Social network analysis is a mathematical method to describe the structures of street groups. It is increasingly helpful in identifying high-risk individuals to engage with community-based interventions.
One tool researchers have used to identify high-risk group members is social network analysis (SNA). Yale sociologist Andrew Papachristos has developed a mathematical method to identify the structures of street groups using connections contained within police records of arrests, field stops, and similar data. SNA recognizes that the overwhelming majority of suspects and victims in homicides and shootings know one another. In fact, Papachristos has demonstrated that they are often part of a closely linked social network — that is, shooters and victims tend to be closely linked to many other shooters and victims.
Research on these social networks has found that individuals with links to street groups and those closely linked to homicide victims are at elevated risk of becoming shooters or victims themselves. SNA has helped communities identify group members to notify. Using co-arrest and field stop records, SNA can create graphs of connections between street group members. A GVI partnership can use these maps to identify “brokers” — people with a profusion of group-related connections — and people closely connected to homicide victims and suspects. These high-risk group members can then be given custom notifications to give the city’s antiviolence message the greatest reach and to disrupt street group networks.
SNA TRAINING WORKSHOP | JUNE 3, 2016
We live in a "connected world," not metaphorically, but literally. The ways in which people, groups, organizations, and institutions are connected to each other affects what we feel, think, and do. The growing field of network science has been used to understand a wide range of behavior from the people we marry and the votes we cast to the diseases we catch and the spread of information. This workshop, instructed by Andrew Papachristos of Yale University, is designed to give criminal justice and violence prevention practitioners a basic understanding and working knowledge of social network analysis and, specifically, how it applies to understanding gun violence in U.S. cities. The workshop will contain several “hands on” and interactive models that will walk attendees through the basic computer, data, and analytic skills needed to integrate network analysis into their programmatic efforts.
Tammatha Woodhouse, principal of Excel Academy in Baltimore: "I gave teachers an article by [Yale professor Andrew Papachristos]. It’s about treating gun violence as an epidemic, the way we do with HIV. I felt that the important takeaway for my kids was the idea that bad behavior of people in your social network – your friends and neighbors and relatives – can place you at high risk if you’re interacting with them on a daily basis. Some of the students could relate to the idea of changing your friends. Like, “If I don’t smoke marijuana, why am I hanging out with folks who smoke it?”
National Network partner Andrew Papachristos and his colleague Gary Slutkin "have started to look at gun violence as a public health epidemic, and how to take a holistic approach and reinterpret the problem."
When researchers looked "at gun violence the way epidemiologists study disease — examining the way it spread by social connections. And like a virus, they found that there were certain people who were especially at risk of being touched by it."
"[Professor] Patton [of Columbia University] is trying to create an algorithm that will monitor and identify who might be the next victim or shooter."
NNSC research partner Andrew Papachristos penned a recent op-ed to discuss the methodology and motivation behind Chicago's Strategic Subject List.
"Along with the mass killers and rifle-toting terrorists who are driving the nation’s gun debate are New York’s own gangbangers, who are behind the triggers of nearly half the city’s shootings, officials said. And when gunplay across the five boroughs turns deadly, gang members are quite often responsible, accounting for 130, or 40%, of the city’s murders this year, police said."
Andrew Papachristos is a professor at Yale University and a Senior Research Advisor for the National Network. He recently published this article as part of a New York Times' series asking: "Can Crime be Ethically Predicted?" Professor Papachristos offers a nuanced view of how data can be used in crime prevention.
" Police plan to analyze criminal social networks in an attempt to reveal who is most likely to be involved in violent crime, either as an offender or as a victim."