Life’s becoming a little more difficult for lawbreakers, thanks to some new digital technologies. For example, British researchers have developed a fingerprint compression technology that transmits prints from a crime scene to a fingerprint bureau in a fraction of the typical four to 20 minutes. The same researchers are working on a technology to identify shoe impressions taken from crime scenes-a procedure currently done manually.
Police in Richmond, Virginia, are introducing data mining, predictive analysis and business intelligence tools to respond more rapidly to a crime, and possibly to prevent future crime from occurring. LAPD police are using video surveillance and criminal recognition software to get a bird’s-eye view of activities in a crime-riddled area.
Various technologies are gaining prominence, such as the somewhat controversial but highly regarded CompStat. CompStat assists law enforcement organizations in collecting and organizing crime information quickly. This, in turn, allows officials to identify emerging patterns in criminal activity, and allows police agencies to deploy resources more effectively.
According to BlogHouston.net , proponents describe this technology as an “advanced statistical analysis of crime aimed at preventing future crime.”
This award-winning program is said to have reduced crime rates through increased police accountability. Various law enforcement agencies across the United States, including the NYPD and the LYPD, use this program to analyze data and plan crime-prevention tactics. The program apparently played a key role in the well-documented reduction in crime enjoyed by New York City under the hand of former mayor Rudy Giuliani.
In With the Old
Sometimes harnessing the power of crime-fighting technologies involves using older technologies in new and inventive ways. For example, in late 2006, New York City announced plans to equip 911 call centers to receive digital images and digital videos sent from cell phones and computers. When citizens report a crime in progress, they can simultaneously send pictures or video of the crime scene, the perpetrator or the victim.
The digital imagery provides emergency response workers and law enforcement teams with a better understanding of the situation, and is likely to offer information not provided by panicked callers. The response teams can therefore better access the preferred approach to handling the incident. Empowering citizens to use everyday technology in this way was a world first, according to Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
In a similar vein, the New York City is combating domestic violence in part through the MapInfo Professional mapping software application. This tool allows law enforcement personnel to better visualize relationships between data and geography.
The city is also using MapInfo’s Mapmaker tool for mapping and analyzing data and adding geographic coordinates to database records. A city spokesperson reported that he had imported miscellaneous, city-based data-such as roadmaps, English proficiency ratings and homicide rates-into MapInfo, and then overlaid that over a map of the city to display patterns and trends.
The information generated by these tools assists the city in deciding how resources should be allocated. It also reveals information about an area’s cultural makeup and languages most often spoken in that community. Knowing where domestic violence victims live and the language they speak allows law enforcement officers to better communicate with victims.
These and other forensic technologies translate into real-life success stories that impact upon our lives in ways we could not have imagined 20 years ago. For example, in San Jose in October, a man driving a stolen Toyota kidnapped a 12-year-old girl. The girl escaped and reported the incident to the police. The kidnapper abandoned the Toyota. Some hours later, a patrol car using license-plate recognition technology passed the Toyota. “Stolen car” remarked the technology’s computer-generated voice. The police officer discovered evidence in the Toyota that led to the arrest of the kidnapper.