San Francisco's BART Police Department Mapping Software

Mapping technology homeland security and public safety initiatives.

SAN FRANCISCO -- The San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) is utilizing MapInfo's location-based software for homeland security, e-government and public safety initiatives within its police department.

BART is a combination aerial/subway transit system that spans four counties and 26 cities in California. It connects over 310,000 riders to their destinations daily, transporting more than 50 percent of Bay Area commuters across the San Francisco Bay and carrying one-third of commuters into Oakland. BART Police Department has approximately 280 employees spanning 28 jurisdictions and receives more than 50,000 calls for service annually.

The BART Police Department is using several technologies from the company, primarily through the company's e-Government Grant Program, which is designed to help municipalities that could not have otherwise afforded such technology. Since deploying the technology in November 2003, BART has used MapInfo software to consolidate and electronically manage 40-year-old documentation, such as engineering schematics, and perform crime analysis functions. Additionally BART is using location-based technology to address several critical areas, including:

-- Homeland security analysis -- BART is using the software to identify geographical liabilities such as tunnels and subways, and assets including hospitals and schools, and analyze how the location of those facilities will impact the transit system during an emergency. These liabilities include the Transbay Tube, a section of the system that crosses underneath the San Francisco Bay, which is among California's top critical assets.

-- Improved government efficiency -- The issue of managing shrinking resources without compromising performance or service is being addressed at BART by using the software to analyze annual calls for service, staffing and technology resources. For instance, the company can help BART ensure that personnel or IT resources are properly allocated at a given location and then make adjustments when needed.

-- Quicker response time -- Routing is used to dispatch officers to and from calls for service locations. Since BART officers frequently travel by freeway to get to service locations, BART Police uses the company's routing software in combination with real-time traffic updates from the California Highway Patrol to advise officers of the quickest route to their call location and avoid accidents and other traffic delays.

-- Enhanced information sharing -- BART created Web-enabled maps for the Police Department's intranet, enabling its officers to access and visually analyze key information. Additionally BART is considering posting password-controlled maps to its public Web site for access by other law enforcement agencies, and non-password-protected maps for public viewing.

"After only a few months, BART officials can already see how valuable the technology is for improving public safety," said Carissa Goldner, CAD/RMS administrator for the BART Police Department. "In the near-future, we hope to integrate the software with wireless and GPS technologies so that BART police will have mobile access to critical information."
Miriam Jones is chief copy editor of Government Technology, Governing, Public CIO and Emergency Management magazines. She joined e.Republic in 2000 as an editor of Converge magazine.