GIS helps government chart a forward course

SPSS Predictive Analytics technology helps the department get officers to the right place at the right time. Vaden credits Blue CRUSH with the city’s reduction in crime, which averaged 10 percent this year, but the reduction was much greater for some crime categories and geographical areas.

In addition, data is also provided directly to the public through the MPD’s Real Time Crime Center Web site. From there, users can access the Real Time Crime Ticker and see the 50 most recent incidents or crimes by category such as auto theft, residential burglaries, etc. The site provides a ticker with the 50 most recent incidents in the city, and also displays incidents by category on a Google map. The site is updated every 10 minutes, 24 hours a day. "Be on the lookout for" (BOLO) notices are also posted. Residents may report suspicious activity through the Web site and upload photos, as well as participate in the Blue CRUSH CyberWatch program, which issues crime reports through daily e-mail notices.

New layers of data are being developed from community survey data collected by the university’s Center for Community Building and Neighborhood Action. That information will be analyzed using SPSS Predictive Analytics software and correlated with crime data. In addition, the MPD is working with the university to develop a comprehensive Community Indicators System to support community policing efforts and groups that are implementing problem-solving initiatives.

The Community Indicators System draws upon multiple databases and data sources, providing a rich source for additional analytical variables, Vaden notes, such as foreclosure and problem properties data layers, socio-demographics, and school and community risk factors. Those will be shown on maps to provide a visual representation of potential trouble areas.

Predictive analytics and geospatial patterns are a strong combination, according to Bill Haffey, director of systems engineers at SPSS. "Law enforcement organizations do not want to look backward at pins in a map indicating past crimes, but rather to be able to anticipate incident locations proactively. Details such as the location of an ATM machine or the type of buildings in an area provide more information for analysts to consider, increasing the level of confidence in the predictions," Haffey says.

GIS market size and growth

Daratech, a market research firm specializing in geographic information system (GIS) technology and product life cycle management (PLM), estimates the worldwide market for GIS hardware, software, data and services at slightly more than $5 billion for 2008. The public sector accounted for about 40 percent of that revenue. Leading worldwide suppliers for the public sector include ESRI with $500 million in sales in 2008, Bentley, U.K. Ordnance Survey and Autodesk.

All levels of government (federal, state and local) have shown robust growth over the past six years, averaging 8 percent per year for that time period. Because of declining tax revenues, Daratech expects the growth rate to drop off, but spending on infrastructure is likely to support the market.

"Building infrastructure requires planning and designing," says Charles Foundyller, president of Daratech, "and in order to plan and design, you need GIS."

Worldwide sales of GIS for software in the public sector grew from $577 million in 2004 to $923 million in 2009, with estimated sales of $962 million predicted for 2009.

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