Until recently, law enforcement agencies in Delaware were dependent on paper for processing crime reports, analyses and maps. Processing such data often took from one week to a month or more. By the time investigators received the information, opportunities for proactive decision-making were often lost.

Although crime in Delaware was declining in the 1990s (consistent with crime statistics nationwide), then-Gov. Thomas Carper wanted to ensure that the downward trend continued. In 1998 he requested a crime-tracking system.

Two years later, Delawares enterprise-wide realtime crime reporting (RTCR) system was completed.

On the Fast Track

Department of Public Safety (DPS) Project Manager Elayne Starkey said that, although the project had input from law enforcement agencies statewide, RTCRs critical success factors were political will, open planning and a state-of-the-art design.

"The project had high-level executive sponsorship from the outset. On a weekly basis, the governor was asking my boss, his cabinet secretary, how RTCR was coming along," she said. "That prompted my boss to keep on me to make sure we were on track, on budget and on time."

From the outset, stakeholders in Delaware law enforcement, justice information offices and other agencies were invited to take an active role in the project -- identifying system requirements, features, design and development. DPS headed up the project and assembled teams of advisory and technical representatives from various agencies.

Following a project plan developed by Starkey, the group began with a preliminary needs assessment, meeting with each of the states 43 law enforcement agencies individually. Responses at all levels of law enforcement supported the concept, and a subsequent cost benefit analysis indicated it was feasible. "At that point," Starkey said, "we went to the Legislature to secure funding."

The response was a $3 million grant to help local law enforcement agencies acquire the technologies needed for participation in a realtime crime reporting system.

Building It

By December 1999, Delaware had a turnkey system based on criteria established by the project team and the law enforcement community. It included the hardware, software, installation, maintenance, warranty and training. The total cost of development was $732,287, most of which went to software, system integration and installation.

Today, officers in the field type reports on mobile data computers running customized software. The report is transmitted through a secured wireless communications module to the state network and stored in the Delaware Justice Information System database. From there, the report goes to an Oracle 8 database management system. The addition of a spatial data cartridge transforms the database management system into an object-relational database management system capable of handling GIS applications as well as other types of data.

An automatic geocoder reads the street address in the report and attempts to match it with an appropriate address segment in a Delaware street centerline file. If the two match, the geocoder assigns map coordinates to the address in the report, enabling the GIS mapping application to display the address as a point on a map and be included in proximity and distance searching. User requests for maps and related crime information are made through a standard Web browser. A Web server then uses Intergraphs GeoMedia Web Enterprise to retrieve the data. Web Enterprise is an open architecture platform that interacts with all major GIS formats and enables intelligent RTCR maps to be sent via the Delaware intranet.

Reports with geocoded crime addresses can be available to workstations statewide within minutes of being sent from a mobile unit. Users from the governors office to the DPS can review reports in tabular form. And with the straightforward graphical user interface, they can generate one or more map layers by selecting parameters of interest, such as type of crime, area and time frame. Each type of crime is represented on the