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The Big Data Intervention
July 21, 2016 News

Chief Data Scientist for President Obama’s re-election for the 2012 campaign and current director of Center for Data Science and Public Policy, Rayid Ghani, says that data can now show if a police officer is at higher risk of negative interaction if the officer has been under stress from handling cases of abuse and suicide.

Although Big Data has been considered a major tool for tech companies as well as political campaigns, Ghani promises a fresh approach for it in policing, education and city services too by not just in predicting the negative scenarios, but in changing them.

The systems today are too reactive to situations to bring about the changes required in the field. When something bad happens, only then will there be any kind of intervention.

The focus is on detection.

“Can I detect these things early? And if I can detect them early, can I direct intervention to them -training, counseling.” Ghani says.

The concept he says is centered on data collection. The data from all the police departments is what will help in predicting which officer will be at risk in those situations. Stress being the biggest factor.

Officers deal with any number of high-level cases daily. Responding to a lot of domestic abuse or suicide cases tend to indicate if the officer will be involved in an adverse situation in the not too distant future.

The current programs already running by the departments aren’t effective. New approaches need to be made available.

Having said that, data analytics has its limitations too.

For instance the data collected could appear faulty based on either biased collection of data or data that’s tarnished from lack of reporting the incidents. Case in point – if a person who gives a loan is biased on who receives it or if members of the public don’t come forward in reporting officer misconducts.

Data analytics role as an early warning system as well as a preventative tool, helps allocate resources and improve policy towards an evidence-based culture in a way that’s never been done before. Finding and screening the data that will be useful to that cause will be the priority.