The defenders and promulgators of data-driven, predictive policing — which is meant to anticipate crimes before they happen — face a PR problem: reassuring the public against fears that such methods are ushering in a totalitarian future reminiscent of the science-fiction film Minority Report.
Concerns about preemptive crime fighting through data hoarding and analysis are hard to assuage, however, because they are perfectly valid.
A lengthy feature published in the Guardian on Wednesday looked at the permeation of data-driven analysis in the LAPD and other municipal police forces. “As the ability to collect, store and analyze data becomes cheaper and easier, law enforcement agencies all over the world are adopting techniques that harness the potential of technology to provide more and better information,” it noted. “But while these new tools have been welcomed by law enforcement agencies, they’re raising concerns about privacy, surveillance and how much power should be given over to computer algorithms.”