Police Department Wins Gartner's 2007 BI Excellence Award

A dashboard deployment blending reporting, alerts, predictive analytics and geographic mapping has helped the Richmond Virginia Police Department get ahead of crime.

Doug Henschen, Executive Editor, Enterprise Apps

March 20, 2007

4 Min Read

Chief Rodney Monroe

It was a fitting conclusion for an event that stressed business results over technology. Voting on three finalist presentations at last week's Gartner BI Summit in Chicago, more than 1,000 attendees chose the Richmond Virginia Police Department as the 2007 Gartner BI Excellence Award Winner.

Taking the stage after detailed 20-minute presentations by technology executives from both the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and diesel engine manufacturer Cummins Inc., Chief Rodney Monroe of the Richmond PD declared, "Talk about feeling like a fish out of water. I'm a life-long cop, and I don't know the first thing about technology. When my IT people told me we could predict where the crime would occur, I just scratched my head."

Nonetheless, Monroe said he embraced "a new way of fighting crime," and he sold it to a skeptical force of more than 800 police officers. Richmond had a great deal at stake, as it ranked as the fifth most dangerous city in the U.S. in terms of crime per capita.

The Richmond PD had plenty of data in its 911 and records management systems, but it could draw little insight -- and certainly not timely insight -- from dry 14-day and 30-day stats. "By the time we figured out what was going on, the criminals had moved on," said Monroe.

The department decided to build a Law Enforcement Analytics dashboard combining current and historical 911 and police report information with graphical information and information on citywide events from Richmond.com. WebFocus BI software from Information Builders Inc. (IBI) handles Dashboard presentation and reporting. Incident and aggregate crime data is mapped by location and sector with geographic information systems (GIS) software from ESRI. Analytic software from SPSS adds predictive capabilities that examine civic events, weather and other current conditions in context of historical data.

Rolled out in stages in 2005 and 2006, Richmond PD's new system integrates and analyzes information every eight hours (at the end of every shift), and it delivers timely insight to top officers responsible for each city sector (with broader deployment to individual patrol cars planned for this year). The dashboard not only shows up-to-date crime statistic mapped by area (see screenshot at left), it delivers alerts that users can customize based on their role and area of responsibility.

Click to enlarge in another window Richmond PD's Law Enforcement Analytics Dashboard offers crime stat trends and comparisons, detail mapped by city sector and customizable alerts.

Click to enlarge in another window Mapping capabilities help police pinpoint high-crime areas, drill down for greater detail and correlate types of arrests to specific neighborhoods.

"Now we can take a close look at each sector, and we have alerts that are triggered once we've had three robberies in a particular sector," said Monroe. "That puts the sergeant or lieutenant in that sector on notice that they better do something. That's powerful and that's being proactive in police work."

Mapping capabilities (at right) help police correlate information on specific types of arrests to crime in a given area. For example, analysis revealed that Hispanic neighborhoods in Richmond were plagued by armed robberies on pay days, so the department increased patrols around check cashing establishments on certain days of the month. Similarly, the department now balances patrols based on recent crime by sector, as well as predictive factors such as weather, day of the week and events such as sporting events and concerts that draw large crowds.

The project's success speaks for itself. Major crime declined 21 percent from 2005 to 2006, and it's down another 19 percent this year. In addition, the city has seen a 49-percent reduction in random gunfire incidents, a 246-percent increase in weapons seized and a $15,000 reduction in overtime costs. With these improvements the city dropped from fifth to 15th in "dangerous city" rankings, and it's on track to drop from the top-25 this year.

"I'm a believer," concluded Chief Monroe. "Instead of reacting to crime, we can get out ahead of crime because we now know where and when we need to put soldiers on the street."

About the Author(s)

Doug Henschen

Executive Editor, Enterprise Apps

Doug Henschen is Executive Editor of InformationWeek, where he covers the intersection of enterprise applications with information management, business intelligence, big data and analytics. He previously served as editor in chief of Intelligent Enterprise, editor in chief of Transform Magazine, and Executive Editor at DM News. He has covered IT and data-driven marketing for more than 15 years.

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