The world is progressing at a high pace. The population is rising, technological innovations are gaining momentum and so are incidents of crime. With more and more people fighting for lesser and lesser resources available, the hate crimes are on the rise. In an era where technology is driving almost every realm of our lives, should we not profusely use it to ensure we have safer days and nights with lesser incidents of crimes? With GIS making us plan better, produce better, travel better, heal better; it is time we stretch its benefits to ensuring higher public safety as well. Let’s understand how GIS ensures public safety.
The current scenario is encouraging with policing agencies worldwide actively imbibing GIS in their functioning with the intent of achieving higher public safety and quicker response. GIS is enabling the police to achieve ‘Smart Policing.’
What is Smart Policing?
Police agencies worldwide are using geospatial technologies for mapping crime, identifying crime hot spots, assigning officers, and profiling offenders. Spatial analysis is giving geographical context to real world incidents and helping police officials to create geographical profiling of offenders. GIS tools by providing hot spot generation, zonation, navigation and mobile location identification are enabling the Intelligence community to be smarter, faster and hit right at the spot at the right time.
Mapping solutions are allowing law enforcement authorities to add context, timing and location data to raw data. This is leading to the creation of rich, interactive maps that is helping officials gain actionable insights. They are getting higher clarity in ‘what to do, when and where.’
GIS has immense potential to help the police in crime analysis, workforce management, prison and parole management and providing quicker response where it is most needed.
How is it done
Crime of any sort incurs huge costs for the society at national, community and individual levels. These costs can be significantly reduced through effective usage of GIS solutions, for example, predicting the crime hot-spots and increasing police patrols in those areas, quick response to crime.
Crime can be predicted through story mapping and trail identification, incident maps and heat maps can help in reducing the possibilities of incident recurrence. By analyzing cell phone data patterns and linking with geo-locations, locations that draw crime can be identified and resource deployment can be done accordingly. This invariably leads to prevention of crime.
Predictive policing is achieved through using geospatial technologies and analytical techniques to identify the most probable areas for urgent police intervention. This helps in preventing the occurrence of crimes at the very outset. Location intelligence can help law enforcement detect patterns of crime and take actions to prevent them from occurring.
GIS aids the law enforcement authorities manage their workforce better. GIS helps them in planning field visits for general supervision, crime investigation visits, route optimization, route tracking of the concerned officers, work scheduling, police vehicle tracking, real-time tracking of the location of the force, attendance management, Human Resource Management, asset management, reporting etc.
Prison and parole management
GIS helps in prison and parole management by helping in identifying areas prone to inmate violence in institutional settings, assigning probation and parole officers by geographic location, directing probationers and parolees to services and treatment centers, making site selection decisions for the placement of new facilities within a community etc. Prison authorities can effectively use a map of the prison complex as the base map that can have address locations pin-pointed as housing units, individual cells and other discrete locations in the complex.
GIS also makes inmate information such as booking photos, current charges, demographic data, gang affiliation, and corrections history just a click away. It serves as a valuable tool for analysis and investigation for prison authorities. Using visualization prison officers can gain an understanding of the dynamics of the prisoner population and ascertain security threats even before they actually even occur. For example, if two gangs are reported to have an issue outside a prison, staff may want to quickly identify the locations of members of those gangs in the prison to intervene before there is any further escalation of the conflict.
In the event of a facility lockdown or emergency, GIS facilitates quick and efficient headcounts by showing exactly where each inmate and staff member should be located. Spatial and temporal analysis can also highlight recurring trouble spots that may require changes in policy or additional security measures. Inmate interactions, including visitors, phone calls, and mail, can be monitored with the help of GIS. Visitors or the origin of incoming phone calls to inmates can be mapped and visualized to create an analysis of all contacts and connections both inside and outside the prison.
GIS aids in monitoring offenders outside prison as well. The geographic information collected and analyzed by probation and parole personnel can become a valuable investigative tool to police, who might want to know, for example, the locations of people recently released from prison who have previously been convicted of a certain type of crime.
Thus we see, overall, GIS has huge potential when it comes to ensuring higher public safety through smart policing. Law enforcement authorities worldwide are recognizing benefits of its application in their day to day functioning and accordingly imbibing it. India is at a nascent stage in this domain but is making progress. In times to come, as more and more countries adopt GIS in police functioning, we are bound to see a more effective deployment of police personnel, occurrence of lesser crimes and quicker response to adverse situations.