Statistica Sinica 26 (2016), 1587-1610
Abstract: There is significant interest in being able to predict where crimes will happen, for example to aid in the efficient tasking of police and other protective measures. We aim to model both the temporal and spatial dependencies often exhibited by violent crimes in order to make such predictions. The temporal variation of crimes typically follows patterns familiar in time series analysis, but the spatial patterns are irregular and do not vary smoothly across the area. Instead we find that spatially disjoint regions exhibit correlated crime patterns. It is this indeterminate inter-region correlation structure along with the discrete nature of small counts of serious crimes that motivates our proposed forecasting tool. In particular, we propose to model the crime counts in each region using an integer-valued first order autoregressive process. We take a Bayesian nonparametric approach to flexibly discover clusters of region-specific time series. We then describe how to account for covariates within this framework. Both approaches adjust for seasonality. We demonstrate our approach through an analysis of weekly reported violent crimes in Washington, D.C. between 2001-2008. Our forecasts outperform those of standard methods while additionally providing information from the posterior distribution of forecasts, such as prediction intervals.
Key words and phrases: Bayesian nonparametric methods, INAR, low-count time series, violent crime counts.