September 7, 2019
Crime prevention through crime prediction
What if the solution to solving crime, lowering murder rates and fighting the opioid crisis could be found through a marriage of computer science and entrepreneurship?
That's exactly the goal of Crimer, a crime-prediction software that began as a project last year in an LSU Computer Science class. The students who created the software also created a company, named Crimer as well, made up of 12 employees—11 of whom are current or former LSU computer science students.
"We collect crime data from the Internet and use it to build a national crime prediction map over the United States," said Alexander "Lex" Adams, a May 2019 LSU Computer Science graduate and founder and chief executive officer of Crimer. "A variety of machine-learning algorithms are responsible for the extraction, transformation, loading and predicting of crime reports. We complement our crime data with a variety of auxiliary data—weather, terrain, population and more."
Currently, the company is putting its resources to use by providing the Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Office with crime prediction data that can be used to reduce costs associated with overtime, reduce idle time on patrols and increase deterrence effectiveness through police presence. Additionally, Crimer is working with the East Baton Rouge Police Department and District Attorney's Office to combat the opioid epidemic using social media.
"We're using Twitter to find tweets about where people are soliciting opioids, then correlating those with overdose deaths," Adams said. "This lets us find these damaged communities and get them the help they need through the city."
Crimer is also working with LSU's Stephenson Entrepreneurship Institute and the Stephenson Department of Entrepreneurship and Information Systems to help bring computer science and entrepreneurship students together through programs such as Startup Weekend and the Venture Challenge competition. The hope is that more College of Engineering students will develop an entrepreneurial mindset and perhaps follow in the footsteps of graduates like Adams.
"I frequently refer to Crimer in class as a tangible example of a student project that turned into a real-life product which delivers actual consumer value," said Anas Mahmoud, assistant professor of computer science at LSU. "The students had to navigate through a broad landscape of software engineering challenges to achieve their vision."
Crimer hopes its prediction skills extend not only to crime but to its future. Adams hopes to see the company work with the New York City Police Department, have a headquarters in San Francisco, and boast of list of numerous clients and hundreds of employees. However far the company moves, though, it won't forget its true home.
"We want to support LSU the whole way through and keep to our roots," Adams said. "On a more romantic note, we hope our software can correct some of the crime problems Louisiana faces."