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Risk Terrain Modeling: Brokering Criminological Theory and GIS Methods for Crime Forecasting

NCJ Number
Justice Quarterly Volume: 28 Issue: 2 Dated: April 2011 Pages: 360-381
Joel M. Caplan; Leslie W. Kennedy; Joel Miller
Date Published
April 2011
22 pages
This study investigated the use of computer mapping in crime forecasting.
The research presented here has two key objectives. The first is to apply risk terrain modeling (RTM) to forecast the crime of shootings. The risk terrain maps that were produced from RTM use a range of contextual information relevant to the opportunity structure of shootings to estimate risks of future shootings as they are distributed throughout a geography. The second objective was to test the predictive power of the risk terrain maps over two 6-month time periods, and to compare them against the predictive ability of retrospective hot spot maps. Results suggest that risk terrains provide a statistically significant forecast of future shootings across a range of cut points and are substantially more accurate than retrospective hot spot mapping. In addition, risk terrain maps produce information that can be operationalized by police administrators easily and efficiently, such as for directing police patrols to coalesced high-risk areas. (Published Abstract)