Fighting Crime with Data

Fighting Crime with Data
July 2, 2014

Using technology to make contemporary living easier and hassle-free is a given, but what about using technology to prevent crime? Usman Bukhary, an ITU MS student and a Research Assistant at the Business Analytics Lab (BAL), is currently using data-mining and machine-learning techniques to analyse data gathered on crimes taking place in the district of Lahore.

GIS software and data-mining technologies can help immensely in organizing data to build systems which can prove useful in improving efficiency and ensuring better resource utilization. In this case, Bukhary is using data on crime to provide actionable feedback to local law enforcement agencies to help them improve crime-prevention measures.

Data collected on crime from every thana (police station) in the seven divisions of the Lahore district has been mapped and analysed in both spatial and temporal dimensions. It has been organized across different variables including the location, time and date at which crimes have taken place, and the type of crime.


The results, including thematic maps, have yielded useful information; for example, the cluster map below shows that crime takes place mostly on roads and public places in Lahore.


Such information can be used to follow crime patterns, which can be extremely helpful in the efficient deployment of personnel by law enforcement agencies. The map below shows areas where motorcycle thefts usually take place in the city. Temporal data reveals that the probability of motorcycle theft in these areas is highest on Tuesdays. Police could easily use such information to ensure that appropriate and specialized preventive measures are taken to counter the type of crimes an area is most prone to at any given time.


However, the data Bukhary is working with at the moment comes exclusively from the police stationsof Lahore and accounts only for reported crimes. This data very likely does not represent all the crimes which take place in the district. To make the system more comprehensive, Bukhary plans on analysing information from social media platforms such as Twitter.  For example, if someone is robbed, they may not report it but if they publicly tweet about it, the information could be recorded in the database.

This project is being supervised by ITU faculty member and BAL patron Dr. Faisal Kamiran.