The police department of Santa Cruz, California is testing a new method for apprehending criminals: beating them to the crime scene. No, they haven't harnessed a group of pre-cogs; they're relying on a computer program that analyzes past crime statistics. "Based on models for predicting aftershocks from earthquakes, it generates projections about which areas and windows of time are at highest risk for future crimes by analyzing and detecting patterns in years of past crime data. The projections are recalibrated daily, as new crimes occur and updated data is fed into the program. ... For the Santa Cruz trial, eight years of crime data were fed into the computer program, which breaks Santa Cruz into squares of approximately 500 feet by 500 feet. ... Officers are given a list of the 10 highest-probability 'hot spots' of the day at roll call. They check those areas during times that they are not out on service calls. Before the program started, they made such 'pass through' checks based on hunches or experience of where crimes were likely to occur."
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