At a Glance

What they wanted to do:

  • Help reduce, prevent and solve crime
  • Increase dialog with citizens regarding crime locations to help citizen become more vigilant regarding unsafe areas

What they did:

  • Built a set of online crime-fighting tools, including a public crime map provided by Google Maps, alert messaging, anonymous tipping and data analytics

What they accomplished:

  • Crime data from participating local law enforcement agencies is fed into the Google Maps API in near real-time, giving members of the public instant insight into theft, burglary,auto theft, assault and other crime incident locations.

"Google Maps has changed the way public agencies can do business helping provide better citizen services in cost-effective ways."

—Christian Faulconer, Public Engines COO

About Google Maps API for Business

Google Maps API for Business makes it easy for companies to include fully interactive Google Maps on their public and internal websites. The Maps API helps your customers and employees make the right business and purchasing decisions by visualizing important information on a familiar map.

For more information, visit enterprise.google.com/maps

"The Google Maps API for Business has enabled us to cut out the middle man and save years of development time"

—Greg Whisenant, Public Engines CEO

CrimeReports.com encourages broad citizen participation in neighborhood crime prevention using Google Maps

Business

Simply by clicking on CrimeReports.com and typing in a location, citizens can look at a Google Map that pinpoints exactly where police have responded to crimes within their neighborhoods. CrimeReports works with thousands of law-enforcement agencies to help reduce, prevent and solve crime by enabling officials to easily open and manage a controlled dialog with citizens. Offering an online family of crime-fighting tools including a public crime map provided by Google Maps, alert messaging, anonymous tipping and data analytics. CrimeReports.com is a website that provides tools to help law enforcement agencies communicate directly with members of the communities they serve.

Challenge

Previously, law enforcement agencies had to rely heavily on the media to disseminate information about public safety in their communities – trusting that journalists and editors conveyed the facts accurately and provided helpful, timely information to keep citizens apprised of neighborhood crime activity. Police departments had no timely and cost-efficient way to communicate crime details directly to the public, nor did the public have ready access to first-hand information.

Enter an innovative group of developers called Public Engines, whose name is inspired by their core mission to give public officials control of communications directly with citizens in order to provide citizens more visibility into the inner workings of law enforcement and government. "We develop simple, powerful, easy-to-use tools that optimize communication between public officials and the citizens they serve," says CEO Greg Whisenant. "We see Google Maps API as a great way to provide a type of software as a service free to the public and at very low cost to budget-conscious public agencies." According to Whisenant, until CrimeReports.com, the only way law enforcement agencies could provide web-based public information was to build the service themselves or outsource to expensive service providers, both of which are too costly or time-consuming for most U.S. law enforcement agencies. "The Google Maps API has enabled us to cut out the middle man and save years of development time," he says.

Solution

Crime data from participating local law enforcement agencies is fed into the Google Maps API in near real-time, giving members of the public instant insight into theft, burglary, auto theft, assault and other crime incident locations – viewable by street, satellite, or hybrid view. The CrimeReports.com service can be integrated with any law enforcement records management or computer aided dispatch system, and invokes multiple technologies to deliver its service, including Google Maps API and the Global Justice XML Data Model (GJXDM).

"We’re giving citizens information in ways that are relevant to enhancing public safety,” says Public Engines COO Christian Faulconer. “For example, if there is a pattern of thefts in a neighborhood skewed toward a senior population, citizens can be alerted to take extra precaution and police can bolster patrols in that area."

Results

The San Jose Police Department (SJPD) in northern California was one of the first local law enforcement agencies to integrate CrimeReports.com into its website ( www.sjpd.org). In addition to the community having direct access to crime data, the police force is putting the tool to good use internally.

SJPD Chief Administrative Officer Steven DiNoto reports that the force uses the tool to keep a pulse on crime and disorder activity in its jurisdiction and to deploy officers where they are most needed. “In a single glance, officers know exactly what has happened during previous shifts, both citywide and in smaller patrol service areas,” says DiNoto. “Also, it’s been really rewarding to get so much positive feedback from the community in terms of members of the public and law officers working from the same page.” He adds that the tool provides a worthwhile service that is being continually improved upon.

Visualizing crime data in near real-time in the familiar Google Maps interface enables law enforcement agencies to analyze incident patterns to plan resource deployment more effectively. In addition, detailed, comprehensive crime and disorder information is accurately relayed from public agencies to members of the public in near real-time without waiting for the eleven o’clock news. "Google Maps has changed the way public agencies can do business —helping provide better citizen services in cost effective ways," says Faulconer.