Oakland Is Where the Heart Is

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The FBI recently released a list of America’s most dangerous cities. The top five : (5) Cleveland, OH; (4) St Louis, MO; (3) Memphis, TN; (2) Oakland, CA; (1) Detroit, MI.  While violent crime has dropped 4.4 percent nationwide in the last decade, according to the FBI, it is still very much a problem in these and many cities nationwide. If you don’t call any of these places home, you may be breathing a sigh of relief.

Violent Crime Is a Tough Problem

I grew up in Oakland and called the city home for 18 solid years. I don’t live there currently, but have a very special place in my heart for this eclectic city. It’s easy to be alarmed by ugly statistics—90 murders in 2013, a 19.5 percent poverty rate, and 19 percent of adults lack a high school diploma. The city just elected a new mayor, but these critical issues reach beyond City Hall. How do we deal with these complex problems?

For the past year or so I’ve worked in Silicon Valley, watching and experiencing amazing technology solve complex problems. What if we use event processing software to capture events around the city? Or combat crime by predicting where it’s going to happen before it occurs. Solving violent crimes could start many years before the potential act. By using software, we could spot the areas, or even the individuals, who most need assistance and guidance.

Enterprise organizations know that without event processing software, they find out about issues both positive and negative after they’ve occurred, when nothing can be done to change the course of events, and the same applies to a city. By letting small events or non-events take their course without discovery or intervention, we end up with individuals who contribute to the cycle of violence.

Capturing Events to Save Lives

Event processing can be customized based on patterns, decisions, and rules that cause the system to act on particular events. What if, when a juvenile enters a detention center (a fairly urgent event), the system signals that this individual is in need of some serious help. What if, when a fifth grader misses 20 days of school, that event is logged and based on the rule we’ve written (e.g. the student misses a total of 30 school days), the system schedules a social worker to visit the home.

Cities are complex and obviously software won’t fix all problems, but the idea is to take advantage of resources and technology right here in the Bay Area. I love Oakland and hope that one day it can be a safe place to walk, play, and live…no matter what neighborhood you live in.