Not science fiction: Miami wants to predict when and where crime will occur

[Comment: “Pre-crime” of the kind depicted in the dystopian science fiction film, “Minority Report,” has arrived in Miami]

Armed with high-tech software and years of crime data, Miami police believe they will soon be able to stop crimes by predicting when and where they will occur.

It sounds a little like something out of a science fiction novel, but the department is in the process of adopting a system called HunchLab that produces maps showing small areas where specific crimes are likely to be committed during shifts. The probability program is a geographical version of “predictive policing” software, which more departments are using — even if, in the words of one supportive cop, it’s “kind of scary.”

Similar algorithm-based programs have been credited with lowering crime rates in cities around the country, and some South Florida departments recently have adopted their own systems. In Miami’s case, the department is funding the implementation of HunchLab and other software programs with a $600,000 federal grant doled out by the Bureau of Justice Assistance to encourage smart policing tactics.

In Miami, MacDonald said that the software the department is using is a more elaborate version of PredPol, which uses only crime data. Miami police also are punching in everything from paydays to school calendars, weather reports and social media. The department also is using the federal grant to establish an offender database.

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