Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Sharing an idea

This post is for those interested in crime analysis, GIS, and Internet technology.

I participate in one and only one listserv, the CRIMEMAP group, at the Department of Justice, Mapping and Analysis for Public Safety program. I don't have much time to read lists, but I continue to subscribe to this one because the traffic is fairly light and I can occasionally contribute something worthwhile.

A total stranger posted this question to the list last week:

> I have a hyper linking question...
> I have a theme of Department of Corrections releases that I have
> hyperlinked their subject lookups from the DOC website into the URL.
> It works on my map, but when I export the data out to share w/ the
> others in my agency the hyperlinks are no longer there. Does anyone
> know how they can be saved in a theme that can be shared w/ others?
> Certified Law Enforcement Analyst
> Hernando County Sheriff's Office

The analyst who posted this question was trying to build web links to the public site of the Florida Department of Corrections (DOC) into her mapping application. She wanted to distribute this to others with links in this electronic map, so her colleagues could click and get more detailed information about recently-released inmates. We've been building links like these into our map applications for years, and I recognized her problem as a field length issue. I gave her some ideas for troubleshooting and asked her to send me the geographic layer itself. After I received it, I emailed something back to her in about 10 minutes that I thought might be even easier than her approach. Her response:

>OH WOW - That is AWESOME.....!!!

Here is the file that caused her to type in caps. It's a .kml file--keyhole markup language--the format Google Earth uses. If you have Google Earth installed, it will launch when you click this link. If you don't have Google Earth installed, you can click here to open it in Google Maps, instead. This is all public record information from the Florida Department of Corrections public web site.

Her next email jokingly (I think) offered me a trip to Florida. It was just what she wanted--the ability to easily distribute these data to colleagues without any GIS background, and I could quickly explain the process to her. It's phenomenal what can be easily accomplished with free applications and tools today, compared to just two or three years ago.


Anonymous said...

Chief, you love technology and the free flow of information which is great. You also take great pride in the systems in place to ensure quality within your department. With your topic for today I thought you'd get a kick out of this and maybe write about how your department handles commendations and complaints.

There is a website that was reported on CNN a few weeks ago called ratemycop.com. The entire Lincoln Police Department (officers and civilians) are listed on the website for review. If you look at the list, there is no doubt this is our employee list. One mistake though; they are listed under the Massachusetts State Police. OFC Anthony Ortiz has a poor rating while some other officers have good ones. Here's the kicker. If you read the actual comment regarding OFC Ortiz, it becomes very clear that this is not OUR Ofc Ortiz. Unfortunately, due to the way this website is managed and the lack of review any negative comment true or false is then listed for the Internet community to see. A defense attorney could research an officer and gather erroneous information that could be damaging on the stand. Just wanted to know what you think about the website and the fact that all your employee's names commissioned and non commissioned are posted.

Tom Casady said...

I saw ratemycop.com a few weeks ago, too. The site obviously mines online directories, which are common. There is also a ratemyteachers.com, and a ratemyprofessors.com that use the same shtik. I wonder if they are all from the same source.

All City of Lincoln employees are listed by name on line. They are also listed in many other public documents. This is also true of all Lancaster County and State of Nebraska employees. This is just one of the things that comes with being a public employee: our names and salaries are public record.

As far as these websites, I don't think much of them. On the other hand, I am not particularly worried about someone using this site to post incorrect, or defamatory comments, because I think it has no credibility, and no evidentiary value.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to do something like this with the last known addresses of those that had been previously convicted of burglary, robbery, murder, felony assault/battery, auto theft, and other such major violent and property crimes. Kind of a "people you might want to keep an eye on in your neighborhood" map project, similar to a RSO registry thing.

Maybe getting those addresses in a usable format (and keeping them updated) might amount to a full-time job. I'm not sure that info (addresses) is even public record, nor if the felon is required to inform any authority when they move, if they aren't still on parole.

Anonymous said...