Hitachi Visualization Suite 4.5 has been newly enhanced with Predictive Crime Analytics (PCA) – allegedly the first tool of its kind to use real-time social media and Internet data feeds together with analytics to deliver predictions. This is a ‘new’ Hitachi video management platform is appliance-based software that combines rich data integration, management and visualization for video applications powered by VMware software

The solutions are part of Hitachi’s Social Innovation solutions portfolio, which is committed to the development of ‘smart’ societies that are, in their own words: “… safer, healthier and more efficient, while delivering better business outcomes for its customers.”

police eyes2
Aye, Aye, Aye…

What’s going on here then? 

PCA is an attempt to use real-time social media and Internet data feeds together with unique, sophisticated analytics to gather intelligent insight and enhance public safety through the delivery of highly accurate crime predictions.

Public safety and the protection of people, property and infrastructure is a foundation of smart cities and societies,” said Ruthbea Yesner Clarke, director of global smart cities research at IDC. “Digital technologies, like those from Hitachi Data Systems, that provide real-time, aggregate and contextual data, support public safety initiatives that can transform how law enforcement and other first responder agencies locate, mitigate and prevent crimes, and ultimately make our cities safer places.”

Hitachi Visualization Suite (HVS) is a hybrid cloud-based platform that integrates disparate data and video assets from public safety systems— computer-aided emergency services dispatch, number plate readers, gunshot sensors, and so on—in real time and presents them geospatially. Along with capturing real-time event data from sensors, HVS now offers the ability to provide geospatial visualizations for historical crime data in several forms, including heat maps.  

The algorithms can also be used to create threat-level predictions to attempt to forecast where crimes are likely to occur or additional resources are likely to be needed. HDS claims that: “PCA is unique in that it provides users with a better understanding of the underlying risk factors that generate or mitigate crime. It is the first predictive policing tool that uses natural language processing for topic intensity modelling using social media networks together with other public and private data feeds in real time to deliver highly accurate crime predictions.”

listening in
Listening in

But there is a debate about this type of software

In a report from Statewatch the civil liberties organization quotes the UK business magazine The Economist which said: “Misuse and overuse of data can amplify biases. It matters, for example, whether software crunches reports of crimes or arrests; if the latter, police activity risks creating a vicious circle. And report-based systems may favour rich neighbourhoods which turn to the police more readily rather than poor ones where crime is rife. Crimes such as burglary and car theft are more consistently reported than drug dealing or gang-related violence.”

Statewatch said : “Such methods also appear to turn the principle of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ on its head. The harvesting of data to try and ascertain who is likely to commit a crime places individuals who have done nothing wrong under suspicion.

”The same problem is inherent in PNR systems, through which every traveller is screened for involvement in or association to crime and terrorism, regardless of the likelihood of their actual involvement. The Data Retention Directive also has the same effect: to place everybody under suspicion, with details of their communications stored ‘just in case’ they are required.”