may fit the description given by the 911 caller.

Detectives in the crime center carry out five key tasks as soon as they receive 911 information:

  • 911/311 data review: analyzing any previous 911 and 311 information that relates to the current call.

  • Location analysis: reviewing data to garner intelligence on any previous crimes or events at the location.

  • Victim analysis: developing intelligence on the victim, such as the victim's known associates, enemies, previous addresses or involvement in crimes.

  • Pattern analysis: reading the data, including GIS maps, to look for trends in crimes that might relate to the current call.

  • Suspect analysis: using the data to find ties to the suspect -- relatives, tattoos, previous addresses, etc. -- to possibly tie the suspect to other crimes.

    "When [the officer] gets there, he now has more information about the scene, which will give him a running start. That's a huge difference," Onalfo said. "First we tell them what's been going on around that location -- here are the parolees or perpetrators who live in the area, here are similar crimes that have occurred in that area. Think of it as a super detective help desk."

    The crime center was the brainchild of Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, who hired Onalfo in 2003. "He said, 'I want to help the department do things by taking advantage of technologies that we don't use today,'" Onalfo said of Kelly.

    "The first piece was taking the old databases and putting them into a modern database with easy accessibility. So we built the data warehouse. The second piece was to buy and install the data wall, and build the room where the Real Time Crime Center houses the detectives."

    The crime center, which cost $11 million, is located directly adjacent to the NYPD's Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in police headquarters. In the case of an emergency, it can be converted from an intelligence gathering and analysis center for the NYPD to a regional EOC, with involvement from multiple agencies.

    Real-Time Snapshot

    The ability to place current 911 call information on GIS maps and analyze them in the Real Time Crime Center gives detectives a view of the city they've never had before.

    The crime center relies on MapInfo's MapXtreme, a Java-based application that allows the NYPD to visualize crime data on a map to determine relationships and trends that are more difficult to spot in typical paper reports.

    "You can put a map out on everything that's happening from a 911 perspective and get an idea of what the situation is within the city," said Jim Karpen, NYPD project manager at MapInfo. "The only way you could do this is with the data warehouse. Previously it was the precincts doing their own thing."

    Karpen said the company also provided customized analysis and pattern recognition functionality for the NYPD, which collects point data, aggregates it and depicts the information on a map, illustrating crime hot spots.

    "From an infrastructure point of view, it's scalable and intended for Linux-based servers," he continued. "But they're actually running this on a mainframe environment [IBM zSeries], which is very unique for us and for IBM. But it's Linux based. We had to prove to them that our MapXtreme Java technology was open enough to port that."

    Karpen said the technology gives users more than GIS mapping.

    "We think of GIS as more than creating maps. That's already been done," he said. "What we're trying to bring out with MapXtreme technology is location intelligence. Doing your standard queries and requests for information, and now, instead of just getting the information in report format, bringing in the geographic aspect.

    "Police Chief Kelly can get up in the middle of the night, sign in, see what's going on and view the maps if he needs to."

    Jim McKay, Justice and Public Safety Editor  |  Justice and Public Safety Editor