U.S. attorney in N.Y. uses mapping software to sort case jurisdictions
- By Merry Mayer
- Oct 19, 1998
The U.S. Attorneys Office for the Southern District of New York is using mapping
software to keep track of several federal law enforcement investigations in the district.
Using an application built around ArcView geographic information systems software from
Environmental Systems Research Institute Inc. of Redlands, Calif., prosecutors can
determine which criminal cases fall under their purview, and then coordinate
investigations, said Elizabeth Glazer, a supervisory assistant U.S. attorney.
Several federal law enforcement agencies investigate crimes in the Southern District,
including the FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Immigration and Naturalization
Service, Drug Enforcement Administration and Marshals Service, among others.
Using the software, attorneys determine whether crimes occurred near jurisdictional
boundaries, which can help prove a pattern of crime or help another agency solve a case.
Its useful because you can find where your cooperators are,
Glazer in July won the Attorney Generals Award for Excellence in Information
Technology for coming up with the idea.
Colin Reilly, a research assistant with the City University of New York, customized the
software for the U.S. Attorneys Office.
Reilly took base maps from the ArcView software and added case data to the display. The
maps include landmarks, such as street names, addresses, housing projects and playgrounds,
The application taps a Microsoft Access database that contains case details, defendant
histories, warrants and wiretap orders, among other things, Reilly said. The GIS maps
display where crimes occurred, where arrests took place, and the addresses and other
personal information of defendants, he said.
The database and app run under Microsoft Windows NT on a 400-MHz Dell Computer Corp.
Power Edge 2300 server with 500M of RAM and a 9.1G hard drive, Reilly said.
U.S. attorneys are not allowed to access the data freely; they must request a search.
Much of the data is confidential, so access is controlled, Reilly said.
The ArcView software costs about $1,000; the entire system, hardware included, cost
$20,000, Reilly said.
But the software requires a level of technical support that can be expensive, Glazer
said. You also must be willing to dedicate clerical staff to input the
data, she said.