Monday, November 1, 2010

I'm predicting this

In the past year, I have blogged a few times about the concept of predictive policing: using data and information to get out in front of crime and disorder--hopefully with a prevention or early intervention strategy.  It is a way of thinking that comes pretty naturally to Lincoln police employees, who have been immersed in information and involved in proactive policing for a good long while.

Early last week, I was representing the International Association of Crime Analysts (IACA) by helping to staff their exhibit at the huge annual police chiefs' chiefs conference.  Although I wasn't planning on making any presentations at the conference, I was pressed into service at the last minute by a colleague from Arlington, Texas: Jim Mallard.  Jim supervises the Crime Analysis Unit at the Arlington PD, and he was scheduled for one of the principal presentations at the conference, along with Chief T. Bowman.  Chief Bowman had been delayed in Arlington in the aftermath of the Texas Ranger's league championship.  How would you like to have the Super Bowl and the World Series in your City during the same year?

I was happy to fill in.  Fortunately I have been writing about predictive policing lately, so I had some thoughts in mind, and all went well.  You can read a little bit about the session Jim and I presented here. The session was interpreted live in several languages, and I'm hoping that some of the colloquialisms I used mad sense in Spanish, French, and Portuguese.  I got a good laugh recently when I used the phrase "madder than a wet hen", which I incorrectly thought was a pretty universal expression. 

Back to Chief Bowman:  I encountered him several weeks ago working email, reading documents, surfing the web, checking the news, and keeping in touch with the office via an Apple iPad tethered to a Sprint Overdrive.  He's the first chief I've seen managing his communications with an iPad, just like me. I'm predicting this in policing: the tablet computer is going to overtake current police mobile data computers rather quickly.  It is a natural for police officers, and makes more sense than the hardened docked laptops that presently rule the transmission hump.  Give me a vehicle docking solution for the iPad and a grab-and-go case with a hand strap, and the tablet makes perfect sense for police officers who are in and out of vehicles and buildings all day long.  It won't be too long before the vendors of police mobile data applications figure this out and design their products for this form factor.


Anonymous said...

Chief: You should design the products you're talking about today, start a company, and vend them yourself. Entrepreneurship should be rewarded. You could be the Ron Popeil of Cop Stuff.

Anonymous said...


Are you using a data plan? if you use wi-fi hhow are you securing it?

Car 54

Adam C said...

iPad is an amazing tool...and the new ones will have front and back cameras...
I imagine LPD could get an app developer to make a nice app that is linked to a database, or something, that LPD officers could have a password to log into. Think how useful that would be for officers on patrol.
ESRI even has an ArcGIS app, and it's free. It allows you to access your own GIS data, view attribute information, and other cool things.

Tom Casady said...

Car 54-

Sorry, but I'm not really discussing our data security methods on my blog! If you are LE and wish to contact me off-list, we can talk.

Sometimes police departments are so paranoid that they basically prevent their own employees from accessing the information they need to work effectively. There has to be an intelligent tradeoff between access and security. Keep in mind that the most sensitive information you own--your personal financial data--travels all over the place electronically every day.

A lot of what we do is public record in the first place, and although we need sound security measures to avoid intrusions, international spys are not coming to look for our burglary reports. If they were, the dumpster outside the substation would be the most vulnerable target in a lot of departments.

Anonymous said...

I suspect non-rugged, pretty iPads wouldn't hold up to the environment in your field.

Dell recently expanded its rugged line to include a tablet, Dell Latitude XT2 over 5 lbs, it is a hog. Trimble also has a nice rugged tablet in the Yuma, smaller form factor lacking a physical keyboard.

Dave said...

I think technology has changed policing, and I see it only getting better for law enforcement.

Smartphones and the things that can be done with them just amaze me. Makes me wish I was still in the tech field and working for LPD, I bet you got some cool tech toys to play with.

ARRRRG!!!! said...

The future of pirating?

badfed said...

Chief, interesting you should talk about this this week. My force ( a large UK constabulary) is pushing hard on the blackberry / handheld fingerprint reader front

Rory Dunne said...


Interesting you should talk about this this week. My force (a large UK constabulary) is pushing hard on the portable technology agenda also.

We are also rolling out portable fingerprint scanners, and can verify/challenge offenders identities through our intelligence and custody records system by viewing pictures of them taken on previous arrests. All the systems t do this are handheld. As an analyst, I would love to see our geocoding of crime records improved by utilising GPS technology when attending the officer is filling in an electronic crime record at the scene!

Anonymous said...

What really needs to be developed for policing is a wearable computer with data screen eye piece. One step closer to combining humans and machines, the day will come.

Tom Casady said...


Very interesting. Do this, though: make sure in training that everyone gets some good instruction on using mobile devices safely. Smartphones, iPads, and mobile computers have a way of drawing your attention in very intensely. Do not get sucker-punched by some bloke while pecking on your Blackberry. Follow these rules:

Keep your eyes moving, and be prepared to drop that device immediately. Look up and around often.

Avoid all unnecessary use: no goofy text messages about football, no stream-of-consciousness conversations with your mates.

Find a safe place to use your device where you can control who is around you, and notice anyone approaching with your peripheral vision.

Don't illuminate yourself with your device in a darkened background. Make sure there is enough ambient light that your face is not a beacon.

Do not use your device in the presence of a criminal suspect until you have a backup there with you to keep a close eye on the suspect and his companions.

When practical, wait to use your device until you are in a controlled environment--the police station, substation, back room, etc.

Don't let your device overwhelm your night vision. Use it only with plenty of ambient light, or find an app that allows you to dramatically reduce the brightness (such as Night Browser), as the device's minimum brightness setting is almost always too bright for night operation.

Anonymous said...


Have you ever tried to use Crime View Community site via the Safari browser? If not, give it a try when you have a minute.