IBM’s Jeopardy! winning supercomputer, Watson, has proven to be one of the most intelligent machines ever created. Not only can this computer answer complex questions better than humans, it can also use sophisticated analytics to analyze about 200 million pages of content in about 3 seconds and come up with a solution for almost any problem or question asked of it.
But the real value of Watson is not in answering questions on a game show for kicks, but instead that it could be used to help our society by answering questions that can have a real impact on people’s lives. For instance, Watson can be supplied with relevant police and criminal data and use it to answer questions such as “where are our crime hot spots?,” or “what are the contributing factors that trigger domestic violence disturbances?”
By getting answers to such questions when it matters, and not months or weeks after the fact, police can use these answers to respond to and prevent crime much better than what was humanly possible before. By analyzing the data in real time, Watson can tell police where to expect a lot of crime to occur during certain events, forecast criminal trends, and even analyze behavior to instantly locate criminal activities.
With access to this technology, police can not only effectively catch more criminals, but they can dramatically reduce the amount of crime happening in the first place. An example of this type of technology already in use is shown by the Memphis Police Department and its use of predictive analytics to locate criminal hot spots and effectively send more resources to those areas. Since they started using this technology, the Memphis PD has reported a a 31 % reduction in crime, including a 15.4 % reduction in violent crime.
Hopefully as this technology becomes more widespread and easier to implement, more police departments will start to use it to help solve and prevent crime in the first place.