical History (CRUSH) was developed in 2006 by the University of Memphis. The predictive analytical software was created with an IBM program that could determine “hot spots” for more rapid deployment of police officers.
The Real Time Crime Center allows police officers to scan a particular area. A red flashing light will appear to signal that a crime may happen within the near future.
CRUSH combines “crime and arrest data, then combining it with weather forecasts, economic indicators, and information on events such as paydays and concerts” to produce predictive results.
The ArcGIS System for law enforcement compiles information from the internet, cell phones, online mapping services and the geographic information system (GIS) servers.
Connections to national and international databases centers down predictive possibilities in individual communities through intelligence and operational analysis.
In the interest of fighting terrorism, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) created the Future Attribute Screening Technology project (FAST) that utilizes sensor technology to detect cues “indicative of mal-intent” defined as intent or desire to cause real harm.
By monitoring psychological and behavioral cues that are entered into real-time algorithms FAST can predict the probability of a crime being committed by any person.
FAST was reported to be 70% accurate, according to field test research. However, the conclusions of the study are deceptive and reliant on the researcher’s foreknowledge of the intent of the individual being monitored.
In a DHS privacy impact assessment, FAST was tested on volunteers that were pre-sorted into groups wherein one group was “explicitly instructed to carry out a disruptive act, so that the researchers and the participant (but not the experimental screeners) already know that the participant has mal-intent.”
This fact lends to the strong possibility that FAST could be used to generate false positives that would make criminals out of average Americans.