Efforts to systematically anticipate when and where crimes will occur are being tried out in several cities. The Chicago Police Department, for example, created a predictive analytics unit last year.
But Santa Cruz’s method is more sophisticated than most. Based on models for predicting aftershocks from earthquakes, it generates projections about which areas and windows of time are at highest risk for future crimes by analyzing and detecting patterns in years of past crime data. The projections are recalibrated daily, as new crimes occur and updated data is fed into the program.