PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 3 (UPI) -- Pennsylvania company Azavea will develop advanced crime risk forecasting capabilities under a Small Business Innovation Research Phase IIB grant.
The grant from the National Science Foundation for developing the capability within the company's HunchLab system totals $216,000.
HunchLab is a Web-based geographic crime data analysis and early warning software system that provides advanced crime mapping and automated notification to authorities about changes in the geographic patterns of crime incidents.
The system is targeted at the law enforcement agencies and enables police officers to develop and evaluate hunches about geographic patterns in criminal activity in the communities they patrol.
Azavea said it is collaborating with Dr. Jerry Ratcliffe from Temple University, a leading expert in statistical crime analysis who has worked with academic colleagues to develop statistical techniques for detecting "near repeat" patterns in crime.
Ratcliffe has discovered that certain types of crime exhibit a "contagion" effect. For instance, a burglary incident will result in an elevated risk that subsequent burglaries will occur within a couple of blocks and weeks following the original event.
This elevated risk can be measured and used by law enforcement officials to deploy resources more effectively.
Azavea said it is building on Ratcliffe's work to make this forecasting technique available within HunchLab. Two additional crime pattern forecasting techniques, focused on seasonal variations in crime and daily workload forecasts, are also under development as well as enhancements to the early warning system to support real-time visualization, animation and heat maps.
"We're excited to be working with leading criminologists and geographers to implement cutting-edge risk forecasting research in HunchLab. By providing agencies with tools that do more than simply map the historic frequency of crime incidents at a particular geographic location, we're helping law enforcement agencies to focus their limited resources in the areas where they can best improve public safety," said Robert Cheetham, president and chief executive officer of Azavea.
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