Steven Spielberg’s 2002 science fiction film Minority Report painted a future in which crimes can be predicted, and thus prevented, before they occur. The Pre-Crime police division used psychics called Precogs to name future criminals. Now, in yet another case of life imitating sci-fi art, German police are trialling a software system to detect patterns of criminal behaviour in order to predict future crimes.
The software is, in a knowing wink to Minority Report, known as the Pre-Crime Observation System (or Precobs), and uses data from crime location, time, and type to create trends and hotspots that help anticipate crimes before they happen. Precobs, developed by the Institute for Pattern-Based Prediction Technique in Oberhausen, is being trialled in the southern German state of Bavaria. Results so far are described “promising” by interior minister Joachim Herrmann .
Should the trail prove successful, the technology will be adopted by Berlin police, prior to a national roll-out.