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Director's Message: Driving Innovation in Crime Forecasting


In order to strengthen justice in the United States, we need to apply the expertise of all scientific disciplines to better respond to the challenges that criminal justice practitioners face every day. One of those challenges is finding the most effective and efficient analytics tools to map and forecast crimes. While NIJ has been a long-time investor in research on mapping and analysis for public safety, it is time to harness the innovative thinking that has revolutionized data science in other fields, whether forecasting consumer behavior or detecting medical anomalies, and apply it to reducing crime and improving public safety.

I’m very excited to announce an upcoming competition, the Real-Time Crime Forecasting Challenge. This challenge will bring together our nation’s brightest minds in data analytics to develop the next generation of algorithms and platforms that advance the place-based crime forecasting tools available to national, state and local law enforcement agencies.

Our challenge welcomes an array of participants, including students, professors, entrepreneurs, scientists, individuals and businesses with expertise in biology, cognitive behavior, economics, statistics and other relevant fields.

Not only will the Crime Forecasting Challenge improve law enforcement agencies’ ability to prevent and respond to crime in their jurisdictions, but it is also an opportunity for the broader community to be involved in developing tools to reduce crime and improve public safety.

Awards of up to $1,200,000[1] in prizes will made at the conclusion of the challenge, but this is about more than prizes. Participants will be contributing to the improvement of public safety and informing the innovative tools that law enforcement use to reduce crime. Challenge winners will be recognized as crime-data forecasting leaders and will receive widespread recognition through NIJ’s participation in events, such as the International Association of Chiefs of Police Annual Conference and Expo.

Sign up to receive updates about the challenge, including an invitation to an upcoming informational webinar, notification when datasets are released from September through February, and when the challenge submission window is open. I also encourage law enforcement partners to follow along with the challenge, as outcomes can be potentially of use for your operations.  
We hope you consider participating. Best of luck and happy forecasting!


[note 1] Subject to the availability of funds.