Crime mapping identifies burglary 'hot spots' in Savannah

(Source: WTOC)
(Source: WTOC)

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Taking crime mapping to a different level. We are learning more about a local student's effort to find crime hot spots around the community.

The thesis project of Andrew Little, a former police officer turned Armstrong State University grad student, looks at three years worth of burglaries, commercial and residential, from all five Savannah-Chatham Metro Police precincts.

To preserve victim privacy, the locations are identified by longitude and latitude, not by address.

"We picked burglary data because it is less sensitive than other types of crimes," said Dr. Ray Hashemi, a professor in Armstrong State University's Department of Computer Science.

Hashemi said Metro provided a list of all burglaries from 2013 to 2015. That list was then applied to a map of the City, with each burglary represented by a dot.

From there, hot spots were identified using a data mining algorithm working off the density of numbers of burglaries in a given area.

Hashemi explained, "After we establish the hot spots, we try to establish the relationships among these hot spots."

Commonalities in each hot spot were determined by looking at things like Census data and proximity to certain landmarks, from pawn shops and liquor stores to schools and churches.

Hashemi pointed out though, that the use of all this information is strictly up to the consumer, in this case, the police.

"The system cannot offer any kind of conclusion, for example, what area is more prone to burglary. That is not the purpose of this project," said Hashemi.

The purpose, Hashemi said, is to provide the community and those who protect it with another tool to potentially make that effort more effective.

The professor said this data mining application can absolutely be used to look at other crime in the community. The University and student will share the findings with Metro leaders in the coming weeks.

Copyright 2017 WTOC. All rights reserved.