Are Low Crime Rates Recession-Proof?
Conventional wisdom is that crime rates typically increase with the unemployment rate. The theory is that people without jobs have the motivation and the time to commit crime. But the economic downturn we're emerging from is something of an anomaly in this respect. Not only has the crime rate not significantly increased with the unemployment rate, but violent and property crime rates have actually decreased.
To be honest, this isn't completely unexpected. Some of the most significant advancements have been achieved by capturing criminal data, which may have been collected and neglected by various agencies, and integrating all relevant data into centralized systems where it can be analyzed, accessed, and used to gain a better understanding of crime patterns. The net result: Lower crime rates.
Most cities facing crime waves tend to throw more bodies at the problem. The logic is that the more officers there are on the street, the fewer crimes are committed. But hiring more officers does not always result in lower crime rates, and given the fact that many law enforcement units are facing budget deficits, growing a police force is a prohibitively expensive solution.
Using basic analytic tools, police can analyze criminal data for various factors--such as weather, special events, time of day, etc.--to help understand where crime is committed, what times it is committed, and to plan their patrols accordingly. The more specific the data collected, the better law enforcement officers are able to actually predict and prevent crime and the less money cities will need to spend on overtime or hiring more officers.
Multiple studies have shown that emergency response times in many major cities are inadequate or are somewhat slower than they should be. There are a number of reasons why police may be delayed in arriving at a crime or accident scene, including traffic, communication problems, or a staff shortage.
By integrating data streams from other emergency services, a computer-aided call center could immediately identify on a map where officers are in relation to a caller, the fastest routes to get to a caller, and which emergency services might be best equipped to respond to a call.
Clearly there is no easy way to eliminate crime in our cities--especially since populations are growing at a fantastic rate. Information technology will never replace police officers, but it is an invaluable tool that can help cities optimize their limited resources, while lowering crime rates and reducing expenses. This is an example of how cities are looking for new ways to deliver better services more cost effectively.
Discover more. Click to view our infographic on how analytics are helping police forces make our cities safer.