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Grant to support geographic forecasting of crime

Philadelphia, US

GIS software development company Azavea (formerly Avencia), has been awarded a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase IIB grant, totaling USD 216,000, by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop advanced crime risk forecasting capabilities within HunchLab, the firm’s web-based geographic crime data analysis and early warning software system. HunchLab 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. The Phase IIB award will be used to add new geographic forecasting features to the software as well as develop enhancements to existing functionality.

Azavea is collaborating with Dr. Jerry Ratcliffe from Temple University, an expert in statistical crime analysis. Over the past several years, Dr. Ratcliffe has worked with academic colleagues to develop statistical techniques for detecting “near repeat” patterns in crime.  Dr. 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 is building on Dr. 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 visualisation, animation and heat maps.  

HunchLab is supported by the Small Business Innovation Research program of the National Science Foundation, Directorate for Engineering, Division of Industrial Innovations and Partnerships, Award Number (IIP-0750507).

Source: Azavea