by Rebecca Merrett

NSW Police Force sees opportunities in predictive analytics

May 30, 20144 mins
Big Data

NSW Police CIO, Chris Robson, sees opportunities for the force to use predictive analytics to fight crime.

“The idea is if you’ve got a full history of crime-related activity… you can use that to predict on a short time scale – say the next shift, or even certain time periods in the next shift – if you need to deploy resources proactively,” he told CIO Australia at an Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) event today.

Fire and Rescue NSW CIO, Richard Host at CeBIT announced he was tapping into predictive data models and machine learning to better prepare resources before emergency situations occur.

Robson gave examples of how police forces in the United States are effectively using predictive analytics, with most of the capability being borne out of universities.

“In the case of LA [Los Angeles] Police Department, a product they use there came from mathematicians at the University of California who were trying to predict the location of earthquake aftershocks. They applied very similar algorithms to being able to predict where future crime might occur based on where previous crime had occurred.

“In Chicago, they had Carnegie Melon working with them. These were logistics and supply chain algorithms that ended up helping them look at patterns of activity of minor crime to determine which of those might build up into major crime.

“So this software is able to say, for example, ‘I can see a pattern of escalating violence in a particular region, which means we need to deploy more resource proactively now to prevent what might end up being a homicide’.”

Moving data to a relational database

As part of NSW Police Force’s COPS modernisation program, Robson said he is moving the organisation’s data to a relational database so that analysis, reports and forms can be produced much more easily.

“We are just in the final throws of setting into production a product called tcVISION. What tcVISION does is it takes out natural data, transforms it and it ends up sitting in an Exadata, in Oracle Database Appliance. The purpose of that exercise is for analysis and reports, population of forms – it’s so much easier to produce that kind of capability quickly if you’ve got a regular relational database in the back end,” he said.

“It’s also provided us with some search capabilities that were very difficult to do in with the mainframe.”

Robson said tcVISION is just an interim tool for when he completes the refactoring of some of the key functionality within the mainframe.

“We have got nothing against mainframes, but we probably have something against the older generation programming languages that the mainframe applications are written in.”

By having replaced its old legacy mainframe, and making it easier to produce forms and reports, Robson said this will help enable the move to a mobile workforce.

“Our old legacy systems were developed to be delivered on a desktop. But police forces, they are field force organisations,” Robson said.

Read: Legacy systems – love them or leave them?.

In September last year, Robson undertook a four-week trial of a mobile app that automatically processes infringement notices so that police officers don’t have to manually record it on paper and then key the data into a system when they get back to the office. Forty officers were equipped with iPad Minis.

Read: Melbourne Water pushes mobile out into the field.

“At the end of the process, the person that they have just issued the infringement notice to would give them the option to get that infringement via SMS, email or a letter sent their home address.”

The mobile app and the middleware were developed by Gridstone. Telstra provided the Mi-Fi to connect the middleware to Amazon Web Services’ cloud.

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