3 Ways to Prevent Crime with Technology

By Craig Gruber.

Dr. Gruber is the director of Northeastern's Homeland Security program and lead faculty in the Criminal Justice Program. He is an expert in maritime domain awareness, intelligence analysis, and counter-terrorism. An officer in the U.S. Navy Reserves, Dr. Gruber has served at the Office of Naval Intelligence and Joint Intelligence Center Central Command.

We hear a lot these days about the latest technological crime - data hacking, trojan viruses, and more. With threats to our online security every day, it can make it hard for us to trust technology.  But just as technology can be used to conduct crime, it can also be used to stop it, and even prevent it from happening. 

Here are three ways recent breakthroughs in technology are helping to prevent crime:

1. Mapping 

Geographic Information Systems, remote sensing, and data mapping applications are allowing law enforcers to make enormous leaps in criminal intelligence, crime analysis, emergency response, and policing.

Mapping technologies use real-time information to assess where crimes are happening, according to what kinds of crimes they are. They can identify hot spots and patterns of activity, which lets them focus investigations and improve crime prevention.

2. Smartphone Apps 

Five years ago, we wouldn’t have had any apps on our smartphones, let alone any that had to do with crime prevention or reporting. People already use their phones to take pictures of criminal activity and to text anonymous tips to police. This use of self-reporting will only increase as mobile apps are developed to facilitate it.

3. Web Reporting 

While mobile devices are great ways for people to report criminal activity, many people don’t have access to them. Many more people can access a computer; people can go online from libraries, for example, to submit anonymous tips to local police departments or the federal government. It’s one way to empower a disenfranchised community to move from being a “victim community” to a proactive part of the solution.


Which of these methods do you feel is most effective in preventing crime? What other methods do you see in use?