Gov 2.0: Solving Problems Before They Arise?

Can Gov 2.0 and social media information be used to predict future problems and develop solutions in advance?  Some experts think that perhaps it can:

Already, Twitter is being used to successfully predict movie grosses and even future stock trends. Now some futurists are even suggesting that using the Web 2.0 data stream to predict future criminal behavior can’t be far behind.

For many of us this raises the specter of Big Brother. But if an analysis of the social media data stream could predict the outbreak of gang violence, or a deadly flu, wouldn’t you want government to have the ability to access that data and act on it to save lives?

That is the debate we are about to have.

Already, some cities are experimenting with data driven algorithms to predict crime trends. This is a technology built on the 1980’s CompStat model, which used early mapping software to spot crime patterns and then deployed police and other resources to reduce those crime hotspots.

…But the CompStat model was built to spot trends – not to predict them.

In the last year the Los Angeles Police Department won a $3 million federal grant to use internal crime data to see if future crime trends could be predicted. This “predictive policing” model looks for “micro trends” in police reports and other internal data and seeks to spot future trends.

You can read more here.  What do you think?  Is this a promise for a brighter future, or a frightening exercise of “Big Brother”?

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