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Motorola Solutions Cuts Socrata Out of Crime Mapping Tool

After the split from Socrata happens in June, Motorola Solutions will continue to support CrimeReports for the many agencies and websites that have come to rely on its open data for crime reporting.

Socrata and Motorola Solutions are ending a partnership that powered a crime-mapping tool, about a year after Socrata's acquisition by Tyler Technologies, a competitor of Motorola.

It’s been just over three years since Socrata, a digital government software company and a pioneer in the open data movement, announced its partnership with Motorola Solutions to improve, an interactive online map owned by Motorola that pulls crime data from records management and computer aided dispatch systems around the country. In that time, CrimeReports has become a resource for agencies to share local police work with interested citizens, and exactly what Motorola will do with it remains to be seen.

More than 1,000 law enforcement agencies contribute data to CrimeReports, according to its website.

Tyler Technologies spokesman Saf Rabah confirmed the split will happen in June, and customers and products of Tyler Technologies will be unaffected.

“When [Socrata] was an independent company, we partnered to bring our expertise in open data … to modernize the [CrimeReports] platform that was serving up that data on the Web and on mobile devices,” he said. “The relationship wasn’t going to be perpetual. We had the time horizon, but I think that time horizon was accelerated by the acquisition of Socrata last year by Tyler. Tyler and Motorola do compete in the public safety space, so I can only assume that that’s the reason.”

Motorola Solutions offered an emailed statement last week from spokeswoman Kathy Van Buskirk, assuring that will carry on without the involvement of Socrata.

“CrimeReports will soon have a new crime map (expected in June timeframe) that will be seamlessly implemented and will continue displaying crime incidents, uninterrupted, for the public,” the statement read. “The new map will gain updates including: an enhanced look and feel for better user experience, a universal search bar for easy queries, and the option for more frequent data updates pending agency settings. Overall, no action is needed for customers or community to continue using CrimeReports.”

News of the split between Socrata and Motorola Solutions was disconcerting for some, such as market developer Brittany Suszan of SpotCrime, who feared the loss of a major open data resource. She said the partnership was a major step for open data, and she pointed out a trend of large corporations acquiring crime-mapping sites like hers: LexisNexis took over RAIDSonline with the acquisition of BAIR Analytics in 2015, was developed by The Omega Group which was bought by TriTech Software Systems (now CentralSquare Technologies) in 2016, and CrimeReports was run by a company called Public Engine before Motorola Solutions bought it.

“All three of those sites have terms of use that say you can’t copy down information, the press can’t copy it and post it to their website, and it kind of puts restrictions on the ability to collect and share the information. So when Socrata and Motorola partnered, it was a big event, because now Socrata has the ability to publish this crime information through an open data API,” she said. “With the way these sites have been set up in the past, they’ve been really restrictive over sites like SpotCrime collecting the public crime information and republishing it, even if police agencies are pointing us to those sites. So we were really happy to see that. The police data initiative has taken off, open data has taken off, so it was really amazing to see a company like Motorola making this data available now.”

Andrew Westrope is managing editor of the Center for Digital Education. Before that, he was a staff writer for Government Technology, and previously was a reporter and editor at community newspapers. He has a bachelor’s degree in physiology from Michigan State University and lives in Northern California.