Data-driven, Early Intervention Technology for Police Officers Licensed to Benchmark Analytics

The University of Chicago announced a partnership with Benchmark Analytics to commercialize an early intervention system for police officers. Benchmark Analytics is a provider of analytics-based police force management and early intervention software solutions for law enforcement agencies throughout the U.S.

The technology powering the early intervention system was created by over 20 data scientists as part of the Data Science for Social Good Fellowship at the Center for Data Science and Public Policy (DSaPP), led by Rayid Ghani, Director of the DSaPP and Senior Fellow at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy and Computation Institute, Lauren Haynes, Associate Director of DSaPP, and Joe Walsh, Senior Data Scientist at DSaPP. The technology was exclusively licensed through the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation – the first deal that the Polsky Center has done with the Harris School

The technology developed by Ghani’s team has been instrumental in creating a revolutionary data-driven early intervention system for police officers. This was done by applying data science and machine learning methods to detailed historical data about officers and their behaviors in police departments. Ghani’s team worked the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department to gather this data. The resulting analytic tool accurately identifies officers at risk of future adverse behavior. It does this by pinpointing the factors that matter in signaling future off-track, problematic behavior.

“We have learned that we can significantly reduce the number of ‘false positives’ associated with existing EIS programs that use simple threshold-based triggers,” said Ghani. “By analyzing historical data about police officer behavior, we take a more proactive and preventative approach – where we can better predict which officers are truly in need of intervention.”

The Polsky Center’s technology commercialization team was integral in bringing this partnership together. The Polsky Center has had a long history of supporting technology transfer opportunities for  many UChicago departments and divisions such as the Biological Sciences Division and the Institute for Molecular Engineering. This marks the first technology that has been licensed from the Harris School, which is a testament to the Polsky Center’s ongoing growth and mission in supporting the entire University and South Side community.

According to Cole Johnson, manager of technology commercialization at the Polsky Center who negotiated the Benchmark deal, the process for licensing technology from the Harris School is relatively similar to the process for licensing a therapeutic or physical sciences technology.

“The most notable benefit of reaching to departments that don’t have a historical drive for commercialization from their work is our ability to move meaningful technologies outside of the lab in a way that can create a domino effect or positive feedback loop for others within the University,” said Johnson. “There could be (and likely are) other groups with technologies that could make a positive impact on society and they just don’t think of their work with commercialization in mind. However, when these faculty members begin to see their colleagues licensing technologies to startups and when they read stories of how those technologies will be in the hands of actual consumers by the end of the year, they may begin to recognize the value of translatable research.”

Faculty and researchers who are working on ideas that may have commercial or translational potential are encouraged to get connected with the Polsky Center. The first step is to fill out an online form to disclose their idea. And then someone from the Polsky Center technology commercialization team will follow up and guide them through the process.

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