Keeping the public safe with analytics


Analytics has an important role to play in supporting the police to keep our communities safe, and I believe the benefits can be far-reaching. In my previous three posts, I discussed the role analytics can play in policing, reviewed the required data and highlighted a police force that is currently developing its own bespoke solutions.

Where analytics can help

These are the key areas where analytics can help:

  • Helping forces make the most of the diminishing resources available to them.
  • Using technologies such as facial recognition or social network analysis to combat crime and improve efficiency.
  • Making evidence-based decisions to support the management of police resources.
  • Understanding the impact of policing activity and how to best serve communities.

In this post, I will explore the potentially dark side of analytics and outline my views on how analytics should be used to ensure success and maximise potential.

For me policing analytics can be split into two broad areas:

  • Resource and demand analytics includes forecasting, demand planning and prediction. This type of analytics assists with the management of police resources, both in real time and for future planning.
  • Investigative and detection analytics uses the proliferation of data now available to solve and prevent crime through alerting, modelling, risk scoring and threat prediction. Using the latest analytical tools, we can expand this to include functionalities such as facial recognition or criminal pathway analysis. This also helps police understand when and how to intervene to prevent the entrance into criminality.

Hidden Insights: Keeping the public safe with analyticsResource and demand analytics

Resource and demand analytics should be used with care. Like all disruptive technologies, these techniques can significantly affect the way the workforce looks and moves. This will raise concerns over the impact on jobs, skills and employment. It is therefore essential to use analytics in an open and transparent way, ensuring that police services can explain and account for their decisions.

It’s also important to conduct impact assessments and ethical reviews to make sure analytics is used in a way that is conducive to a positive work environment. Both communities and the workforce need to understand why police use analytics and its positive impact.

Investigative and detection analytics

Police should recognize the risks of using investigative and detection analytics. This type of analytics needs to be used with caution to ensure accurate decisions. Critics have pointed out bias in some predictive policing models; for example, those that focus on very specific locations may discriminate against certain groups of people.

A recent UK article questioned the role of analytics and called for a strict examination of its usage. The only solution is to use an analytical platform that has a wide range of capabilities and empowers police forces to use their professional judgment. Police forces have the best understanding of their data, the policing processes involved, and the environmental and community factors that are contributing to it. This ensures open and ethical development of analytics for policing and reduces the risk of bias.

#Police should recognize the risks of using investigative and detection #analytics. This type of analytics needs to be used with caution to ensure accurate #decisions. Click To Tweet

The importance of flexibility

The requirements and demands of the community are continually changing, as will the focus of the police. If analytics is to support the police, it also needs to be adaptable. This means moving away from black-box analytical solutions to an open analytical platform.

The SAS Platform and suite of solutions – using all the available data – will give the police service full control of these processes. Police services can then use their expertise, experience and knowledge to maximise the impact of analytics to improve the lives of citizens and local communities. It’s important that the platform can give users access to a range of analytical capabilities and techniques in a simple and user-friendly interface across the force, including mobile usage.

Resource and demand analytics used in an open and accountable way will ensure predictive resource and demand management will improve workforce deployment and morale. Investigative and detection analytics will deliver a reduction in crime with an increased detection capability.

This will ultimately lead to an improvement in the effectiveness of a police service to serve its community.

Find out more by joining our webinar on Wednesday, 10 July, at 2:00 p.m. GMT – Analytics in Policing: Informing Decision Making, Identifying Risk, Automating Processes and Improving Performance.


About Author

Andy Davies

Andy worked as a police analyst for nearly 10 years and was involved in data migration, software adoption, data quality and business intelligence projects. Since leaving the police Andy has been helping customers across the public sector (healthcare, government, and policing) develop their use of analytics and intelligence using SAS.

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