SOURCE: Azavea

Azavea Advanced GIS Solutions


October 17, 2013 09:00 ET

Predictive Policing Research Breaks New Ground in Philadelphia

Azavea's HunchLab Software Now Incorporates Multiple Crime Theories Into a Unified Prediction of Crime Risk

PHILADELPHIA, PA--(Marketwired - October 17, 2013) - Azavea, an award-winning geographic data analysis software firm announced a groundbreaking new approach in predictive policing research. The firm's HunchLab software now incorporates multiple significant crime patterns and theories into one system that can recommend predictive patrol missions on a shift-by-shift basis and integrate organizational and societal priorities of various types of crime.

Predictive policing was named one of the fifty best inventions of 2011 by Time Magazine, while The Police Chief magazine called predictive policing "the next era in policing." For the past three years, Azavea has been working to advance this research and translate research into operational tools. The firm has developed an approach to predictive mission recommendation that balances the importance of multiple crime theories that can be applied to any type of crime.  In addition to predicting risk for each type of crime across a jurisdiction, Azavea's HunchLab software can calculate the relative crime risk per unit of patrol effort for each location as well as determine the size of the area that can be patrolled with the available staff resources. This process maximizes the impact of patrols and ensures that the right quantity of mission recommendations reflects organizational and societal crime priorities. The software combines advanced machine learning approaches that can incorporate the following crime patterns and theories into a single prediction of criminal risk: Baseline crime levels; Near repeat patterns; Aoristic crime analysis; Risk Terrain Modeling; Routine activity theory; Collective efficacy; Temporal cycles; Recurring temporal events (holidays, sporting events, etc.); and Weather patterns.  

This new technology is a departure from the conventional approach, which focuses on identification of hot spots based solely on past crime events.  Not only does HunchLab enable the combination of many data sources and the intelligent use of temporal patterns, but the new predictive model also enables the prioritization of patrols based on societal impact and local priorities. This data-driven process leads to resource allocations that accurately and fairly reflect societal priorities for public safety, unbiased by neighborhood affluence, race or ethnicity. 

"This new version of HunchLab is the culmination of almost 10 years of ongoing research into the application of data science to crime analysis and public safety.  The new HunchLab also builds on Azavea's commitment to building civic software for operating cities and several years of collaboration with some of the leading academic crime geographers in the world. I am also excited about the potential for applying these techniques for forecasting geospatial and temporal risk to other types of data, such as traffic accidents, 311 calls, and municipal work orders."

Azavea is not a newcomer in law enforcement computing research. In addition to funding from the National Science Foundation's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program (IIP-0637589, IIP-0750507) to support early development of the product, the firm has worked for several years with academic research teams focused on crime geography. For Drs. Jerry Ratcliffe and Ralph Taylor at Temple University, they have developed statistical models that forecast long-term crime risk based upon neighborhood characteristics such as socioeconomic status, collective efficacy, and heterogeneity. For Drs. Joel Caplan and Les Kennedy from Rutgers University, the firm has developed a new statistical approach to their Risk Terrain Modeling methodology, whereby crime risk is determined by the environmental factors present in an area (proximity and density of geographic features such as pubs, bus stops, and known offenders).

For more information about HunchLab, visit or meet us at the Esri booth at the 2013 International Association of Chiefs of Police conference held in Philadelphia, Oct. 19-23. To schedule a demo or for an interview, please contact Amy Trahey at (215) 558-6184 or e-mail

About Azavea - Azavea is an award-winning geospatial data analysis and software development firm.  Azavea is a certified B Corporation that applies geographic data and technology to promote the emergence of vibrant and sustainable communities while advancing the state-of-the-art through research. Each of Azavea's projects, products and pro bono engagements showcases this commitment. Find out more at

If you would like more information about Azavea or to schedule an interview with Robert Cheetham, Azavea CEO and President, please contact Amy Trahey at (215) 558-6184 or e-mail

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