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Connect with Your Citizens Anywhere They Want - CityConnect: New Mobile App for Law Enforcement

Timely Crime Data that is Easy to Interpret Leads to Better Law Enforcement Decisions

Organizations of all types, especially law enforcement agencies, are being buried in Big Data. As defined by Wikipedia, the term Big Data  represents data so large and complex that it becomes difficult to process.

The same problem can also referred to as Information Overload, and aside from the technical challenges to Big Data, too much information can be difficult to access, store, share, and be useful. In today’s more electronic world, we aren’t in jeopardy of being buried in paper – rather the biggest threat of all is that the data goes unused.

Useful information leads to better knowledge, and thus better decision-making.  A typical approach to managing data and information can be:

  1. Collect raw data
  2. Sort into useful information
  3. Analyze information
  4. Share findings
  5. Information is turned into useful knowledge

The Information Sharing Environment (ISE) provides vital information about terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, and homeland security to analysts, operators, and investigators in the U.S. government. From ISE’s Website:

A fundamental component of effective enterprise-wide information sharing, for example, is the use of information systems that regularly capture relevant data and make it broadly available to authorized users in a timely and secure manner.

While focused on activities mostly related to terrorism, ISE acknowledges its ideas of data sharing are extremely effective in local law enforcement as well.

In law enforcement, timely and accurate information is vital; as untimely or inaccurate information simply causes problems. PublicEngines audits show that up to 25% of all law enforcement data housed in RMS or CAD systems in the average agency is not accurate – often mislabeled or improperly mapped. This can lead to a poor allocation of resources and confusion.

However, some agencies struggle with sharing relevant and timely information at all. Time spent reporting, analyzing, and distributing information can be tedious, and time-consuming. And with up to 59% of agencies stating there is a lack of staff for crime analysis, it’s no surprise the critical information is often not shared.

The lessons are clear – sharing data that is relevant, timely, and easy to interpret, is an effective way to become more efficient in law enforcement.

PublicEngines recently announced it has added Email Reports to its widely popular CommandCentral Analytics solution. You can read the announcement here: PublicEngines Launches Email Reports for CommandCentral

Creating more tools that allow for easier sharing of critical information is a step in the right direction of tackling this challenge of too much information for law enforcement. This is especially true when the information shared is easy-to-read and interpret. The more people that have access to timely and valuable information, the better law enforcement decisions will be made.

So, how is timely and relevant information shared at your agency? Do you have an internal process, meeting, or technology solution that works particularly well for you? Let us know in the comments section.

Happy New Year – A Letter From the CEO

Looking Back on The Year That Was

This past year has seen a lot of change for PublicEngines and our products. CrimeReports, CommandCentral, and TipSoft all went through new product updates that made them better than ever. One deeply rewarding milestone for us was being recognized and ranked #297 on the Inc 500/5000 by Inc. Magazine as one of the fastest growing companies in the US.  This is an honor in which we deeply appreciate and recognize our customer’s and partner’s support for helping us get there.  To be mentioned within the list means that many more communities are safer now than even just the year before. And we’re working hard to continue that trend for 2013.

Around mid-year we launched a new Website - www.publicengines.com - full of information about our products, recent news articles, and testimonials that highlight how other customers are lowering crime in their jurisdictions. I invite you to come back often to sign up for our bi-monthly thought-leadership webinar series, read the blog, or watch a training video.

And finally, while we launched new and improved versions of each product, we also announced CityConnect, a customizable mobile application designed to help law enforcement agencies to better connect with the public. CityConnect was recently recognized by Law Officer Magazine in its annual Best of the Best New Products for 2012. We’re excited about giving citizens a single-source app where they can find any and all information made available from their local law enforcement agency – including  social media feeds, the agency website, blog, crime map, and tipping program.

Building Momentum That Lasts

Turning to 2013, we continue to focus on providing law enforcement agencies great products to help them better fulfill their mission of preventing, reducing, and solving crime.  A survey conducted in October indicated that the market is poised for new and improved analytics, reporting mechanisms, and greater administrative control within CommandCentral.  I’m pleased to inform you that we’ll deliver you these and many more new features in 2013. Our goal is to help crime analysts perform their jobs in a quicker and more efficient manner, as well as empower their officers with information that leads to better tactical planning; resulting in lower crime rates.

Our focus with CrimeReports is to build features that help citizens become more active in sharing information with their local law enforcement agency and their friends about crime in their area. It’s rooted in the belief that a more informed public is a safer public. Stay tuned to for product updates that make the site easier to navigate and more intuitive to use.

Of course, one of the biggest trends facing us all is the increasing use of smart phones.  They are seemingly in the hands of everyone.  That was the reason why we announced CityConnect as a mobile application last fall. So far, we’ve received tremendous interest in the product and will continue to invest further in mobile solutions that help law enforcement agencies take advantage of these increasingly important devices.

Finally, you will also see improvements to TipSoft – our anonymous tipping service – including direct integration to CityConnect and other capabilities to better receive and process anonymous information from the public. You’ll also see TipSoft make a big splash in the education environment as more and more school administrators adopt the platform as the premier anti-bullying solution.

Your Success Is What Drives Us

At PublicEngines, we measure our success based on our customers success. That’s why  we want to help law enforcement agencies and local governments be more productive, better engaged with their community, and able to do more even though they may have less budget and/or personnel than in years prior.  We strive to provide great products and exceptional client services. But we also know that there is always room for improvement.  I invite you to let us know what we can do to make you more successful. Whether you’re a customer with a feature suggestion or just curious about seeing our products in action, I encourage you to reach out to my team directly by calling 1-888-888 CRIME.

Cheers to Making 2013 a Safer World For Us All.

William Kilmer
Chief Executive Officer
PublicEngines

Crime Rates on the Rise, No One is Safe. Reality?

Media Thrives on Audience Attention

The first recording of sensationalism with regards to journalism took place in about 1840 according to Merriam-Webster.com. And throughout the years, modern media outlets have been well known to camp out on topics and stories that draw audiences – crime, sex, and polarizing statements that run against the grain of the general societal value. These topics and others like them have a way of drawing and keeping attention. And while the original goal of news organizations was to inform the public of community-based current events with impartiality, today’s goal is to drive revenue through ad dollars. The thought here is, the longer you keep an individual on your page or glued to your channel, the more valuable your ad space is to advertisers and the higher your potential revenues.

So if the goal is higher revenue, why would the media choose to focus on other topics? Mind you there is nothing wrong per se with media coverage on these topics. After all if an audience grows weary, they go away – a natural process of a free enterprise system. But the result of a long attention span on any one issue shapes sociological mindset that may not necessarily reflect reality.

Take the perception of crime for instance. The typical adult will tell you that crime is up, that our communities are less safe then they were 40 years ago, and that they can’t possibly allow their children to play outside by themselves. In fact a Gallup Poll in 2007 noted that 7 in 10 people believe crime is on the rise. In short, there is a social conscience being shaped that leads the average individual to believe that our police agencies could be doing more, that our politicians are all crooked, and that our tax dollars are being to wasted.

Numbers Trump Perception

However perception is sometimes different from reality. According to the Unified Crime Report (UCR) composed by the FBI, violent crime is down 13.4% throughout the nation from 2001-2010.

Violent Crime Statistics

And across the board, in other categories, statistics tell a similar story – violent crime, property crime, and numbers of persons arrested have all decreased over the same time frame.

Show Crime Statistics in a Palatable Format

So how can police departments inform a citizenry that crime is down, communities are safer, and mandated officials are by-in-large doing an admirable job?

One of the quickest and most influential ways to reach a population is through the very media that focuses on the crime to draw audiences in the first place. But in order to convince the media that crime is actually down, police departments need to prove it with facts and figures. Over the last five years crime maps and agency crime mapping has given rise to data visualization tools – that is, technology that makes it easier for the average individual to understand crime trends through graphs, charts, and heat maps. Many agencies have been taking crime reports housed in their RMS and placing incidents on a map – like our very own CrimeReports.com. This allows the general public to see for them themselves the crime that is taking place around them and allows them to make informed decisions about their response to crime, where they choose to live, work, and even vacation.

Another tool born from data visualization are products that focus on crime analytics.  Agencies are using crime analysis to create new policing methodologies that help departments reduce crime even further, in some cases prevent it altogether, and finally, build reports that can in turn be used to show the public actual crime trends.

And of course there is social media. The latest Facebook numbers show a community of around 900 million users. And according to SocialBakers.com, nearly 50% of the US population has an account. When comparing that with Internet users, the number rises to 65% of all people on the net in the US are on the social network. Agencies have been using the platform for detective work for some time – Mashable recently noting that a poll of 1200 agencies where 85% use social media to solve crime and track down perpetrators. But what if you gave your community reason to follow you on Facebook or Twitter? An agency who utilized those tools — updating it daily in order to shape opinion through fact – now becomes its own news source and perception has no way of being distorted in the first place.

The Pen is Mightier Than the Sword

So if knowledge is power and the media uses it to attract an audience, why can’t you? In fact we’re interested to hear what you think. Sound off in the comments section below. How you’re utilizing technology and communications to impact community perception regarding public safety and agency effectiveness?  

Pensacola PD Reaches Out to Local Citizens


Photo by divemasterking2000 via Flickr

Just came across this great news story about CrimeReports from Fox 10 in Pensacola, Florida. Near the end a man who runs a community center comments that a map like our could harm people who live in high-crime areas. What are your thoughts?

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Roswell, GA, Shares Crime Data with Citizens

The Roswell, GA, Police Department recently partnered with CrimeReports. Check out the video below.

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