Students Analyze Crime Data for the Denver Police Department

March 24, 2016


biznotes-duanalyticsStudents from four universities competed in the DU Analytics Challenge, a student competition in which participants apply classroom knowledge and innovative thinking to develop potential solutions to a current data analytics problem. The 3rd Annual Challenge was hosted by the Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver Friday, March 4.

Teams from Daniels, the University of Colorado, the United States Air Force Academy and the Colorado School of Mines analyzed data from the Denver Police Department (DPD) and shared their recommendations on how to reduce crime.

The students were given two data files. One file has instances of crime listed by the incident and by the individual involved in the crime, along with their role to the incident (e.g. victim, subject, witness). The second file includes instances where an individual was not charged with a crime but rather a report was made about the individual along with the reason why he/she was stopped.

Chris Wyckoff, director of the data analysis unit at DPD, said DPD wanted to analyze the datasets to identify patterns of crime, but hadn’t been able to due to lack of resources.

“The presentations were amazing,” she said. “This was incredibly useful for us; it pushes us into a better direction.”

Michael Anderson, a senior statistic major, represented DU in the competition and took third place. He found that crimes in the dataset seemed to correlate with bar locations. Crime was centralized in downtown during the day and then moved to the lower downtown area between 5 p.m. and 1:30 a.m. Anderson won the competition in 2015 and had so much fun, he decided to do it again. He says competitions like this help him learn the tools he’ll use in his profession.

“I’m a big nerd. I love this stuff,” he said. “And, this is such a cool data set.”

Anderson and the fourth place winners from the University of Colorado, Boulder took home $500. The U.S. Air Force Academy took second place (receiving $1,000) and the Colorado School of Mines won the top prize (receiving $2,500).

Department of Business Information and Analytics Chair Andrew Urbaczewski organized the DU Analytics Challenge for the third year. “The students get real-world experience and DPD walks away with innovating ideas and methodology,” Urbaczewski said. “DU is a private university for the public good and we always look for projects that could help the community in some way.”

Learn more about the DU Analytics Challenge.