The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) is considering the introduction of a crime prevention system that uses artificial intelligence and big data to predict when and where crimes might occur.
The Kyoto prefectural police have already launched crime prevention measures that harness big data, steps that have resulted in the apprehension of people for crimes including theft and secretly taking photos with a hidden camera.
The MPD plans to combine this system with AI technology to improve its accuracy. In the private sector, the development of new technologies, such as equipment with AI to prevent shoplifting, is also being promoted.
In March 2017, the MPD established a full-time team to examine the practical applications of big data and using AI as part of a crime prevention system. On April 20 this year, experts at a research workshop proposed to the MPD that such a system “could prevent crimes from happening and improve public safety.” In response, the MPD began to earnestly consider introducing the system.
It is said that the system also will enable police to pinpoint the characteristics of people likely to be victimised by crime. Police will step up patrols in areas deemed prospective crime scenes by the AI system, helping to prevent incidents before they happen.
The MPD expects this to have a major impact in stopping traffic accidents and sex crimes, and in combating street crimes such as bag-snatching. The MPD will discuss the system with the private sector and examine technical issues to be ironed out as well as concrete details on how the system would be implemented.
“We’ll be able to efficiently station officers in the right place, which will lead to the quick apprehension of offenders,” a senior MPD official said.
Since October 2016, the Kyoto prefectural police have utilised big data accrued from information on past criminal cases. The police narrow down the locations of likely crime scenes to 100 to 200 square meters, before intensifying patrols in those areas.
In April 2017, a man was arrested for secretly filming people on a riverbed in an area where the system had predicted a sex crime could happen. In another case, a man was apprehended for stealing a motorcycle in a district that big data predicted could be struck by vehicle thieves.
A senior official at the National Police Agency said the Kyoto system “had been confirmed” to have produced certain results. Other prefectural police forces, such as the Kanagawa prefectural police, are also moving toward introducing a similar crime prevention system.
National Institute of Informatics Prof Seiji Yamada, an expert on AI, said: “If the police can use AI to learn details about crimes and the experiences of detectives, they could predict accidents and crimes that previously couldn’t be anticipated.
“If these AI predictions are skillfully combined with the judgment of humans, it could be a powerful tool in the future,” he said. – The Star