After using software to track location-based crime data that helped pinpoint crime patterns for more than three months, the Philadelphia Police Department is looking to expand -- the software will soon support the Fire Department and the Office of Emergency Management.

And the expansion makes sense, given that the location analytics software -- by GIS firm Esri -- has already proved beneficial: Within the first few weeks of use, one Philadelphia PD detective solved 17 homicides and burglaries.

GIS Project Manager for Public Safety Grant Ervin said that although the department has been using GIS data for nearly 20 years, the new system puts the data from different public safety departments in one central repository that can be viewed across the board.

But challenges are still to be expected. “The biggest thing is control of governance,” Ervin said. “Everyone is worried about data -- who owns it, how it gets out, especially when it comes to emergency management and law enforcement information.”

According to local media, the new shared system will prevent each of the three departments from functioning on three different systems, a process that would be costlier to the city.

Photo: The Philadelphia Police Department deployed Esri software for tracking location-based crime data and will soon be sharing data with the Fire Department and the Office of Emergency Management. Courtesy of the Philadelphia Police Department. 

Sarah Rich, Staff Writer Sarah Rich  |  Staff Writer

In 2008, Sarah Rich graduated from California State University, Chico, where she majored in news-editorial journalism and minored in sociology. Since 2010, Sarah has written for Government Technology magazine and covers a spectrum of public-sector IT topics, including cloud computing, transparency, broadband, and other innovative projects and trends. She currently lives in Sacramento, Calif.