Predicting Criminal Incidents Using Geographic, Demographic, and Twitter-derived Information

Speaker: Donald E. Brown

Date: Thu, Sep 20, 2012

Location: IRMACS Center, Simon Fraser University

Conference: Hot Topics in Computational Criminology

Subject: Social Sciences, Applied Mathematics

Class: Scientific


Predictive policing seeks to anticipate the times and locations of crimes to better allocate law enforcement resources to combat these crimes. The key to predictive policing is modeling that
combines available data to forecast or estimate the areas most threatened by crimes at different times. We have developed models that integrate geographic, demographic, and social media information from a specific area of interest to produce the needed predictions. In this presentation, I describe our approach to this predictive modeling, which combines spatial-temporal generalized additive models (STGAM) with a new approach to text mining. We use the STGAM to predict the probability of criminal activity at a given location and time within the area of interest. Our new approach to text mining combines Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA) with Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) to identify and use key topics in social media relevant to criminal activity. We use social media since these data provide a rich, event-based context for criminal incidents. I present our application of this approach to actual criminal incidents in Charlottesville, Virginia. Our results indicate that this combined modeling approach outperforms models that only use geographic and demographic data.