Crime Analysis Yields Better Results for Catching Criminals
"GIS gives us a platform to build from," says Michael Urciuoli, GIS specialist, Philadelphia Police Headquarters. "We're able to provide applications that police personnel can use for daily decision making. We're also able to provide high-end analysis. GIS supports many of our mission requirements."
PPD is using ESRI ArcGIS 9.3 software, including ArcGIS Desktop and ArcGIS Server software. The geospatial platform manages more than 150 geographic data layers. The department's Crime Analysis and Mapping Unit geocodes more than 5,000 incidents each day and nearly 2.5 million incidents annually.
The types of services provided by the unit include printed maps, database reports, statistical graphs and charts, intranet mapping services, and ad hoc requests. The unit produces as many as 50 maps a week. This can include maps showing crime density, crime locations, police beats, arrests, calls for service, citations issued, and car accidents. Points of interest are also mapped. These include such sites as liquor-licensed establishments, surveillance camera locations, hospitals, nightclubs, shelters, and halfway houses. In addition, data on buildings, railways, sidewalks, alleys, and open areas is integrated into the GIS and available for mapping.
Special units served by the Crime Analysis and Mapping Unit include homicide, narcotics, major crimes, highway patrol, and the Crime Scene Unit. The Mapping Unit also serves the district attorney's office for court preparation by frequently providing maps for display in court. In addition, GIS maps are used at weekly computer statistics (COMPSTAT) meetings to review recent events, share work activities for each police district, and jointly plan future policing programs.
The unit currently has several GIS applications available to police personnel from any desktop, laptop computer, or mobile data console (MDC) via the department's intranet Web site. Every police vehicle is equipped with an MDC that allows officers to navigate through any of the intranet applications listed below from their car.
-- PhiCAMS--Web-based crime mapping software that supports analysis with tables, statistics, charts, and maps for incidents, arrests, and more -- Firearms Analysis System (FAS)--A firearms system that accepts firearms trace requests from detectives; transmits an electronic request to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); then receives the electronic response and enables mapping and analysis of the results -- Spike Detector--A specialized data mining solution for automatically detecting statistically significant changes in clusters of incident events and notifying officers and command staff about a newly detected cluster
PPD also makes available a public Web site where city residents can map the incidence of major crimes in Philadelphia. The crime mapping site uses existing GIS software and data that is updated nightly from PPD databases. A month's worth of crime data can be viewed and downloaded. Both the public site and the intranet mapping site were developed and are still maintained by Avencia, an ESRI business partner. The site provides citizens with a simple, accurate map display of crime across the city.
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