Equifax National Decision Systems has added to one of its core products a data base that can help bankers choose safe locations for branches and automated teller machines.

The San Diego-based unit of Equifax Inc. is incorporating the CAP-Crime data base from CAP Index Inc. into its Infomark for Windows product.

CAP-Crime assigns risk scores to geographic areas based on the number of crimes occurring there. The data base can give scores for any area in the United States for the following types of crimes: homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft.

Also available: a weighted average of the crimes most threatening to business, called the CAP Index.

Banks looking for information on a particular geographical area can focus a risk assessment to a single census track, which on average contains about 4,200 people. (The city of Philadelphia, for example, can be broken into 365 census tracks.)

"The idea is to provide crime information for businesses so they know what level of security they need to put into place at their various locations," said Steven Aurand, president of CAP Index.

The data base allows banks to make security "decisions based upon some concrete information available through a source such as CAP-Crime as opposed to someone's gut feel for the marketplace," added Jeff Boaz, industry director of banking and finance for Equifax National Decision Systems.

About half of the nation's top 50 banks use Infomark, which brings data base information from a variety of third parties into one place.

The Infomark system is used by banks for site selection and optimization, customer segmentation, and other marketing applications, Mr. Boaz said.

For banks, the CAP-Crime data could help in deciding where to locate branches and ATMs for maximum effect and minimum risk.

The data base has regulatory applications as well in California, where legislation requires financial institutions to conduct a crime risk assessment for each of their ATM sites, Mr. Aurand said.

Many financial institutions in that state are turning to CAP Index technology for that evaluation project, he said.

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