Fort Lauderdale Uses Big Data to Take a Bite Out of Crime

November 8, 2013

By Emily Pickren

In recent years, cities and local law enforcement departments have been under increasing pressure to provide the same level of services that they always have with fewer resources at their disposal. The challenge of ensuring community safety and protection with a shrinking budget is endemic to cities across the country. As a result, many cities are aiming to take full advantage of their existing assets and leverage new tools through collaborations with private sector partners.

The City of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. has announced a first-of-a-kind research and development partnership with IBM to develop innovative crime prevention tactics using advanced data and analytics tools.

The city is working with IBM to develop a holistic crime prevention strategy that incorporates a variety of complex sources of big data including 911 call records, crime records, public transportation routes, code enforcement and building permit activity. 

The project will use a combination of advanced analytics technologies to allow law enforcement to be more effective and efficient with existing resources, as well as more proactive in deterring crime before it occurs. These technologies, such as pattern recognition and discovery and factor/causality analysis, will allow police to:

  • More effectively and dynamically enable proactive patrol planning
  • Provide access to the right information at the right time
  • Help increase the understanding of key crime factors
  • Assist in identifying gaps between resource and demand  

Fort Lauderdale Police Chief Frank Adderley notes that “with such tools and processes, our officers are learning how to spot trends and to anticipate where crimes may occur and ensure the right resources are in the right places to make Fort Lauderdale safer.”

For instance, a district commander could use big data and analytics to better understand what has happened throughout the city over a specific period of time and redeploy officers based on recent activities. This strategy would not only allow for more efficient placement of officers in areas that require a larger police presence, but would also help assess the effectiveness of the decisions being made in real time.

Mayor John P. “Jack” Seller praised the innovative partnership, saying, “…our efforts to prevent crime remain a high priority, and our ability to continue to ensure the safety and welfare of our residents and visitors remains essential to preserving our outstanding quality of life.  Our work with IBM will better position us to evolve from a city that responds to crime, to one that has the skills and operational resources to prevent crime before it happens.”

IBM will be at NLC’s Congress of Cities this week to talk about their work helping city leaders use evidence-based decisions that are grounded in data in the session “Smarter Cities: Drive Greater Efficiency, Save Taxpayer Dollars” on Thursday, Nov. 14th from 10 -10:45 am.