Monday, March 12, 2012

Location-aware bulletins

Lincoln’s ground-breaking LBS application for police, P3i, has gone commercial.  The University of Nebraska’s research commercialization program, NUtech Venutures, has helped the UNL developers form a marketing arrangement with the Omega Group, makers of CrimeView, a popular suite of GIS and crime analysis software products for law enforcement.  The Omega Group has rebranded P3i as CrimeView NEARme.

Prior to this roll out, developers Ian Cottingham and Kevin Farrell added a few new features, one of which I am particularly intrigued with: location-aware crime bulletins.  Among the products the Lincoln Police Department’s Crime Analysis Unit produces are printed crime bulletins. These are usually one or two page documents meant to inform officers of an emerging crime trend, a series of related cases, a new criminal enterprise, a specific suspect, and so forth.

Lincoln is not unique in this regard.  This is a bread-and-butter product of crime analysts all around the country, and documents of this type are thumb-tacked on police bulletin boards world wide. More recently, many departments have begun distributing such bulletins as .pdfs on their Intranet.

While crime bulletins come in a variety of flavors, many relate to a specific geographic area.  Our Crime Analysis Unit Manager, Andrew Dasher, observed one day that a location-based services app like P3i would be a great way to deliver such content to officers in the field: as you entered the area where the bulletin information was relevant, a link would appear on the map, and a click would open the bulletin alongside the map. The developers ran with that idea, and here’s what the result looks like, on the Windows version of CrimeView NEARme:



Steve said...

I sure wish I could get one of those bulletins printed up to show the area around my mom's house with icons representing dog feces scattered over her front yard and a nice description of the MO used by the dog's owner: Dog walker usually operates during hours of darkness with dog on leash at least 25 feet long, stays no more than 30-45 seconds at any one time.

She would love to think the police are on the lookout for this nefarious criminal.

Anonymous said...

I guess this would be somewhat related: James Quinn Wilson, author of the Atlantic Monthly's 1982 "Broken Windows" article, died on March 2.

Anonymous said...

Do you have stats on how far from home a perpetrator will travel before he commits a crime? Does it vary in the different types of crimes? I would think a mugger would want to do his crime far enough from where he lived to keep from being identified by a local. Conversely a drug pusher might know his clients because they live nearby. IOW what patterns does a good officer look for?
Gun NUt

Tom Casady said...


J. Q. Wilson was one of the most influential minds in policing in the 20th century. His articles and books had a profound influence on criminal justice students and emerging police managers of my generation during the 1970s and 80s. My favorite: "Varieties of Police Behavior," a few years befor he and George Kelling Published their famous "Broken Windows" article.

Gun Nut,

Google the phrase "journey to crime," and you will find tons of research on this very issue by a bunch of erudite academicians.

In essence, you have just summed up the research literature, saving other readers from the need to read themselves to sleep after being anesthesized by terms like bayseian statistics, Getis Ord-G, polish kriging, kernel density, and spatial auto-correlation. Nice work!

Steve said...

Still, it seems I read a lot about people stupidly committing crimes in their own neighborhood. How about the woman who stole Christmas decorations from someone's front lawn and put them up in her own yard just down the street? I suppose there is such a thing as a smart criminal, but you don't hear much about them because they get away with a lot. It's the dumb ones that get the publicity.