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Students from four universities in Colorado had a unique opportunity to take a skill set they learned in the classroom and apply it to real life to help the Denver Police Department.

The goal of the project was to help eliminate or reduce crime in specific problem-areas. It was part of a competition called the “DU Analytics Challenge.”

The Colorado School of Mines, The University of Colorado, The University of Denver and the United States Air Force Academy each had teams participate. Each team had two months to analyze two data files. One file had instances of crime listed by the incident, and by the individual(s) involved in the crime. The second file included instances where no one was charged with a crime, but where a police report was made.

Friday, each team shared their findings with the Denver Police Department, and their recommendations on how to reduce crime.

“DPD provided data … to get alternative perspectives and methodologies to analyze crime data and to improve efficiencies in analysis,” Chris Wyckoff, the director of the data analysis unit at the Denver Police Department said. ” The students provided excellent presentations modeling crime information.”

DU student Michael Anderson, a senior statistics major, said his major finding was that crime seemed to correlate with bar locations.

Other competitors, like Colorado School of Mines student Ryan Thorpe, said the competition was a win-win. The students got real-world experience and the Denver Police Department was able to see its data from a different perspective.

“I can really just speak for technical students, engineers, we feel we’re armed with all of these analytical methods and tools and we’re invincible, and then we go out and get a real data set and realize a lot of things don’t make sense. So it’s good for students to get a reality check for sure,” Thorpe said.

The Colorado School of Mines took first place in the competition. The team was awarded $2,500. The U.S. Air Force Academy took second place, The University of Denver took third place, and the University of Colorado-Boulder took fourth.

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