Pennsylvania, USA: The Southwest Regional Police Department, Pennsylvania, USA, incorporated a crime mapping system, RAIDS, that details the location, time and nature of crimes committed in the nine communities patrolled by its officers. The department is the first in Pennsylvania to use the system to allow residents to research crime in their neighbourhoods using their computers or smart phones.
The free, online service allows citizens to map types of criminal offenses by: date, location and time span. The easy to understand Google-Earth map format not only allows citizens to see where reported crimes have occurred. It also allows them to click on the map plots to read more about the specific offense.
“We live in a time when people have a right to know, a need to know and want to know, so we’ve tried to be as transparent as we possibly can be with the public and what’s going on in their area,” said John Dale Hartman, Chief of the Regional Department. “You can better prepare yourself and protect yourself if you know what’s going on in your communities.”
When information is filed in the department’s existing records management system, the department’s information technology company also uploads it into the RAIDS system, which then pinpoints the crime — no matter what kind — on a Google Earth map.
Residents can isolate their search terms, looking at all the crimes on a given street or community, or looking at all incidents of a particular crime in an area during a particular period. They also can sign up for a customised report about crimes committed in their community, emailed daily, weekly or monthly. The system also allows users to send anonymous tips to the police.
The RAIDS system also allows residents to analyse the information through a searchable, interactive “dashboard.” By changing their requests, users can see data presented in different ways: a pie chart, for example, can show what percentages of the overall crime rate are homicides, burglaries and assaults or what days of the week show the most incidences of various crimes.