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Camden, N.J., Police to Share Data with Hospitals for Insight into Better Health, Public Safety

Data can provide a look into where health care, public safety and other sectors overlap.

The Camden, N.J., Police Department will share its data with three local health-care providers in an attempt to get to the root of some of the city’s public safety and health problems.

The city’s three hospitals, which make up the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers, have shared information among themselves for nearly a decade. Now the coalition will have at its fingertips data from the criminal justice system, as well as housing and other networks.

The idea is to find commonalities, such as someone calling an ambulance numerous times and also having numerous contacts with police or other agencies. The person or persons who “touch all systems” can be evaluated to find solutions. Coalition members plan to develop a report at the end of the year to identify solutions for addressing the health and safety needs and where resources can be used wisely.

The initiative is funded by the Texas-based Laura and John Arnold Foundation and by a local nonprofit called CamConnect. The initiative is similar to data-sharing programs in Philadelphia and New York. The aim is to make the city safer and healthier though shared data. City leaders are serious about analyzing data to solve some of the Camden’s problems. Last year analysis of abandoned buildings and crime patterns was one of the data-driven projects.

The city has already gotten safer since spring 2013 when its police force was handed to the county. Since then shootings have dropped by 43 percent and violent crime is down 22 percent, according to a New York Times report. And parents from Philadelphia’s Center City feel safe enough to bring their kids to Camden to play Little League — which has grown to 500 players from 150.

Police officers now, instead of sitting at a desk, are out among the citizens and the response time has been cut from about 60 minutes to a little more than four.

This staff report was originally published by Emergency Managment.