Social Media Case Study: Crime Reduction in Chicago

Social Media Case Study: Crime Reduction in Chicago

Here’s a really interesting cast study from the US where Chicago law enforcement officers reduced crime based on a social media mapping system.

 Reducing Crime Using Social Media in the United States

Readwrite.com looks at a specialised social media and law enforcement case study in Chicago where in 2013, the city witnessed more than 500 murders – more than both New York City and Los Angeles combined. The statistics are frightening and are directly linked to gang activity as there are an estimated 630 different factions vying for control of the drugs trade in Chicago.

The Chicago Crime Reduction Strategy saw the Chicago Police Department commence door-to-door calls letting gang members know the likelihood of their demise. According to Governing Magazine, the Chicago Police Department is using a social media based ‘network analysis’ that maps the relationships among the 14,000 most active gang members in the city. The results show how likely they are to kill or to be killed as a result of gang violence.

The strategy is based on Yale Associate Professor Andrew Papachristos’ theory, which suggests that if you spend time with people who have been shot, carry a gun or engage in risky behaviours, your own risk of being shot increases. While it may seem that gun violence and its victims are spread randomly in the network analysis map illustrated below, Papachristos’ network analysis shows that much of the violence is highly concentrated.

In Chicago, the homicide rate is around 14.7 deaths per 100,000 people and the neighborhood in the study has a rate of 55.2. Just being arrested increases the rate of being killed by a gun by almost 50 per cent. While these numbers are high, geography and being arrested don’t tell the whole story about one’s risk of being shot. By simply being connected to a homicide victim via this network, a person’s risk of dying at the hand of a gun rockets up 900 per cent.

 

The arrest network of the study's Chicago neighbourhood. Homicide victims are shown in black with many connected in a large black cluster.

The arrest network of the study’s Chicago neighbourhood. Homicide victims are shown in black with many connected in a large black cluster.

The study by Chicago Police Department concluded that there was a 30 to 40 per cent reduction in group violence in targeted Districts as a result of the strategy employed and down by 20 per cent citywide.

Speaking to news channel NBC Police Commander David McNaughton sums up the network analysis crime reduction strategy approach.

When people say stop and frisk is bad, well, no it’s not. We’re going to save their lives by talking to them.

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