May 6, 2001 By Bill McGarigle
Officers coming on duty can check on criminal activity in their respective areas and plan patrols appropriately. Detectives can identify hot spots, look for crime patterns and analyze data for associations. The governor and superintendent of the State Police also use the system to hold police chiefs and troop commanders accountable for what happens in their jurisdictions.
Dover Police Chief Keith Faulkner uses RTCR to monitor trends and encourages others to do the same. The Dover Police Department is also using RTCR to develop monthly statistical analyses and maps. The chief recently learned of a series of auto thefts from RTCR reports and reallocated personnel to address the issue. Using RTCR, investigators were able to identify similar thefts in neighboring cities.
Need for Speed
Theoretically, a report from a mobile unit can take up to 12 hours to arrive at a workstation, but Delaware State Police Detective Joe Rose said reports are reaching his desk in 10 minutes. Rose uses RTCR primarily to keep an eye on when, where and what types of crimes are happening in his area.
Before RTCR, Rose said he received crime reports through the mail, a process that often took a day or two, with another couple of days before they reached his desk. "By then, the chances of getting a good lead were mostly gone," he said. "With RTCR, we get the information faster -- [we] dont have worry about reports getting lost in the mail and [we] dont have to rely on a paper trail."
Issues and Enhancements
DPS has several projects under way to improve RTCR operations. One is the improvement of address accuracy. Starkey said that, at present, only 70 percent of crime reports can be automatically geocoded. The problem stems from a lack of street addressing in rural communities and not having a statewide street-centerline file. Consequently, RTCR originally used base maps developed by different cities and counties, some of which are incompatible. The agency is currently sorting out these problems with the help of the counties. At the same time, rural areas are converting route and box numbers to conventional street addresses.
The agency is also preparing to develop a realtime auto accident reporting system.
Unfortunately, the limited bandwidth available for the mobile units is an issue that will have to wait for advances in communications technology. Jason Dong of Enterprise Information Solutions Inc. -- the firm that provided GIS consulting for the RTCR system -- said the bandwidth of the cellular digital packet data (CDPD) link between mobile units and stations is 20KHz. "Thats enough for mobile units to receive textual crime reports, but map files are too large for the existing bandwidth," Dong added. "That service will evolve as wireless technology matures."
You may use or reference this story with attribution and a link to