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Celebrating GIS Day with York Regional Police: How GIS Data Has Mitigated Risk & Increased Efficiency in Crime Prevention

Today marks the 20th anniversary of International GIS Day! At Geocortex we’re always inspired by the positive stories were hear from our customers who are using GIS in new and innovative ways to help make the world a better place to live.

We recently caught up with Greg Stanisci of the York Regional Police to chat with him about their use of Active Operating Picture, an extension for Geocortex Essentials that helps respond to emergency situations with reliable information.

 

How were your operations being carried out prior to making the decision to integrate a GIS solution?

Greg Stanisci [GS]: Before integrating our Active Operating Picture (AOP) solution, our Real-Time Operation Centre (RTOC) had to go hunting for data on important issues, which meant they were seeking data all day long. Now, our GIS solution gives us that data immediately, helping us identify priority calls and better manage our resources, so the overall impact has been an increase in efficiencies and a reduction in the risks associated with the lack of awareness around not always knowing what our priorities are.

What were some of your GIS goals prior to adopting the YRP Active Operating Picture?

[GS]: We believed that mapping technology was one of the best ways to visualize police information and bridge communication between our officers. Everything we do is location-based, and we wanted to interconnect GIS with our team of analysts, investigators, front line officers, supervisors and senior officers to better collaborate and respond to situations.

It was our goal to support a more data-driven strategy that revolved around utilizing our resources in the most efficient way possible. Ultimately, we wanted to empower our force with data, and use that data to drive the way we plan our operations.

Can you explain how York Regional Police is currently deploying AOP technology?

[GS]: In a nutshell, we’re using AOP to provide more information in real time to and from the many different members on our team. This ranges from a variety of different applications such as enhancing road safety, preventing crimes before they happen, locating missing people, and accessing information about known offenders. AOP enables us to better streamline the way these processes are managed.

Additionally, the analytics we use in AOP helps us analyze our police presence in a given area to gain more insight into historical deployment patterns, giving us the ability to plan future front line deployment more strategically based on the data we’re receiving.

Describe your how AOP supports your Real-Time Operation Centre (RTOC).

[GS]: One of the primary functions of the RTOC is to mitigate risks to officers in our community. Thanks to AOP, our operatives no longer need to seek important information like priority calls and other alerts, how many units are assigned and whether officers arrived at their destination safely – the information is delivered to them directly.

AOP gives us visibility into which of our officers are currently in the field, the sectors they’ve been assigned to, whether they’re responding to a call, as well as the details of the call itself. AOP also warns us when a patrol sector is empty so that we can actively manage that risk as well. This helps us empower the people within the RTOC with more information, so they can better support our officers.

We’ve worked with our RTOC team to compile a list of roughly thirty different types of priority calls. These priorities can be displayed very quickly and easily for them to respond to as they occur.

How has AOP technology been used to better deal with countering crime in the York Region?

[GS]: AOP technology has allowed us to make more intelligent and proactive decisions with our resourcing. We’re able to put officers in the right place, at the right time. We’re also training officers to analyze the various data points, like heatmaps, to better understand where they’re most needed. AOP helps us leverage location based data to identify priority patrol zones for officers, like areas that have higher gun violence or gang activity as an example.

What have been some success stories that have occurred since onboarding AOP?

[GS]: We’ve diffused quite a few situations since we’ve started using AOP. It has been used to ID suspects that committed a string of commercial break and enters, including a string of thefts that took place at various liquor stores. The technology allowed us to link together a series of prescription fraud cases, ultimately helping us identify the suspects. We were also able to make key arrests to several wanted persons due to the data we were able to relay in AOP.

Thanks to AOP, our ROTC -- as well as front-line officers -- are able to help deter crimes happening in real-time, such as a terrorist threat at Canada's Wonderland amusement park, and a bank robbery that was in progress.

Have all your officers been trained on the technology?

[GS]: Currently, all frontline officers and investigators have been trained on AOP technology. AOP is being used in both their cars and on their desktops. There are also some civilian administrative groups that are using AOP for planning and crime analysis purposes.

Thanks Greg! One final question - are there any plans for further use of GIS in future applications?

[GS]: We’re hoping to get further use of the “after action playback” mode, which can playback events and how units responded throughout the day. This can provide context on where our zones were created and the maps we drew to better assess how we dealt with a response.

It is also our hope to soon run workflows that convert individual unit points to lines to see how our officers and platoons drove during that date. This will give us a better idea on exactly where we were patrolling on a street level and determine which neighborhoods require a heightened presence.

Another future idea we had in mind was to develop a site to track bail checks that are done by officers on the road. This would allow an officer to use a form that would then update on the map, preventing duplicate checks from taking place in a day.

Finally, we’d like to explore how our officers’ GPS alerts are generated based on if they’re in a priority zone or near know offenders or other types of hazards.

GIS Day In Your Community

Every year on November 14th, GIS Day gives us a special opportunity to turn the world into a forum for one day, advocating the impact that geographic technology has on our everyday lives in ways that we may have otherwise taken for granted. Around the world, organizations host educational sessions to spread information, solutions and knowledge on how GIS is improving operations everywhere to make our cities cleaner, safer, better resourced and more efficient.

For more information on GIS Day, we recommend visiting the official website. It offers plenty of information about GIS events happening in your communities, as well as treasure trove of valuable resources.

We invite you to share your GIS Day stories with us in the comments section below!