The Strategist

Computer algorithms and security cameras reduced number of murders in the US

01/09/2018 - 13:35

The number of murders in the largest cities in the US has markedly decreased in 2017, having dropped to historically low rates in some of them. For instance, 290 people were killed in New York over the past year, and this is the best result in the last half-century. The local police increased number of surveillance cameras and introduced computer algorithms. They predict where the crime would be committed and inform the law enforcement agencies about incidents much earlier than eyewitnesses of the occasions.

Life in the US has become safer over the past decades, and some major cities of the country have historically recorded low rates of homicide in the last year. The results for the US as a whole were presented by the non-profit organization Brennan Center for Justice. According to its latest report, the crime rate fell by 2.7% in the last 30 cities of the country, while the number of murders decreased by 5.6%.

The absolute leader in the percentage reduction in the number of murders was Chicago (-16%). According to the local police, 650 murders were committed in the city in 2017, which is noticeably fewer than in 2016. Recall that Chicago has become the bloodiest city in the last two decades. Commenting on advances in the fight against crime, the Chicago Police Department noted that such an improvement in the situation has become possible thanks to "diligent policing, increasing the number of employees, and investing in new technologies that allow us to build a more thoughtful system of service."

290 murders were recorded over the past year in New York, although this figure was almost ten times higher in the early 1990s. At a special press conference, the city’s mayor Bill de Blasio said that "no one believed that it was possible to reach a level below 300 murders, but the New York police achieved a goal that everyone considered impossible." "To see the same level of crime that we have now, you'll have to go back to the past, in 1951, when the Dodgers were still playing in Brooklyn, and a slice of pizza was worth 15 cents," Mr. de Blasio concluded.

Los Angeles also set a record by number of killings scored - 281 for the whole of last year. Besides the figures, all these cities are united by one more detail: their police departments have adopted new computer algorithms that allow the police to more intelligently distribute the forces around the city, considering in what areas the probability of a crime is higher. Together with the increase in the number of surveillance cameras and the system of recognition of shooting, all this allows law enforcement agencies to better prevent accidents and much more quickly respond to incidents that have already occurred. Sometimes the police find out about shooting a few minutes earlier than the rescue service receives the first call.

However, this trend is not observed in all cities: in Baltimore, for example, the number of murders for the year increased by 11.3%, setting a new record for the number of murders per capita of the city. And in the city of Charlotte, the number of murders has completely peaked in the last 25 years, having increased at once by more than 50%. In absolute terms, this statistics, however, does not look so intimidating – there were just 86 cases per year.