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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.

School Gun Violence: Lessons Learned & Hope for the Future

Gun Violence. It’s a topic that has been dominating the headlines starting with the theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, and then ignited a national bonfire of outrage and sadness with the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting from Dec. 14, 2012. It’s continued with more shootings, including the recent event at Lone Star College in Houston on Jan. 22, 2013. The issue has become even hotter, as now our schools have become seemingly common settings for mass shootings.

With each of these tragic shootings, I hear people ask about things like warning signs, and question who knew about these potential threats – and most importantly, why nothing was done. These are the same questions I ask myself.

The other trend we’re seeing explode on the national scene, is the question who is to blame? This has triggered a national debate on the controversial issue of gun control, video game violence, and mental health. While I’ve gotten caught up in the whirlwind of these important topics we face as a society, I also couldn’t help but wonder if we’re using all of the tools and technology that is available today to keep students, and our children safe.

It’s interesting to note, that when students are provided a way to confidentially share information with school officials about problems – they will! And this information is often used to stop crime, solve cases, and avoid tragedies like suicides. For example, Douglas County School District in Colorado has helped prevent a growing number of suicides by having a trusted mobile app available where students can provide tips to school officials. You can read more about this success story here.

But having the right tools in place often times isn’t enough. Take the Lone Star College shooting for example. According coverage in The Huffington Post the Lone Star College System had both an emergency alert system in place to warn students of possible scenarios like this, as well as an active shooter preparedness plan. It appears there was a break-down in both systems.

For example, according to accounts, many students learned of the shooting from media, or from the college web site, even though they had the emergency alert application installed on their phones. One theory of the failure of the emergency alert system is that many of the buildings on campus have limited, to no cell reception.

Secondarily, the particular situation at Lone Star College did not fit the definition of an active shooter in the preparedness manual, potentially stopping action, or creating some confusion. So while the institution had taken steps to prepare for this type of scary scenario through technology and training, some of these unexpected problems led to unaware students, and possibly confused staff, and local police. Luckily it didn’t turn into a broader tragedy.

Finally, in terms of preventing these crimes in the future, there is likely to be new legislation, as well as national programs to keep students and our children safer at school. We also expect to see a list of lessons learned in how to better respond to these situations in the future. While we know we can never fully prevent these tragedies, we know we can do more; we know we can do better.



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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Balancing Transparency and Citizen Safety

Photo by WEBN-TV via Flickr

Last Sunday evening, officers were dispatched to investigate a call of an armed subject. When Aurora Police Department officers arrived on the scene, they concluded that is was domestic-related and subsequently surrounded the residence where it was purported that an armed male was held up.

More than a dozen police officers were present. They surrounded the residence, along with several other houses in the immediate vicinity. Officers heard a single gunshot ring out and immediately entered the home where they located a male with a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

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The Future of Policing

I saw this video yesterday and I thought it would be fun to share it here. It’s a little animation about how police work will be in the future. Amazingly, a lot of this technology already exists, but hasn’t yet matriculated into the law enforcement system. I also think this is a pretty accurate picture of what policing might be like in 20 years or so (well, minus the jet packs and areal bikes).

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