Police List Crime-Fighting Software as a Priority

By Maggie O'Neill  |  Posted 2014-12-02 Email Print this article Print
Crime-fighting software

Crime-fighting software is already being used to fight drug-related and other types of crimes, and this technology could soon become a standard for police.

Slightly more than a third of police agencies in the United States are already using crime-fighting software in their units, and more than half are planning to incorporate these technologies into their local departments, according to a recent survey from the Wynyard Group.

The survey queried more than 300 police chiefs, investigators, analysts and law-enforcement officials on their use of crime-fighting software, and more than 90 percent said they expect crime-fighting software, including use of advanced crime analytics, to become an industry standard of police departments and policing in the future.

The interest grows as agencies seek better ways to identify crime hot spots, fight drug-related crimes and battle cyber-crime, according to Craig Richardson, CEO of Wynyard, a solutions provider of advanced crime analytics, risk and threat assessment software. While many federal agencies already utilize crime-fighting software, it's the regional and local departments that lag behind. They often dragging their feet due to budget constraints, he explains.

But as those constraints loosen up, more funding should become available to deploy new technology. Departments implementing crime-fighting software can then catch up to larger federal agencies—and to the sophisticated criminals that have gone online. Adoption rates could potentially become quite high.

"I think this is something we're seeing very much in the U.S. and in developed countries," Richardson says. "We're seeing a record modernization of police forces now. … We're also seeing new crimes that demand new tools to solve them. Again, the online issues are prevalent. In general, what we are seeing is a fairly rapid pressure to modernize policing and generally have access to lots of useful data."

The survey also shows that when evaluating crime-fighting software, agencies most value it for predictive analytics, followed closely by the capability to upload and analyze various types of data from different sources. Richardson believes these rankings may reflect the fact that departments already have good record management systems and good data regarding crime, but lack the ability to aggregate data and look at trends on a real-time basis.

Another capability identified as valuable in crime-fighting software is a minimal training time of three to five days. Historically, crime-fighting software has been very complex.

"What we're seeing now is a new generation of software coming forward in the past 24 months that is very useful for police and detectives on the front line," Richardson says. "Much of the complexity is now hidden from the user."

Respondents that already use crime-fighting software in their departments turn to its assistance for help fighting many different types of crime. Sixty-two percent of police departments use it for solving drug-related crimes, 54 percent use it to help solve robberies, 49 percent to help with gang violence, 48 percent for help with gun-related crimes, and 48 percent to solve fraud and financial crimes. Conversely, departments use crime-fighting software the least to solve border-related crimes (14 percent), human trafficking crimes (21 percent) and organized crime (24 percent).

The greatest impediment to implementation is limited budget, according to survey respondents, but perceived high costs and lack of understanding about how software could help fight crime rank second and third. Finally, should funds became available for new technology, 37 percent of respondents said they would put budget toward analytics software, 32 percent toward surveillance technologies, 23 percent toward protective technologies such as Kevlar, and 9 percent toward new weapons.

Agencies that are adopting crime-fighting software often find that they can be more productive, solve crimes faster, deploy resources more effectively, and solve or prevent some of the more sophisticated modern crimes.

Maggie O'Neill has worked as a hard news reporter for more than 10 years for papers in Northern Nevada.

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