Crime Radar in Rio

Rio de Janeiro is the second largest city in Brazil after São Paulo. We know that more than 6 million people live in Rio and approximately 12 million with the urban area. Rio is therefore one of the largest cities in the Americas. It is with this status that Rio won in 2009 the organization of the Olympic Games summer 2016. However, it is important to clarify that this metropolis is sometimes considered like one of the most dangerous cities in the world. Indeed, there are many crimes, traffic and offenses. The organization of the Olympic Games was therefore a real challenge for Rio because gangs and cartels strike in the favelas. Those are very dangerous places. In 2009, the number of favelas in Rio was estimated to be 968. The most famous favelas are Morro do Borel, Rocinha, Cidade de Deus, Bento Ribeiro and Vidigal. In 2010, according to the IBGE (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics), 1 393 314 people lived in the favelas of Rio, in other words 22% of the total population of the city. The main issue is security, that is why it is interesting to study an application like Crime Radar in Rio.

First of all, the Olympic Games were an opportunity for Eduardo Paes (mayor of Rio), to improve the safety of the inhabitants and make it safer in the favelas. The Igarapé Institute based in Rio has launched an application in order to help people (locals and tourists) to understand criminality in the city. What are the types of crimes? Where are the crimes? When do crimes happen? The application is an interactive map that uses open data and a Google Earth background. This tool mobilizes data from 42 police stations on crimes committed between January 2010 and March 2016. However, the application does not only aim to map the past crimes, Crime Radar in Rio also has to predict future crimes.

Then, to sum up, the application contains two maps very easy to use:

The First Map

The first map relates to past crimes symbolized by heat zones. When we zoom, we have gray circles that include the number of nearby crimes. Then when we zoom further, we have access to geolocated dots (with detailed information such as time and date) « Intentional Homicide », « Robbery and Homicide », « Police Killing » and « Assault and Homicide ».


Here, I made a zoom on the downtown of Rio. For instance, we observe that there has been an intentional homicide on January 7, 2015 at 6:44 am. The user can also filter by month or by type.

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The Second Map

The second map relates to the prediction of crimes thanks to data already stored on the first map (location and severity of the crime). The map is gridded with a caption « Crime Forecast », a scale model of risk, from green (lower probability) to red (high probability).


The model is based on three indicators: time, location and type of crime. The algorithm gives a risk score from these three indicators. For information, each side of a square measures 250m. Here I clicked on a square of downtown Rio sector. The square is yellow, so the risk is moderate. In addition, the application also displays the color (or risk) for each part of the day for the next days. Furthermore, the inhabitant or tourist can directly enter the address of his home or his hotel. The application is therefore very easy to use.

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So, Crime Radar is the first crime forecasting tool in the world that is accessible to the public. Robert Muggah, research director and program coordinator for the security of citizens in the Igarapé Institute, claims to have worked primarily with government and private actors such as Via Science to create this application. Robert Muggah also explains that « We have over an 85 percent accuracy of mirroring risk against actual events. The beauty of machine learning is that this improves over time. The more data, the more information you feed into it, the higher-resolution your risk projections are going to be« . Some security experts have pointed out that considerable risks remain around the city, especially in the favelas and poor neighborhoods.

The Olympic Games have probably exposed criminality levels in Rio to a wider audience. Robert Muggah says also that « The idea is to create a reliable source of information rather than rely on episodic news reports which contribute to a sense of hysteria. Our goal is to make what are already publicly available statistics accessible and actionable for citizens« .

Now we can do some analysis of areas with a great part of Rio crimes. Moreover, we can try to show a link between the area with many crimes and neighborhoods considered as favelas.

Maps : Crime Radar in Rio / Rio’s Favelas (in 2008)

Here are three examples that show the same location, with on the left the map application in Crime Radar in Rio and on the right the map of Rio’s favelas in 2008 produced by the Rio Prefecture:


Here the neighborhood Santa Cruz (west of the city).



Here the neighborhoods Santissimo and Bangu (west of the city).



Here the neighborhoods around Barros Filho (north of the city).

Finally, the police could use this tool to guide their « proximity policing ». The Crime Radar map on predictions offers a clear preview of the intensity of the criminality according to the time of day and day of the week. Colin Gounden, CEO of Via Science also adds that Crime Radar in Rio is « a way to help citizens take action to promote their own security and safety rather than relying exclusively on the police« .

To see the map of Rio’s favelas in 2008:

Sources :

Brésil / Coupe du monde et Jeux olympiques à Rio de Janeiro : quel « legs urbain » ?

Les favelas de Rio de Janeiro aujourd’hui: localisation et chiffres

Jobin Maxime