This replaces tried-and-true queries that the cops had set up in their archaic 1997 computers that were often wrong, and their crime-mapping system consisted of a map on the wall with pins in it. Now, search terms as varied as "boats" and "pawn tickets" can be looked up and cross-referenced, and Eisenman said that the learning-curve was "zero" for his officers. "We had to make it cop-proof," said Eisenman. "They can't hurt this, which is good, as they had messed up Excel spreadsheets before and gotten in trouble."
The system has only been running for a few months, but there have already been results. Someone reported a partial plate for a road rager who was running people off the road. By running it on their mobile unit, they were able to get his address and see his prior road incidents, and meet him at the perp's house, where the man said, astonished, "How in the world did you find that out?" Another partial plate yielded a burglar with 250 burglaries under his belt, while the analysts were able to send over a package of information about the gangmembers involved, with everything from their tax records to other 911 calls about them, which led the police to valuable witnesses that they might never have contacted.
They are perhaps interested in going into predictive analytics as well, which would allow them to track longer-term factors, like the weather and the moon, even. Another future projects includes taking some of the data public that would allow people to search for crimes in their neighborhood.
A similar project is underway in Kentucky through the Erlanger Police Department and surrounding areas. They also are using WebFocus to effect better crime-fighting, according to police chief Marc Fields.
The system includes Information Builders' new Magnify feature that updates itself every 15 minutes and features a very simple Google-style search that's easy on even the least tech-savvy officer, said detective Steve Castor, who is the communication center manager. They can then delve into the search results to find out more about the dates or locations of the crime, among many other categories.
Like in Texas, the officers' mobile units then become even more useful tools that can communicate real-time crime information to cops on the go. For instance, a traffic stop entered in the system could yield other arrests or auto accidents on their record.
Crime portals can also offer a wealth of information in one place, such as mapped locations and crime stats. "This gives the chiefs the ability to generate reports themselves," said Castor. And, as use of the system goes long-term, they can gather more and more statistics and see what level of labor is needed. "That way," said Fields, "We can control our efforts instead of just throwing stuff at it."