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How Data is Giving Police an Edge

How Data is Giving Police an Edge

I went for coffee recently with a friend who is in the police force. At one point we began talking about the innovative ways forces around the country are using data.

Like those in many other industries and sectors – telesales and football, for example — he spoke about how the police are making use of data to prioritise where to deploy resources and help make better decisions.

Intrigued about this use of data, I looked deeper into what the police are doing to see how it compares to how our clients use Red Flag Alert’s data. I found that, despite the obvious differences between B2B sales and the police, there are, nonetheless, similarities in the way data is used.

First, here is a look at some of the ways I found police forces to be using data.

Predicting Crime Hotspots

This article by The Independent describes how predictive crime mapping is already widely used in the UK.

According to the article, the technology uses past data on metrics such as where and when crimes have occurred, as well as the type of offence, to generate a map identifying where transgressions are likely to take place in the future.

The main benefit of this appears fairly obvious. The technology should allow police to more effectively decide where officers should patrol and what they should be on the lookout for.

In theory, this would help reduce the likeliness of crime occurring in dangerous areas while ensuring police resources are used effectively.  

Predicting Reoffending Rates

In this article, Wired describes how police in the UK have been using a tool called the Harm Assessment Risk Tool (HART) that uses artificial intelligence to predict whether suspects are at a low, medium, or high risk of reoffending.

This tool uses data, including biographical information such as a person’s age and gender, as well as information about their crimes, to rate the chance of them reoffending.

Early tests found that when the tool said a suspect was low risk, it was accurate 98% of the time, while forecasts saying they were high risk were accurate 88% of the time.

Police forces can use this data to help when making decisions, such as when to keep a suspect in custody for longer or whether to allow them out on bail. It’s important to emphasise that the algorithm alone is not used to make decisions.

Unsurprisingly, the HART system hasn’t been without controversy. Specifically, the use of a suspect’s postcode as part of the algorithm came under fire due to fears it could reinforce existing biases and discriminate against those with poorer backgrounds.

Not All that Different from Red Flag Alert?

What is interesting to me are the similarities in the way police forces use the data and the way businesses can harness the business intelligence provided by Red Flag Alert. Specifically both sets of data are used to avoid risk, effectively allocate resources and spot trends.

Allows Identification of Risk

The first similarity is that both systems are used to identify risk while the police system can be used to judge which areas are likely to be crime hotspots at certain times or who may be at a larger risk of reoffending.

Red Flag Alert helps users see which companies could be risky to trade with. By identifying risk quickly and efficiently, data helps users concentrate on managing the situation. If the police know an area is high risk, they can spend time working on strategies to manage the situation and then monitor to see if these efforts have any impact.

More Effective Allocation of Resources

All organisations have limited resources – knowing how to allocate these effectively is a huge advantage.  

The police can access their data to create a list of where crimes may occur, allowing them to deploy officers to these high-risk areas. Businesses, on the other hand, can use data to help sales teams become more effective by finding better leads or speed up the client onboarding process.

Save Manual Work

The final similarity is in the way the tools can be used to save manual work. Instead of police officers trawling through data to decide where crimes may occur the algorithm does it automatically, allowing officers to focus on other parts of their job.

Likewise, sales professionals with access to B2B data no longer have to spend time searching for metrics about a company – they can pull up critical real-time information at the click of a button.

To see how Red Flag Alert can help your business manage risk and accelerate growth, send me a message on LinkedIn or give me a call on 0344 412 6699.

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