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Study: Graffiti artist Banksy unmasked by geospatial analysis

Geospatial analysis of petty crimes like vandalism and graffiti tagging could help police target and thwart terrorists and gangs.
By Brooks Hays   |   March 4, 2016 at 2:14 PM
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LONDON, March 4 (UPI) -- Researchers in England claim to have unmasked the serial graffiti artist Banksy, an artist who has managed to elude authorities and maintain his anonymity despite worldwide fame.

According to a new study published in the Journal of Spatial Science, Banksy is artist Robin Gunningham.

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The unveiling was made possible by a geographic profiling model developed by a pair of researchers at Queen Mary University of London and police officer-turned professor Kim Rossmo, from Texas State University.

The research supports long held suspicions that Gunningham is Banksy -- a connection alleged most famously by the British paper Mail on Sunday in 2008.

By analyzing the spatial pattern of Banksy artworks, the model pinpoints the likely home base of the responsible artist. The model was initially designed to track serial criminals, not graffiti artists. But researchers say the technology could be used in a variety of novel capacities, like tracking viral outbreaks.

"In a disease outbreak, our model can use the addresses of infected individuals to find the sources of the outbreak," lead study author Steve Le Comber, a researcher with QMUL's School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, explained in a news release. "Because this takes just minutes on a computer, investigators can potentially stop outbreaks before they spread by putting in place control procedures that are likely to be most effective."

While graffiti hasn't traditionally been the focus of high-level criminology studies, geospatial analysis of petty crimes like vandalism and graffiti tagging could help police target and thwart terrorists and gangs.

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Topics: Queen Mary
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