Building a new window into crime

By mashing together search, BI and mapping, police can now gather real-time crime data from multiple agencies with crime records and incident reports

Or an officer, for example, could type a partial license plate number into the search interface and pull up any other information (such as dispatcher notes, detective interviews or incident reports) that included that same partial license plate number, Castor adds.

The BI portion of the system allows a patrol sergeant at the beginning of a shift to review an analysis of calls that came into the center within the past 24 hours in a text-based or visual format (with the maps). The sergeant can then decide where to send officers based on crime trends.

The project, which cost about US$70,000, has had its challenges. Information Builders spent about six weeks with Erlanger learning what fields of information were the most important to search and where the data was located within those fields, Castor says.

In addition, the ESRI server was at first overwhelmed by the volume of data being sent for mapping. To fix that problem, he says, the system was changed so the map doesn't update for every call that comes through to dispatchers, but only when a user clicks to update a key performance indicator that includes that location.

Fields says the project's success will be judged in part by whether the department can continue to handle the 5 percent to 10 percent annual uptick in calls to the communications center while maintaining its recent 1 percent to 2 percent annual rate of increase in crimes solved -- all without having to add more personnel.

Wayne Eckerson, director of research at The Data Warehousing Institute, says the most-common Internet mashups -- like those that link Google Maps with another data source -- are showing BI managers new possibilities.

"These demonstrations are opening the imaginations of folks as to the types of applications that are possible and getting users and management out of the rut of just expecting and asking for run-of-the-mill management reports," he says. "These mashups can potentially add information that makes it possible to make better operational decisions on the front lines -- or anywhere else."

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Tags searchbusiness intelligencemashupspolicemapping

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