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Tracking Crime in Real Time

Tel Aviv University researchers are using digital activities to catch criminals and strengthen homeland security efforts against terrorists.

The researchers developed context-based search algorithms that analyze digital data in real time. The algorithms take pieces of information, such as phone calls, emails, or credit card transactions, and reduce them to a set of random variables.

All of the communications are actually pieces of a longer message waiting to be decoded, according to Tel Aviv University professor Irad Ben-Gal. Once the various information pieces are entered into the system, the algorithm can assess patterns of crime to predict future movements and create a probability map showing the criminals' possible locations.

The probability map is divided into zones where the subject is likely to operate. Each zone is given a statistical likelihood of the subject's presence, and each new piece of information can instantly change a zone's probability. The algorithms can help officials wisely use any available information, Ben-Gal says.

From American Friends of Tel Aviv University
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