Law Enforcement Mapping and Analysis GIS Helps Combat Crime

In 2003, the United States Attorney’s Office (USAO) faced the challenge of adequately coordinating with local and state law enforcement agencies to support their investigative and preparation processes for major criminal prosecution cases throughout Pennsylvania’s Philadelphia metropolitan region. Each law enforcement agency maintained their own disconnected crime incident records management system and relied primarily on verbal communication to coordinate investigations. Additionally, visualization and analysis tools were not widely available to the law enforcement community, inhibiting their ability to recognize crime patterns in time and space across jurisdictional lines.

Evolutionary Process

The USAO Eastern District of Pennsylvania contracted GeoDecisions to evaluate their needs, design a solution, and deploy the law enforcement technology framework required to improve collaboration.  Our team, including retired law enforcement agents and former crime analysts for major urban police departments, devised an information technology (IT) strategy in conjunction with the USAO, the Mid-Atlantic Great Lakes Organized Crime Law Enforcement Network (MAGLOCLEN), the City of Philadelphia Police Department, and several other local law enforcement agencies in the region. MAGLOCLEN maintains the region’s Regional Information Sharing System node- a secure, federally supported, nationwide law enforcement technology network that, which became the facilitating IT infrastructure for our solution. 

We designed a series of automated crime data integration processes for local law enforcement agencies to leverage, along with an enterprise spatially-enabled geodatabase  hosted at MAGLOCLEN and accessible to stakeholders. In addition to a robust data infrastructure with millions of records, GeoDecisions’ team designed, developed, and deployed a first-of-its-kind crime analysis and mapping application known as the Project Safe Neighborhoods Mapping and Analysis Program (PSN MAP). For the first time in the region, through PSN MAP,  law enforcement agents were able to conduct regional, cross-jurisdictional analysis  enabled by powerful spatially-enabled tools and reports.

To date, the USAO funded and collaborated with GeoDecisions on three separate modernization phases, as successive generations of GIS and web application development technologies became available. Recently, new functionality was deployed leveraging Esri® ArcGIS for Server 10.3, the Javascript API, ArcGIS Online, and Angular. These new functions include intuitive gang boundary drawing and management for analysis purposes, the ability to quickly generate hot spots on the web, and analysis of Narcan administration combating the heroin epidemic. 

Key Benefits

  • Increased multi-jurisdictional investigation effectiveness
  • More effective USAO case preparations
  • Better prepared prosecutions and stiffer criminal sentencing
  • Unprecedented geospatial IT-enabled law enforcement agency collaboration.