West Point’s ORCA software knows if you’re in a gang

The cops in the test program said that they already knew the things ORCA was telling them, which both confirms ORCA’s accuracy and brings up the question: what good is it, then? For one thing, it takes less than a minute to run an analysis on an average computer, certainly faster than it would take police to collect and analyze crime and gang data.

Researchers at West Point Military Academy developed Organizational, Relationship and Contact Analyzer (ORCA) to help track insurgents in the Middle East. Now several U.S. police departments are using it on criminal gangs.

Software that maps social networks is nothing new – marketers have been identifying influential “taste-makers” for years now to help shape public opinion. The military has found a use for this type of analysis as well, tracking the associates of known terrorists and even pinpointing who leads each cell.

ORCA was initially used to highlight social and family connections between terrorists in Afghanistan. It was known that a tendency toward militant activity was often shared among family members, and that groups of terrorists tend to share certain core beliefs. Software reinforced that kind of analysis, but it could do it in a fraction of the time.

Major Paulo Shakarian turned the software toward domestic gangs, working with the Chicago Police Department to test ORCA’s prowess at sussing out gang affiliation. They began by inputting 5,400 arrest records that occurred over three years. Over 1,400 individuals were included. Those who had admitted gang membership were given a 100% probability of belonging to their particular gang. The ORCA analysis then showed who else was likely to part of those gangs, based on who was present at the same arrests and other links.


Complete text linked here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *