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Data Analytics Help Michigan Police Cut Crime

Web-based dashboard integrates crime and traffic crash data to improve operational efficiency.

by / July 30, 2013

Imagine a society where police officers regularly stay ahead of crime and stop criminal activity before it happens. Sound too good to be true? Think again. Police departments in Oakland County, Mich., are keeping crime down throughout the region thanks to the use of advanced crime analytics software.

More than 80 police agencies in the Courts and Law Enforcement Management Information Systems (CLEMIS) Consortium are now better analyzing crime trends and strategically deploying resources with CrimeView Dashboard, a policing and operations management system by The Omega Group.

The dashboard includes seven data streams: arrestees (home address), citations, crashes, incidents (9-1-1 calls for service), offenses (crimes from the case management system), parolees (home address) and sex offenders (home address). These data sets are available with three years of historical information, and will soon include information up to five years back.

CrimeView has already proven its worth in the region. According to Jason McKinley, a senior application specialist with the city of Ann Arbor, police were able to use Data Driven Approaches to Crime and Traffic Safety (DDACTS) to integrate location-based crime and traffic crash data to deploy resources more efficiently to stop criminal activity.

“We had an issue in which a specific individual was breaking and entering into residential homes and seeking out computer equipment,” McKinley said. “The detective was able to look at the patterns of the movements, and time of day and week, and actually looked at staging a particular house to catch that individual. While the individual did not break into the staged house, they did arrest the individual that night.”

The project was spearheaded by the city of Ann Arbor, the police departments in Canton Township, Southfield, and Pittsfield Township, along with the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s office. Those five agencies put up the initial $140,000 for the project and conducted the pilot. But all CLEMIS member agencies are able to use the technology to analyze near real-time crime data. The consortium also hosts the technology platform for the region.

The CrimeView Dashboard went live in February after a six-month implementation. With the new technology, an officer can now quickly query how many robberies have been reported year to date, and, with a couple of clicks, a law enforcement official can learn on what days of the week and what times those robberies occurred.

According to Gregory Bazick, deputy chief of Administrative Services for the Ann Arbor PD, the initial idea behind the project was to find a way to automate the ability to generate a crime map for the local media. After discussing the idea with other members of CLEMIS, the group decided a more thorough program was a better value, leading them to the CrimeView Dashboard. The technology gives users a high-quality crime map, but also an analysis component that can be configured to support different organizational contexts.

Prior to the CrimeView Dashboard, the consortium was using a program called CrimeIMS that included some analytical and reporting capabilities, but was not a true dashboard.

“It was somewhat limited in the reporting,” McKinley said. “It was the best available in the early 2000s, but it was time to upgrade the solution. Today, we are able to overlay multiple data streams and look at them all at once. It’s all right there through dashboard-like style.”

The city of Ann Arbor earlier this year won a Public Technology Institute award in the category of Public Safety Technology and Emergency Management for its use of CrimeView Dashboard.

Future iterations of the technology could include officers using an optimized dashboard that works on tablets and smartphones. Officers in the field would know what is happening in the area as well as where, relative to current crimes.

“With all the technologies that are out there, there are other tools that could be deployed effectively if we know where to deploy them,” Bazick said. “We can’t always rely on calls for service. It’s going to lead to more effective deployment of police resources.”

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Jessica Renee Napier Contributing Writer

Jessica Renee Napier is a California-based writer who began her journalism career in public broadcasting. She teaches yoga, enjoys traveling and likes to stay up on all things tech.

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