Introducing NYPD Patternizr Software
This article provides an overview of the NYPD Patternizr software developed by the New York City Police Department. First, here’s a little bit about the largest police department in the world.
More commonly known as the NYPD, it is the primary law enforcement agency in New York. The department employs more than 35,000 police officers and 19,000 civilians in other positions. Indeed, this is a massive police force, but remember that it is responsible for policing the largest city in the United States, home to more than eight million people. Yet, the city boasts one of the lowest crime rates in the U.S.
Overall, the agency consists of 77 precincts located throughout the city. Structurally, numerous bureaus within the department contain enforcement, investigative, and administrative functions. Visit the official website for more information.
How the Patternizr software works
The New York Police Department (NYPD) uses a pattern-recognizing software tool called Patternizer. The NYPD developed the tool in-house with data scientists and developers over two years. It uses algorithms, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to recognize crime patterns. Industry experts consider the method “predictive policing”, although they consider the practice unfair.
To help “train” the system, the department used more than ten years of patterns identified manually by officers with deep experience. The department began utilizing the tool in 2016 but recently disclosed its use.
The NYPD Patternizr Software tool helps police officers search hundreds of thousands of case files. It helps identify (much more quickly than digging through case files manually) similar cases and crime patterns for ten other cases. Then, it assigns a score between 0 and 1 based on how strongly the software believes the cases match the “seed complaint.” Of course, the officer or analyst must review the results and decide whether or not they are indeed related. Next, if the decision is made to link particular crimes, the analyst refers the crimes to a detective for follow-up. Often, the process helps make connections that officers, detectives, and analysts wouldn’t have otherwise known about.
Types of Information in the Database
- Case files and police reports on millions of crimes
- Crimes include larcenies, robberies, thefts
- Methods of entry (such as in a robbery)
- Types of property or items stolen
- Geographic distance between crimes
As a result, the software helps individual officers and investigative teams work more efficiently. It saves time by automating otherwise manual processes. Ultimately, this helps solve crimes more quickly.
The databases don’t include information on homicides and rapes. Traditional methods are used to identify links and possible relationships in those cases.
Summary of Benefits
The use of the NYPD Patternizr software helps the department in several ways:
- Less busy work. Ultimately, detectives can spend their efforts analyzing the patterns rather than identifying them. This results in less leg work and reduces the time required to solve a case.
- Much greater efficiency. The algorithm helps officers connect and identify patterns across the city rather than just their precinct.
- Makes connections more quickly. The pattern recognition feature makes connecting and identifying linked crimes and incidents easier.
- Broader geographic focus. Using the new system requires the same amount of effort (very little) to search case files in a single precinct, multiple locations, or the entire city.
Other Software Solutions
Although the NYPD was the first department to develop software like this, they shared the information in the INFORMS Journal on Applied Analytics. They did so to help educate other law enforcement organizations on how they may develop similar solutions. The department has a long history of developing its own crime-fighting solutions. The NYPD develop the CompStat computer system. Primarily, CompStat, which is short for comparison statistics, tracks crime geographically. Today, law enforcement departments throughout the United States and Canada use CompStat to examine crime in their area.
Questions and Comments
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