Algorithm predicts crime a week in advance

Data and social scientists from the University of Chicago have developed a new algorithm that forecasts crime by learning patterns in time and geographic locations from public data on violent and property crimes. The model can predict future crimes one week in advance with about 90% accuracy.

In a separate model, the research team also studied the police response to crime by analyzing the number of arrests following incidents and comparing those rates among neighborhoods with different socioeconomic status. They saw that crime in wealthier areas resulted in more arrests, while arrests in disadvantaged neighborhoods dropped. Crime in poor neighborhoods didn’t lead to more arrests, however, suggesting bias in police response and enforcement.

“What we’re seeing is that when you stress the system, it requires more resources to arrest more people in response to crime in a wealthy area and draws police resources away from lower socioeconomic status areas,” said Ishanu Chattopadhyay, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Medicine at UChicago and senior author of the new study, which was published this week in Nature Human Behavior.