IBM Fighting Crime in Real Time

By Kane, Christopher | Law & Order, September 2007 | Go to article overview
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IBM Fighting Crime in Real Time

Kane, Christopher, Law & Order

Everyone from your neighbor to your representative in Congress has probably, at some time, shared his personal view for how technology could help law enforcement to make the public safer and more secure. At the same time, police managers know one of the fundamental aspects of reducing crime is the ability to access crucial information in a real-time environment, which narrows the gap between incident and apprehension.

IBM and Cognos recognized a critical point where technology and society intersect. This point is where technology could have a huge and tangible impact on society by applying data management and analysis techniques to solve the problem of multiple information sources and repositories. In the past, a gap here has limited law enforcement's ability to react quickly to both emerging and established crime trends.

"The Real Time Crime Center technologies placed unprecedented crimefighting capabilities into the hands of the NYPD, capabilities that were unthinkable just two years ago," said NYPD Deputy Commissioner V. James Onalfo, the chief information officer. "Before the creation of the Real Time Crime Center, it would take hours or days to access the wealth of information now available to detectives within minutes. The data integration backbone of the Real Time Crime Center, helps turn immense amounts of raw data from disparate sources into a cohesive and understandable 'big picture' that is immediately leverageable by detectives in the field."

Criminal investigation and community policing is, at its heart, a data intensive business function. To achieve the original goal of making America a safer and more secure place for all, police agencies must have access to the data they collect in real time. This helps front-line officers to both investigate crime more effectively and also respond in real time to emerging crime trends.

"Previously, when consolidating data across diverse systems, the NYPD relied on custom-coded, COBOL-based data integration programs, which are costly and time-consuming to write and difficult to change," Onalfo said. "We now have an enterprise data integration platform capable of sustaining our full range of integration projects in a high-quality, plug-and-play fashion. The Real Time Crime Center was up and running within nine months, or in just half the time that would have been required had the NYPD relied on traditional hand-coded integration methods."

The New York Police Department challenge was clear; develop a system to help officers through the gathering and dissemination of crime data and criminal information while also providing analysis of the crime statistics, trends and patterns in a manner making crime fighting faster and more efficient. One of the key methods of reducing crime is to shorten the time between the occurrence of a crime and the apprehension of the perpetrator. The Crime Information Warehouse (CIW) helps law enforcement officials do just that.

"We want to use every advantage technology has to offer in suppressing crime. With the Real Time Crime Center, our detectives have a new partner in crime fighting," said NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly.

Today, most police departments gather data on offenses, arrests, suspects, victims and witnesses, and warehouse this data on separate, often incompatible IT systems. It can take a team of crime analysts days, or even weeks, to manually sift through hundreds of police reports and spreadsheets to identify a crime pattern or serial offender.

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