New York City Turns to Big Data to Make Its Streets Safe

Big Data

Skyline of New York City. / Photo by: Free-Photos via Pixabay


Big data and analytics are being used by the New York Police Department to protect and serve the city’s residents. The NYPD is accessing data from previously unconnected sources to identify crime threats, solve criminal cases, and prevent potential crimes, according to Soumik Roy, writing for TechHQ. 

The data come from emails, video and chat files, fingerprints and personal information from police investigations, license and registration records from the department of motor vehicles, and other public databases – including conditional access to information from the Internal Revenue Service.

The NYPD will then employ relevant algorithms in identifying crime trends and patterns that would not be possible if they were using traditional methods and techniques. It was so successful in using big data and analytics that other police organizations, such as the Los Angeles Police Department, is also using big data and analytics to keep the residents of their city safe. After the LAPD started using PredPol in 2016, it was able to prevent twice as much crime as human crime analysts. 

Lately, both the NYPD and the LAPD have turned to Plantir, a Silicon Valley startup that analyzes data for law enforcement agencies. However, the technology-driven process employed by law enforcement agencies called “data policing” is seen unfavorably by some quarters because algorithms protected by law make it difficult to analyze results and increase the risk of racial bias. But it is really hard to dislike data policing because the results it has provided have been excellent. Moreover, experts believe it is the wave of the future, together with artificial intelligence and machine learning.