Business analytics software aims to cut gun crime

A European Union funded project has created a prototype using business analytics software from SAS to tackle gun crime.

A European Union funded project to investigate ways to improve the fight against gun crime has created a prototype using business analytics software from SAS.

Sheffield Hallam University is coordinating the Project Odyssey programme. It includes the establishment of a research and development (R&D) project to improve cross border collaboration between law enforcement agencies.

Project Odyssey aims to develop a database through which gun crime data can be shared. Law enforcement officers will be able to use SAS software to search across national crime databases. The query will return relevant matches across Europe. The technique is similar to how SAS is used in banks for fraud detection.

Crimes committed in different European countries often involve the same weapons but it currently takes months to establish any links between crimes. This is because different countries use different technology to record information about guns used in crimes and different data formats to store information. This means it is impossible to find matches through computers. “They had no way of looking into other country systems,” said Joanne Taylor, director in SAS’s public security unit.

Currently officers and other law enforcement workers must travel overseas to carry-out tests on ballistics to see if the match. This prevents law enforcement agencies from reducing gun crime which is becoming an increasing problem. Taylor said: “There is more and more anecdotal evidence that guns are coming into Europe and being used in multiple crimes across the continent.”

SAS has been involved in a project to use data standardisation with its business analytics engine to reduce the time taken and money required to investigate gun crime. 

A prototype was built and tested last year following completion of an initial three year R&D project . It used a centralised system along with a method to standardise gun crime data formats. Tests using live data have found that matching gun crimes across Europe can be achieved in a matter of seconds rather than months.

It is now up to EU countries to move to the next level and adopt the working practices in the prototype. “We have shown that the technology is not the barrier. The barrier is now the fact that it needs legislative backing from the EU saying that countries have to use it.”

SAS also working on a programmes to help investigate homicides and human trafficking.



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