Canada Uses IBM BI Software to Fight Crime

IBM on Tuesday announced that the police department of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada is now using the business analytics software designed to drive corporate revenue and profits to reduce crime and improve the department’s overall efficiency.

IBM (NYSE: IBM) officials said police servicing the one million-plus people in the western Canadian city will now be able to see data in “near real time,” giving them the ability to identify crime “hot spots,” track and manage dispatch delays and travel time and pinpoint trends and locations of specific crimes and criminals.

“Twenty-first century police services such as Edmonton are using business analytics to modernize the face of crime fighting,” said Anne Altman, general manager of IBM’s global public sector, said in a statement. “Our police services need relevant information, and they need it immediately.”

The software incorporates elements of IBM Cognos 8 BI and IBM Cognos Data Manager, two key business intelligence components garnered from its $5 billion Cognos acquisition in January 2008.

IBM also acquired Chicago-based SPSS for $1.2 billion in July. IBM plans to incorporate both Cognos and SPSS applications as part of its new Smart Analytics System portfolio.

Police in several communities have been using the SPSS predictive analytics software for years, taking full advantage of the text mining, data collection and statistics applications needed to anticipate criminal behavior and quickly analyze massive amounts of incident data.

For example, the Memphis, Tenn. Police Department said it managed to reduce robberies by 80 percent in the past year at one specific hot spot identified by the software. The department analyzed crime patters and trend maps and then deployed officers through directed patrol routes and special task forces to raise their visibility in the hot spot and investigate suspicious people and their behavior before the robberies occurred.

“We are now able to better use our resources to address the needs of our citizens and more effectively fight crime,” said Larry Godwin, director of the Memphis Police Department in a statement. “[The software] has also allowed MPD to improve communication with policymakers and our citizens concerning crime in the city and our efforts to address it.”

Richmond, Va. and Macon, Ga. have also seen immediate returns from the analytics software. Richmond police claim it’s helped reduce the city’s murder rate by 30 percent in the past two years and rapes by 20 percent.

IBM is hoping businesses and police departments will see the value of its Smart Business Analytics software, both in improving profits and conviction rates but also in reducing data management and analysis costs.

According to the U.S. Conference of Mayors, federal funding for local police budgets has been chopped by more than 81 percent since 2001, further increasing the pressure on police departments to deploy their officers and equipment in as cheap and efficient ways as possible.

“For us, the bottom line is to prevent crime, and business analytics reporting has helped us accomplish that,” said John Warden, business intelligence project team lead, Edmonton Police Services, in a statement.

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