GIS dispels the fog around San Francisco crime

A new mapping tool shows San Francisco police officers crime hot spots.

City police has launched a crime-mapping geographic information system, joining the ranks of other departments in New York and Austin, Texas.

Crime Mapping Analysis for Public Safety, or CrimeMaps, works through the city's existing GIS. Police officers and crime analysts access CrimeMaps by browser or with a remote-access application from Citrix Systems Inc. of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Officers can view color-coded crime density levels and patterns. Each officer can set threshold alerts if, say, 10 or more burglaries occur in a patrolled neighborhood.

'Officers here have never been able to see this before,' said Erich Seamon, technology manager of the city's Telecommunications and Information Services Department. Seeing hot spots and trends graphically will make it easier to allocate crime-fighting resources, he said.

CrimeMaps runs on a secure network protected with firewalls, log-ins and passwords. 'You have to be on a police PC to access this network,' Seamon said. 'It's very locked-down security.'

CrimeMaps uses the ArcSDE spatial-data engine from ESRI of Redlands, Calif., with an IBM DB2 database. The ArcIMS Internet map server pushes requested data out to officers over two clustered spatial servers, and the officers view it with ArcView.

The enterprise GIS runs on a server farm from Citrix Systems Inc. of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Most officers access CrimeMaps with a Web browser, but some crime analysts log in to the Citrix network instead.

While the city was developing CrimeMaps, 'police said they wanted to see the information that comes in as 911 calls,' so the 911 network is feeding that data into the database, Seamon said.
Because CrimeMaps takes in so much data, the department is installing a 40T storage area network from EMC Corp. of Hopkinton, Mass. 'Eventually we'd like to incorporate mug shots,' he said.

The department last fall received $1.5 million from the U.S. Justice Department to fund CrimeMaps.

About the Author

Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.

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