Prior to the 2016 Rio Olympics, the Igarapé Institute developed rio.CrimeRadar, a digital platform that used machine learning to predict crime rates in different neighborhoods at different times. The platform was soft launched to the public during the Rio Olympics, in August of that year, and focused on the city’s metropolitan area. CrimeRadar drew on over five years of crime data collected by the Rio de Janeiro state police to determine relative crime risks for the upcoming week. The app was conceived and developed by Igarapé Institute, associated with Via Science and Mosaico.
Notice – the rio.CrimeRadar.org algorithm and data are currently not being updated, and forecasts will tend to lose relevance over time.
Research shows that violent crime and property crime are not only highly concentrated in specific locations (or ‘hotspots’), but also tend to occur at predictable intervals. There is strong evidence that if crime can be prevented at those hotspots, then total crime in the city can also be reduced.
CrimeRadar can integrate existing GPS location data of officers provided by the department. From a dashboard, commanders can visualize real-time maps with the positions of officers and the locations where the probability of crime is highest. Alternatively, where GPS data is not available, an accompanying smartphone application can be provided to track the location of officers. The solution can be used as an affordable option to track the locations of patrol cars, fire cars, and ambulances.
By increasing situational awareness, CrimeRadar can improve Police resource allocation, contributing to:
The Igarapé Institute has formalized a collaboration with the Military Police of Santa Catarina, Brazil, and with researchers from the University of Warwick, UK, to develop and pilot a police-facing CrimeRadar tool to assist in the planning of operations, aiming to optimize the allocation of policing resources.
CrimeRadar pilots are ongoing in 2019 in selected cities in Santa Catarina. A Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT) will be implemented in 2020 to assess the effectiveness of CrimeRadar in the planning of police patrol itineraries and scheduled operations. Changes in crime levels, average police response times, and public trust in the police will be assessed. The study results will be published in academic journals, and showcased on a roundtable with specialists in criminology, civil rights, digital rights, and other related fields.
What is more, the Institute has secured resources to replicate the CrimeRadar initiative in South Africa, starting in 2019. The project will involve two phases: (i) developing and piloting the app with a Metropolitan Police and (ii) scaling up the initiative with up to five pilots in Brazil, South Africa, and other locations.
CrimeRadar will be made available to other police departments upon request. To use the tool, departments must comply with minimum transparency and reporting standards. The Institute will support the departments to make sure that the standards are met.
The requirements are laid out below, along with the Primary Accountable Institution (PAI). These requirements follow the recommendations from the FAT/ML work group: