New Paper: A Data-Driven ABM of Urban Crime

A data-driven agent-based simulation to predict crime patterns in an urban environment

We have just published a paper that presents a new, data-driven, agent-based model that can be used to predict urban crime rates. The full reference and abstract are:

Rosés, R., C. Kadar, N. Malleson (2021) A data-driven agent-based simulation to predict crime patterns in an urban environment. Computers, Environment and Urban Systems 89: 101660

Spatial crime simulations contribute to our understanding of the mechanisms that drive crime and can support decision-makers in developing effective crime reduction strategies. Agent-based models that integrate geographical environments to generate crime patterns have emerged in recent years, although data-driven crime simulations are scarce. This article (1) identifies numerous important drivers of crime patterns, (2) collects relevant, openly available data sources to build a GIS-layer with static and dynamic geographical, as well as temporal features relevant to crime, (3) builds a virtual urban environment with these layers, in which individual offender agents navigate, (4) proposes a data-driven decision-making process using machine-learning for the agents to decide whether to engage in criminal activity based on their perception of the environment and, finally, (5) generates fine-grained crime patterns in a simulated urban environment. The novelty of this work lies in the various large-scale data layers, the integration of machine learning at individual agent level to process the data layers, and the high resolution of the resulting predictions. The results show that the spatial, temporal, and interaction layers are all required to predict the top street segments with the highest number of crimes. In addition, the spatial layer is the most informative, which means that spatial data contributes most to predictive performance. Thus, these findings highlight the importance of the inclusion of various open data sources and the potential of theory-informed, data-driven simulations for the purpose of crime prediction. The resulting model is applicable as a predictive tool and as a test platform to support crime reduction.