Grant to Support Crime Prediction Research

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(From left) Researchers Saurabh Pandey, Jeremy Carter, George Mohler and Rajeev Raje (photo courtesy IU Communications) (From left) Researchers Saurabh Pandey, Jeremy Carter, George Mohler and Rajeev Raje (photo courtesy IU Communications)

The National Science Foundation's Smart and Connected Communities program has awarded a three-year, nearly $800,000 grant to researchers at IUPUI. The university says the grant will help develop a system to predict crime and other social harms.

The project, being led by George Mohler and Rajeeve Raje at IUPUI's School of Science and Jeremy Carter, director of criminal justice at the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at IUPUI, will create algorithms and software to collect and analyze crime data. The researchers say police forces and city governments will be able to use the analyses to make informed decisions on allocated resources to address these social harms.

"Police don't only deal with crimes; they deal with many social harms," said Mohler. "Our new NSF-funded project embraces the bigger picture of policing, and of smart cities in general. There are all sorts of patterns for which we can develop algorithms to detect, weigh their importance and come up with risk scores that can be used to allocate resources effectively."

The researchers will work with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, Indianapolis Emergency Medical Services, Mayor Joe Hogsett's office and other community partners to estimate the probability of certain events and the effects of specific actions.

"What we are predicting is the dynamic risk of social harm events. If we put quantified risk behind prevention, we can play the odds and hopefully position police, EMS and others in the right places at the times when social harms are most likely to occur," said Carter. "Crime, drug usage and motor vehicle crashes concentrate in time and place and are to some degree predictable because people have routine activities."

The university says the final phase of the project will include a field trial in Indianapolis, which will measure the impact of allocating specific resources to locations during times of peak need across crime, traffic crashes and EMS calls. It will also measure changes in community trust in police in high-risk communities.

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