Big Data used to beef up campus security

Purdue University students have developed a software program that uses Big Data to help police target where crime could happen.

Purdue’s software uses algorithms to predict criminal activity.

The program, called “Valet,” took more than four years to develop. It’s already being deployed to police agencies in several states.

Lafayette Police Chief Patrick Flannelly says the program gives police real-time data to work with and can help shrinking departments do more with less.

The program places red spots on a map to indicate where crimes have been committed and the nature of those crimes. It uses police data, court records and social media to track patterns that police can use to beef up patrols at key times.

It also uses algorithms to forecast future criminal activity, with 95 percent certainty.

“It’s basically a way for them to get a better understanding of a situation they’re about to find when they knock on that door,” said Purdue Professor David Ebert, who led the team of researchers at Purdue’s Homeland Security Center of Excellence.

See Page 2 for more on what police learn from Big Data used to fight crime.

One of the software’s developers, Abish Malik, says the program gives police more information about the variables they face in any given situation.

“Predicting crime is one of the most challenging problems that you’ll ever face. There are so many dynamic things happening at the same time simultaneously, so we really need dominant expertise and dominant knowledge — you have to bring that into the equation,” Malik said.

Purdue Police Capt. Eric Chin said the program doesn’t replace traditional policing, but it “allows us to patrol smarter.”

The program was financed through a grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Purdue’s efforts are hardly the first time colleges have utilized technology to boost security on and around campus. The University of Missouri, just last month, announced the school would use beacons and a computer software program to notify the campus community during emergency situations.

They use strobes and sounds to get people’s attention, and then alert messages will be displayed on a screen, university spokesman Christian Basi said.

MU also has been working on a program that will allow specific administrators to take over computer screens to display alert messages, said Terry Robb, director of information technology.

See also:

Enhancing Campus Security: What You Should Know