Predicting crime before it happens, is it possible? If the possibility exists, then how is it accomplished?
“Pre-crime” and “predictive policing”, monikers for forecasting criminal behavior and future crimes, are growing techniques being used more frequently by cities, states and national law enforcement agencies.
Advanced technologies are being enlisted in the predictive policing law enforcement arena, with the purpose being “to identify people who are a risk to the state down the road based on the information we know about the individual.”
Consider the following advances in the “pre-crime” arena:
A new program in the state of Louisiana, the Comprehensive Person Profile, has been assembled to compile details on all residents to identify any “individual who is going to be at risk of incarceration down the road,” or in other ways be a problem.
The state envisions a time when according the Louisiana Rep. Chris Broadwater,” we can take all the information we have and create that comprehensive person profile that makes the lives of our citizens better.”
According to Broadwater, the program would allow the state to “intervene” in the lives of persons, (based on the comprehensive database), who might pose a threat to the state.
The program, originally begun to combat fraudulent use of state entitlement programs, has ballooned into a system designed to mine the data of every Louisiana citizen and share the data throughout every state agency.
Surprisingly, Twitter posts, may be used to predict crimes before they are committed.
A study conducted by the University of Virginia, funded by the US Army, and reported in the revealed that the analysis of geo-tagged tweets can be useful in predicting 19 to 25 kinds of crimes, especially for offences such as stalking, thefts and certain kinds of assault.
Although people rarely tweet about crimes directly, tweets about routine activities and environments may supply information directly linked to future crimes, according to lead researcher Matthew Gerber of the University’s Predictive Technology Lab.
For the study, Gerber and his associates analyzed tweets from the City of Chicago that were tagged to certain neighborhoods and the city’s crime database.
Based on the information obtained, the researchers were able to predict areas where crimes might be committed.
“This approach allows the analyst to visualize and identify areas with historically high crime rates.” states Gerber. According to researchers, Twitter is fairly easy to use because tweets are publically available and often tagged with the location.
Additionally, researchers do not need to go to the area of the crime. Algorithms are sent to a computer which learns the pattern and predicts the crimes.
“Future crimes often occur in the vicinity of past crimes; making hot-spot maps a valuable crime prediction tool.”
Direct observation is also taking on a predictive” pre-crime” approach.
Surveillance cameras installed in places like train stations or public buildings scan passersby to see if they are” acting suspiciously.”
Using a range of built-in parameters of what is ‘normal’ the cameras then send a text message to a human guard to issue an alert – or call them, if a person displays suspicious behavior.
Manufacturer, BRS Labs, said it has installed the cameras at tourist attractions, government buildings and military bases in the U.S and locations outside the US.
BRS Labs says that the cameras have ‘the capability to learn from what they observe’, by building up a database of suspicious behaviors thus having a “memory” of conduct considered dubious.
Each camera has a series of virtual ‘trip wires’ and if activated they send an alert out to a human supervisor.
The relevant clip of footage is then sent over the Internet to human employees, along with a text message informing them of more details.
DNA profiling and biometric testing are also being used to predict likelihood of criminal behavior.
Governments such as the UK, United Arab Emirates, and yes, the US have passed legislation to legalize the acquisition of DNA samples from those arrested for crimes and in the case of the UAE, from all their citizens.
Perhaps the most comprehensive of these “pre-crime” programs is FAST, Future Attribute Screening Technology, developed by the US Department of Homeland Security, monitors “psychological and physiological” indicators to predict “Mal-Intent”. The program boasts an 80% rate of detection.
Heart rate, blink rate, body and eye movements, body heat changes, breathing patterns, as well as voice modulation changes and inotations, are all used to create statistical algorithms to indicate criminal activity.
Based on response to these indicators, a person can be deported, arrested, and imprisoned.
And possibly the strangest “pre-crime” detector:
Reportedly, U.S. Department of Homeland Security has released harmless (?) bacteria into subway systems to act as biological weapons detectors.
Is “predictive policing” another step toward a totalitarian, police state?
I believe we are all about to find out what it felt like to be a Jew in Nazi Germany.