Vancouver police now using machine learning to prevent property crime

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The Vancouver Police Department is implementing a city-wide “predictive policing” system that uses machine learning to prevent break-ins by predicting where they will occur before they happen — the first of its kind in Canada.

The system analyzes historical records of break-ins around the city and generates predictions about where break-ins are likely to occur over two-hour intervals, within either a 100- or 500-metre radius.

Police chief Adam Palmer said that, after a six-month pilot project in 2016, the system is now accessible to all officers via their cruisers’ onboard computers, covering the entire city.

“Instead of officers just patrolling randomly throughout the neighbourhood, this will give them targeted areas it makes more sense to patrol in because there’s a higher likelihood of crime to occur,” Palmer said.

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