Crime in metropolises: the new study coordinated by FBK published in “Nature Scientific Reports”
10 September 2020 | Written by La redazione
The work explores the correlation between crime, socio-economic conditions, environmental characteristics and mobility in 4 megacities.
Today 23% of the world population lives in metropolises. In these huge cities, criminal activity is much more intense and violent than in smaller ones or in rural areas. Therefore, understanding what factors influence urban crime is an urgent necessity.
Influential studies from the past have analyzed crime rates through historical data or through ecological factors that can influence crime. For example, certain places such as bars can attract crime, but at the same time they can be part of a virtuous mechanism that decreases the isolation of the area and, therefore, the crime itself. Recently, new machine learning methods based on artificial intelligence have also provided accurate predictions on crimes over time. However, the majority of existing studies focus on a single city at a time, often New York or Chicago, and consider only a limited number of factors, such as socio-economic characteristics, while ignoring others, such as the mobility of people. Therefore our understanding of the factors influencing crime in cultures and cities is very limited.
In the new study conducted by the Bruno Kessler Foundation in collaboration with some researchers of the University of Berkeley and Data-pop Alliance, published by the prestigious journal Nature Scientific Reports, an innovative model is proposed to explore how violent and non-violent crimes are related not only to socio-economic factors, but also environmental characteristics related to urbanization (eg land use) and the mobility of people between neighborhoods.
To this end, FBK researchers integrated multiple open data sources with cell phone traces to understand how different factors are related to crime, and comparing them in different cities, namely Boston, Bogotá, Los Angeles and Chicago.
“This new approach has shown how the combined use of socio-economic conditions, information on mobility and physical characteristics of the neighborhood effectively explains the emergence of crime and improves the performance of traditional approaches – says Marco De Nadai, first author of the study – However, it also proved that the socio-ecological factors of neighborhoods refer to crime very differently from one city to another and that therefore there is not (yet) in fact a model suitable for every city and replicable ”.