Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Proactive Police Patrol information

Proactive Police Patrol information (P3i) is a location-based services application that we have developed and deployed at the Lincoln Police Department  in collaboration with the University of Nebraska and with funding from the National Institute of Justice (the research arm of the Department of Justice.)

Last fall, the University was awarded a grant to develop and study this technology.  I am the co-principal investigator on this project, and I posted a teaser about it last September.  Within two weeks, there was actually a functioning version of the application. In the ensuing months, it has been through many more iterations, as our collaborators at the Department of Computer Science and Engineering have continued to enhance and improve P3i. Deployment began on May 4, and P3i is now in the hands of 60 Lincoln Police officers, who are using the application on four different devices: iPhones, iPads, Motorola Xoom tablets, and Droid2 smart phones. There will 15 more around the end of the month, when a version of the application that can be used on our regular mobile data computers (Panasonic Toughbooks) should be ready.

P3i works the same way many other location-based services apps.  It's a map-based application that displays the "police points of interest" around you, based on your current coordinates. The map moves with you as you walk or drive, and the points simply stream towards you as the map scrolls. If you are using it on a smartphone, when you pull it out of your pocket, its already centered on your location.  The points of interest represent the locations of recent crimes, the addresses of parolees, registered sex offenders, people with arrest warrants and so forth.  These data are updated daily. We use very similar data in our internal mapping applications, so the process was already in place to automatically gather and geocode these data from our reporting systems for display in a geographic framework.  With P3i, we have moved these data to the street as a location-based service. Just as you might use Google Maps or Bing on a smartphone to search for a restaurant, then click the icon to bring up a photo, a link to its website, and a button to launch Streetview, you can do all the same things in P3i.  Rather than the restaurant, though, it's the sex offender who lives in the corner house, or the guy in apartment 201 with an arrest warrant that you might not have known about without this technology.

The early word on P3i is encouraging.   I've been in this business long enough that I think I am familiar with  sound of sucking-up-to-the-chief.  The reaction I've been hearing from officers is something quite different.  UNL's Public Policy Center is in the process of conducting research, though, to shed some light on how this technology impacts policing and police officers.  At the end of the day, I am pretty confident we will have data that reflects on efficiency and effectiveness, not just anecdotes (although we've already got a bag-full of those, too).


Anonymous said...

Great video, very interesting. You go the extra mile to keep people informed. This blog is a great addition to any day.

Anonymous said...

Does the software make you aware of all criminals and their location or simply only sex offenders?

Anonymous said...

Director-Can an Officer in the field edit data in the system? As an example, if you have an icon that indicates the guy in Apt. 201 has a warrant and he has moved, can the officer in the field input info that will remove the icon so the people in 201 aren't contacted again? I assume there is a way to do it. Just wondering if it's interactive and easy. How many active warrants are in the system?

Thanks, 256

Tom Casady said...


It is the addresses of registered sex offenders, parolees, gang members, people with arrest warrants, other wanted persons, and the location of occurrence for recent crimes and incidents.


Yes, in-app reporting of verified invalid address.

Anonymous said...

Thanks. The technology just keeps getting better. Nice job getting this up and running. Stuff like this can really change the way you do business. It will be interesting to see the graphs when the research is finished.


Michelle said...

Way cool. Will be forwarding the video to our tech section.

Steve said...

Excellent video, Tom. Much more interesting and informative than simply reading about all that technology stuff. Also, it would appear that it is more than just bells and whistles, but something that might actually provide a significant benefit to the officers and, in the end, the citizenry of Lincoln. I'm sure there are many more yet to be dreamed up applications that will further improve the ability of LPD to keep Lincoln safe, and I'm sure you are the right man to be at the helm and take advantage of them.

Anonymous said...

DNA evidence has been used to convict guilty parties but on the FLIP side DNA has also been used to exonerate innocents. With the recent dust up over the APPLE news that their devices allowed them to track the users of their products my question is: Could the information collected from these devices be used to prosecute a citizen? This is going to be a huge legal problem in the future IMHO. What is your take on the direction we are heading in that regard?

Gun Nut

Anonymous said...

This is a great tool but there is nothing that will ever replace good old fashioned police work. Informants, surveillance, cops who know people and can remember names and faces will never be replaced by computers and software. I think sometimes this is forgotten.

Tom Casady said...



Anonymous said...

g'day Tom,

Thank you for sharing this concept with us, paticularly the highly informative video.

I'll email you to learn more and share some ideas.