The CrimeView Dashboard
FEATURED IN TACTICS AND WEAPONS
In recent years, it’s become routine for law enforcement to use software applications that link crime incidents to location or place to obtain highly accurate visualizations of crime activity. LEOs have long known that “where” crime is occurring is as important as “when” and to “whom,” and timely and insightful geospatial intelligence allows law enforcement to effectively and smartly allocate scarce resources. This linkage of temporal and spatial crime incident data is often referred to as geospatial-intelligence-led policing.
Although these geospatial crime incident applications have been instrumental to modern policing, the creation of geospatial intelligence reports has traditionally required a certain level of technical expertise. Furthermore, preparing the reports for use by command staff, patrol officers and specialty units involves considerable time and effort. Consequently, there’s traditionally been a time-lag as data is prepared for use.
This data delivery time-lag has hampered the ability of patrol officers, supervisors and command staff to make immediate adjustments based on recent crime activity. Furthermore, for both small and large agencies, the cost of acquiring elaborate database-warehousing information systems is simply not feasible.
But there’s good news. Agencies no longer need huge database facilities to house geospatial information. Web-browser-based geospatial dashboard technology is now available that eliminates obstacles and allows officer access to virtually real-time automated geospatial intelligence. Even better, this technology is easy to understand and doesn’t require any special technical assistance from internal or external sources. It’s based instead on a technology platform called a Web dashboard.
So, what’s a Web dashboard? It gets its name because it resembles the dashboard you rely on to know how your vehicle is functioning at a glance. Simply put, it provides the important information in an intuitive display—over the Web.
The Web dashboard isn’t a new phenomenon. Dashboards have been available in the form of business intelligence solutions for corporations for many years. Typically, these have served as financial reporting tools that alert corporate managers to changes in key operational performance measures, such as sales, revenues and expenses.
But the needs of cops are different. You need to know what’s happening and where it’s happening. Therefore, Web dashboards for police must be built upon a powerful mapping engine or platform.
The CrimeView Dashboard
CrimeView Dashboard represents the next generation of resource allocation and management tools for the law enforcement sector. Developed by the Omega Group and built upon ESRI’s ArcGIS Server technology, the entire application is accessed directly through a Web browser. Agencies don’t need to buy any software.
This technology provides inexpensive, universal access to critical information for officers throughout the department. It provides a consolidated visual display on a single screen of the most important information needed by the user to achieve key objectives. All of this can be monitored at a glance and without user input. Continuous reporting feeds (known as widgets) work with any department computer records or dispatch systems to update records daily.
CrimeView Dashboard displays are configured into “Briefing Books.” These configurations address specific areas of responsibility for patrol officers, supervisors, command staff and special task forces. The Briefing Books provide each group of users with an overview of recent crime activity via reports, charts, maps and graphs. Examples of Briefing Books organized within the CrimeView Dashboard environment include Patrol Officer Briefing Book (by beat, neighborhood or service area), Roll Call Briefing Book (supervisory/command staff) and Executive Briefing Book (chief/assistant chief). Because the dashboard technology can be scaled to any size, these digital Briefing Books will meet the demands of any organization.
One of the first adopters of the Crime-View Dashboard was the Lincoln (Neb.) Police Department. A longtime leader in geospatial-intelligence-led policing, the LPD has found the system a boon to situational awareness for the department.
“With over 350 dispatch events daily, there is simply no way to maintain situational awareness within our department via the traditional roll call and stack of police reports,” Public Safety Director Tom Casady says. “CrimeView Dashboard is going to allow everyone from commanders to patrol officers to be more informed about emerging issues than ever before.”
The ability to spot emerging crime series or trends is among the most powerful capabilities of CrimeView Dashboard. The visual displays contain the digital equivalent of “Hot Sheets” comprising specific “Alerts” that draw attention to unusual spikes or outlier activity in a particular crime category.
“It is entirely possible, for example, that a series of car prowls at automotive shops and used car dealerships is underway, but that no one has yet made the connection between these cases, simply due to the fact that officers are spread across the city, the clock and the calendar,” Casady says. “The CrimeView Dashboard is a great tool for helping to make these connections, and enables informed officers and commanders to formulate better strategies.”
In this era of restricted budgets, progressive agencies are leveraging technology to get the most out of their resources. CrimeView Dashboard is a case in point. Not only will it remind you of what you want to accomplish in your community, but it will help you to get there in an intuitive and no-fuss way.
Dollars & Sense
Law enforcement budgets have been scaled back everywhere and it might seem that acquiring new technology would be near the bottom of the priority list. If you’re thinking that way, you’re mistaken. The reality is that if you embrace tech strategically, you can help your officers work smarter and be much more productive. In many cases, you’ll make their job safer because they have near-real time information on which to base their decisions.
At the Lincoln (Neb.) PD, Public Safety Director Tom Casady used funds out of his general operating budget to acquire, license and maintain the Omega technology. “No grant funds were involved,” said Casady. “I recognized that this would return more in efficiency than the cost of the products and services. Essentially, the value of what we buy from the Omega Group is automated geocoding of our data, public crime mapping services and mapping products for our internal crime analysis work—and it’s worth the cost of a patrol car to me.”
Eugene Mueller is a writer who has written extensively on the implementation of information technology in the field of public safety and education. He completed his MPA with Honors in 1990 from USC and has focused his professional interests in the field of administration of justice at the local, state and federal levels.