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Edmonton Police Service fights crime with IBM business analytics technology

IBM announced that Canada’s Edmonton Police Service is using IBM business analytics technology to help reduce crime, improve force effectiveness, and increase public safety.

Leading law enforcement agencies like Edmonton are using analytics technology to obtain the right information at the right time—even before a crime may have been committed—to inform police officers so they can stay on top of and prevent criminal activities, identify crime “hot spots” and ultimately reduce crime rates.

In Western Canada, Edmonton Police Services is responsible for policing a regional population with more than 1 million residents. Its primary mandate is to prevent and reduce crime by providing comprehensive public safety services when and where they are most needed. The police service turned to IBM to take advantage of analytics technology to spot crime trends and link performance goals from the executive to the constables on the street.

With business analytics technology, Edmonton police are able to see data in near real time. They put crime information directly into the hands of front-line patrol officers so they can use it to quickly identify problems, associated trends, and locations of crimes to determine their response and problem-solving solutions. The police service has also been able to look at the components of response times, such as dispatch delays and travel time, to identify the issues that play a role in overall response time. With this technology, police are able to monitor performance strategically over time and place, and tactically on a day-by-day and call-by-call basis.

Crime data analytics is increasingly being recognized worldwide as a powerful tool that enables commanders and frontline staff at law enforcement agencies to make sense of millions of historic incident, offense, arrest and call-for-service records to accurately pinpoint crime rates and patterns. The quick access to relevant information is helping enforcement officials work more intelligently and make more timely decisions about crime fighting.

Impacting Arsons by Tracking the Crime Trends through Analytics As a result of employing IBM analytics technology, Edmonton Police Services is able to make more resources available to effectively deal with a potential increase in arson activity. The agency noticed an upward trend in the crime, based on the instant information made available through analytics. By quickly comparing new information with data from previous years, the police service was able to ascertain that the trend was likely to increase from March to July. Police efforts were ultimately successful in nearly eliminating arsons in that particular area during this period.

Recently, the police have begun using analytics reports to inform the public about the crime situation in their neighborhoods. This enables the system to have a direct impact on the public as well. “For us, the bottom line is to prevent crime, and business analytics reporting has helped us accomplish that,” said John Warden, BI project team lead, Edmonton Police Services.

In the future, the force hopes to take advantage of mobile devices to directly disseminate relevant information to officers, regardless of location. “Edmonton Police Services is changing the face of law enforcement,” said Anne Altman, general manager, Global Public Sector, IBM. “With their successful use of analytics, the agency has shown that this advanced technology can be a powerful tool in detecting and preventing crime. IBM is very pleased to be a part of this important initiative.”

Published in Public Safety IT, Nov/Dec 2009

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