Hmmm…Software That Predicts If You Will Do Crime & Time

The Florida State Department of Juvenile Justice says it will use predictive analytics software from IBM to foretell which of its juvenile offenders are likely to return to crime. The software, made by the SPSS division that Big Blue purchased last year, will replace Excel spreadsheets analyzed by employees. The software can look at far more data inputs and potentially handle more juvenile offenders faster than the older methods, and presumably the ability to incorporate more data points could lead to better results. Those deemed likely to re-offend are given specialized treatment.

The UK Ministry of Justice also uses IBM’s predictive software on its criminal population, to see which ones pose a greater threat to public safety upon release. IBM clearly plans to take SPSS beyond its former domain of market researchers and scientists and apply it to where the big money is — homeland security in these frightening times.

Deepak Advani, vice president of predictive analytics at IBM, said, “Predictive analytics gives government organizations worldwide a highly-sophisticated and intelligent source to create safer communities by identifying, predicting, responding to and preventing criminal activities. It gives the criminal justice system the ability to draw upon the wealth of data available to detect patterns, make reliable projections and then take the appropriate action in real time to combat crime and protect citizens.”

Is anyone else getting “Minority Report” flashbacks? I’m a little concerned as we evaluate our laws protecting citizen and corporate electronic communications (GigaOM Pro sub req’d), that we now have the tools to establish a reliable and cheap surveillance society. With the scale and flexibility of cloud computing, better data management flows and the infrastructure to run many of these queries, governments and private companies are going to have the resources to predict not only market trends and supply chain needs, but also behavior. IBM actually plans to marry its SPSS software to a scaled-out architecture to offer a data-analytics cloud.

Combine good software and the cloud, and the scanning of older data for predictive analysis could soon start incorporating real-time data. Given that someone has already been arrested after making comments on his Twitter feed and the police regularly scour Facebook pages looking for suspects and threats, it’s not so far-fetched.

Image courtesy of Flickr user AlanCleaver_2000

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