How Artificial Intelligence And Data Science Are Changing Crime Investigation

Posted by Sukant Khurana in Sci-Tech, Specials
February 12, 2018

Co-authored by Omkar Sabnis:

Crime in the world is advancing as technology advances. As we have all read the news the crimes have evolved with technology and time. It has evolved from bank robberies to hacking the bank to send the money to another account. Thus, we can say that as crimes evolve, the methods must evolve. Crime can be in many forms, varied and it is ever-changing. Fighting crime is like fighting a many-headed monster because when we cut one head off, two more are bound to sprout out — which are cleverer and fiercer than the before.

Hence, when fighting crime, we need to be flexible and inventive. In our increasingly automated future, we feel Artificial Intelligence — when paired with Data Science and Analytics will give us the power and flexibility to deal with crimes — both prevention and investigation.

Humans are inventive creatures but diligence is a quality that we lack. To repeatedly do the same task and assure quality is something we are not great at. We are also bound by emotion. Emotion changes our decisions based on the scenario.

Let’s look at what Artificial Intelligence can do. In the field of journalism, there are now machines that can write articles for you on whatever topic you desire. Companies like Yahoo! are now using AI to prepare simple documents on sporting events and elections. The AI will access the Internet, find the necessary and relevant information, and frame it into a report. In the field of E-commerce, AI is being used for personalizing websites for customers — showing them what they want and recommending them products. Autonomous Vehicles are going to be deployed very soon. Elon Musk recently tweeted, people will soon summon their cars rather than going to their car. As the amount of data increases — AI is now being used for analyzing the stock market and making predictions rather than their human counterparts. We can see that AI is going to be everywhere — whether we like it or not.

AI in the field of crime is going to be a huge bonus. The US government has been spending 80+ billion dollars on introducing AI to departments at the state, local and federal levels. Crimes are committed by humans and we as logical beings follow a pattern — however random we try to be. The advantage that AI has is that it can detect patterns in our behaviour — there it will be able to predict how the person will act, and that is the strength of Artificial Intelligence.

Let’s take a real-time example. The Zodiac killer was a serial killer of the 1970s. He is on record for killing 5 people but is claimed to have killed 37. He wrote 4 ciphers to the police for figuring his identity that are impossible to solve for most experts. Only one of the 4 ciphers has been solved. Now, a computer called CARMEL has been tuned to think like the Zodiac killer. Cipher decryption has the following steps; we first try to interpret the cipher and then use either appropriate keys or design a new one to fit the cipher. So CARMEL is going through the internet to get billions and billions of keys so as to try and interpret the Zodiac cipher. Now that is something a human cannot do by themselves.

AI has many more applications as well like gunshot detection, improving security camera footage analysis, prediction of future crime spots and predicting who will commit crimes in the future. However, prediction is not something we can do off the bat. It requires data. Otherwise, it is just guessing. This is where Data Science and Analytics will come in play.

Let’s look at the current example — PredPol. They are a company that claim that by that using past crimes they can predict the possibility of a future crime and where and when it can occur. This can be achieved by analyzing the past crimes, finding similarities and then coming up with predictive analysis. Their algorithm is one that can help the police remain vigilant in the predicted areas.

In conclusion, Artificial Intelligence can help us fight crime in a whole new way. As our use of Artificial Intelligence increases, we will have lesser crimes as predictive analysis will prevent crime and as it starts proving its worth — will start to deter potential criminals and that, is how I feel we can fight this monster and gain an advantage.

This article was first published here.

About: Mr Omkar Sabnis is a researcher working with Dr Sukant Khurana on application of artificial intelligence and big data in fighting crime.

Dr Sukant Khurana runs an academic research lab and several tech companies. He is also a known artist, author, and speaker. You can learn more about Sukant at or and if you wish to work on biomedical research, neuroscience, sustainable development, artificial intelligence or data science projects for public good, you can contact him at or by reaching out to him on LinkedIn.