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School Safety GIS Ups the Ante with Social Media and Georeferenced Floor Plans

Thursday, August 9th, 2018

The U.S. has been rocked by tragic school shootings and other violence over the past years, with very little deterrent to this increasing trend.

At the Esri User Conference 2018, a talk entitled “School Safety GIS – Survey123” was conducted by GIS specialist for Detroit Public Schools, Randall Raymond, and Officer Adele Gardner, Detroit Public Schools Community District Police Department, who outlined the work they have been doing over the past year to use social media and other geospatial tools to detect, analyze and visualize potential dangers to kids in schools.

“We were able to create a social media mapping feed that was out-of-the-box Esri available and discovered while it did what we wanted it to do in some ways, it was very manual and labor intensive,” said Raymond. “You needed someone to constantly be looking at the feeds that were coming in. We partnered with Esri and they suggested a company named DataCapable, that was doing social media for event detection, event notification and event mapping for the power and gas industry. We figured it was the same for a big power company and they would be interested in what we’re doing. They retasked some of what their software does to give us more analytics and give us more understanding of potentially dangerous situations happening at schools by monitoring for specific events. We could use machine learning and artificial intelligence to go through messages and quickly determine the validity of them, confidence in them and decide if there is action that needed to be taken.”

Raymond retired from upper administration in the Detroit Public Schools in 2013 and has continued the work with the school system since that time, helping with high school programs and consulting with their police department. He works with Officer Gardner helping them to continue to learn to use their ArcGIS tools and do more strategic thinking about deployment of police resources.

The value of social media has been long recognized by Officer Gardner, who has extensive examples of problems with kids in Detroit Public Schools and social media being used to organize the meetings where kids to go to events in the city and rob people and steal from cars, etc. But privacy is obviously a very big issue, according to Raymond.
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