• United States
Executive Editor

Tool gives police look at trends

Nov 24, 20033 mins
Enterprise Applications

Software being piloted by the San Francisco Police Department will let officers graphically track and analyze crime trends such as the frequency of drug arrests near schools or a rash of auto thefts in a particular neighborhood.

San Francisco officials last week previewed the software, called Crime Mapping and Analysis for Public Safety (CrimeMAPS). The system culls information from city systems, including the police department’s record-management system – which stores arrest and incident reports officers file – and the city’s 911 call center. The software then correlates that information with geographic reference data such as congressional districts, addresses and redevelopment zones.

Police officers and analysts will be able to run queries based on search factors such as time period, type of crime, neighborhood and distance from schools or parks, says Erich Seamon, GIS manager for the City and County of San Francisco. The information will be transmitted over the city’s secure high-speed fiber network, he says. “The only way that someone can get access to the system is to sit at a machine that has been designated for a public safety official,” Seamon says.

San Francisco’s Department of Telecommunications and Information Services (DTIS) built CrimeMAPS with a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice. Among U.S. municipalities, San Francisco is a pioneer in geographic information systems (GIS). The city has worked with GIS technologies since 1992 and over the past two years, DTIS has been developing an Enterprise GIS program.

The CrimeMAPS system consists of two Windows 2000 servers running Microsoft Active Directory, IBM’s DB2 database technology and spatial data applications from the ESRI. The geographic data is maintained in a storage-area network built with EMC products, Seamon says. Terminal emulation software from Citrix pushes the application out to desktop clients for heavy-duty analysis; lighter use requires only a Web browser, he says.

At this point CrimeMAPS is not a real-time source of crime-analysis information; it’s updated daily with fresh data from the 911 call-center systems and the police department’s records-management system, Seamon says. The city plans to upgrade the police department’s records management system, which will enable a more real-time transactional process.

Mobile access also is being considered.

“There is the possibility of pushing this out over a secure Wi-Fi network” to patrol cars if DTIS can adequately address security concerns, Seamon says. “We’re not doing it now, but we’re looking to do that in the next six months to a year.”