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Friday, September 05, 2008

A word about the SpatialKey Heatmap

By Jon Greiner
Utah State Senator and Ogden City Police Chief

Business Intelligence (BI) Mashups, or the idea of bringing together relevant data sets from a host of places, has been a pet project/dream of mine for 10 years. The Ogden City IT department even wrote such a program for me several years ago but it just wasn't user friendly or robust as I wanted.

What a small company of gamers called Universal Mind has done for me is take the most important crime analysis pieces of my Records Management System (RMS) and put it on a map.

Not just any map - it's a combination map of satellite images, street map, and my geographically assigned patrol beat map in layers. The company has made it so user friendly that I can literally research and plot over 400,000 calls for service in the last 5 years in about 30 seconds. The system is web based so quickly analyzing What-Ifs can be accomplished anytime, anywhere, on any computer with an air card. You can begin to see how this would be valuable to me and my law enforcement team.

Universal Mind has incorporated things like CompStat research by Uniform Crime Rate (UCR) code so that any police agency in the nation can start with the same base line. They have incorporated heat maps for crime like those you see on TV for the weather.

They created this program so I can simply choose a crime (for example, vehicle burglaries), use a drop down menu to define time lines wanted (example: in the last 7 days) and it will give a breakdown of that crime in a specified area on the map. As mentioned before, the heat map shows where those crimes are most saturated (red being the most occurrences). I even have an AVL component where I can go back and see where a patrol car was at the time of the crime, for the purpose of training (by pointing out how they might better use their patrol time and save the city some gas expense).

A huge plus in this equation is that I can also add the name, address and other information of current Parolees/Probationers/Sex-offenders to the maps.

At the end of the day I want to give each of my officers the ability to do What-Ifs from home. My newest officers are gamers raised in a world of video games. I want this to become their new game of choice in helping solve crimes and arrest suspects more quickly. OPD officers work the same area for a year and this gives them a tool for their area to use during their un-committed time.

Chief Burbank of Salt Lake City and Sheriff Winder of Salt Lake County are on the same RMS system as I am. They have looked at this product and are now negotiating for the same service. It literally is the first of it's kind in the nation. It has so much potential that we have barely scratched the surface in our abilities to serve our customers, our citizens, in the future.

If you are interested, here's a PDF of the full ComputerWorld article.

[Update:] Ben Stucki provides a coder's look at SpatialKey.

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