It's not quite Minority Report, but Santa Cruz police are field-testing a new crime prediction program that'll help stop crime before they even happen. It doesn't predict exactly who will commit the crime but will try and predict where crimes will happen.
It's pretty smart, the program, designed by George Mohler at Santa Clara University, uses locations of past crimes to flag potential future crime scenes. The logic: a burglary at one location tends to trigger other burglaries nearby in the next few days -- like an aftershock effect. And the software is relatively effective too! New Scientist notes:
On average the program predicted the location and time of 25 per cent of actual burglaries that occurred on any particular day in an area of Los Angeles in 2004 and 2005, using just the data on burglaries that had occurred before that day
The program will flag up to 10 areas (150sqm) for three different crimes (residential burglary, auto burglary and auto theft) and then the police will adjust their patrolling schedules to check out those locations in an effort to curb criminal activity from happening. The thought is, if the police is around, criminals would be less likely to be, well, criminals. I wonder if this new software comes with cool gloves. [New Scientist]