Purdue University Students Develop Crime-Tracking App

By Ebone Monet - RTV6
By Benecia Brown - 21Alive

Purdue University Students Develop Crime-Tracking App

September 30, 2013 Updated Sep 30, 2013 at 9:23 AM EDT

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (RTV6) -- A group of Purdue students has jumped into the app-making business, and their first product is aimed at helping law enforcement.

For more than four years, students have been developing software to predict what criminal activity might happen, when and where.

“It's not like it's going to stop all crime but it's definitely going to be a good heads-up to avoid those areas and to steer clear of them," said Purdue University student Kyle Hamilton.

The program is Visual Analytics Law Enforcement Toolkit, or VALET Developers have a version for desktops, and smart devices. The first version is for public safety officers.

"When they get a call for dispatch, instead of just seeing what crime has occurred at this address before, they can see what's occurred in this block and maybe what are the things that have tended to happen at this time of day," said Purdue University Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor David Ebert.

VALET uses data from police and court records, 9-1-1 calls and social media to make these predictions.
It is being deployed to police departments in several states and is already being used in Lafayette, where the police chief says its real time data will help shrinking departments do more with less.

Developers are working on a feature to track Twitter, for crime clues, and rolling-out a version for the public.

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

"I'd probably use it just as a safety precaution," said student Alyssa Nymeyer. "It would probably scare me though, just, like, I don't know … just knowing exactly what could happen."

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

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