Harnessing Technology to Enable Real-Time Crime Centers

By TMCnet Special Guest
  |  June 10, 2013

Government agencies ultimately align to one clear focus: to help our cities become places where people and businesses want to establish themselves. Government leaders understand the need to improve public safety performance continually for our cities to thrive. However, these leaders contend with the fact that taxpayers want to pay less, but still expect improvements and advancements in protection, safety and service – resulting in the economic challenge of doing more with less.

With the growing ability for the public to view performance metrics, citizens are now paying more attention and government leaders are facing increased scrutiny and added pressure to meet their expectations. The public can capture images, send text, record video – creating data that government needs, and they expect government to be able to use what they provide. Just about every incident has someone there with a cell phone, ready to document it and share it with first responders.

Data is streaming into government from virtually unlimited sources. Smartphones, social media, video cameras, sensors and alarms are giving public safety agencies the ability to see, hear and do more with less. Yet this abundance of information comes with an enormous challenge: How do agencies operationalize all the data that surrounds them?

Whether citizen multimedia messages or 911 calls, radio traffic or video feeds, police departments across the country are seeking smarter ways to capture, correlate and share all this information – and turn it into usable and actionable intelligence.

Rather than relying on paper reports and dispersed databases, real-time technology is helping law enforcement see a wealth of integrated information with just a few clicks. Instead of spending days or weeks combing through files, police can access the information they need instantly. What’s more, advanced video analytics and sensors that anticipate crowd formations and detect gunshots deliver an additional layer of intelligence. Now when a crowd forms in a high crime area or a gun is fired in a sprawling city park, advanced analytics equip police with the relevant intelligence they need to be more proactive.

The key for public safety agencies is to have a solution in place that brings together information from all the different sources: video, sensors, alarms, computer-aided dispatch and records processed with analytics to deliver a single, real-time operational view. In addition, incident and criminal complaints, arrest records and photographs, national crime databases, and 911 call records can also be utilized. All this data – which resides in separate databases – can be integrated for law enforcement in seconds instead of hours or even days. By integrating multiple streams of multimedia into one unified view, a badged officer in front of monitors can support first responders in the field as an incident develops. Both the technology and applications are giving that officer timely access to information from myriad sources to help the responder confront the situation and solve the crime quickly.

A number of public safety agencies have begun making investments in real-time crime center initiatives to put all the data to work for them. If proper planning is done upfront, they can be designed to receive information from multiple data sources, process them with real-time analytics and deliver that one critical operational view.

As they weigh options and investment strategies, agencies are turning to standards-based private long-term evolution networks to help achieve their future plans for mobile data applications. With the increased bandwidth delivered by LTE (News - Alert), first responders will have access to high-speed connectivity and the ability to securely transmit large amounts of data and video to and from the real-time crime center. Secure dedicated networks are preferred. A recent Motorola (News - Alert) Solutions’ survey of 250 U.S. county, city and state level decision makers found that 87 percent of respondents are worried about the threat of criminals hacking government information over a public network that they don’t control.

Proactive and predictive policing is the wave of the future. Seventy percent of police departments are already using some form of predictive policing. Ninety percent plan to increase their use over the next five years.  As they do, they must operationalize all the information streaming in. By looking at a real-time crime center concept that builds on current infrastructure, law enforcement can move from reacting at a moment’s notice to responding based on intelligent predictions with targeted enforcement activities. When they shift their focus to information-based prevention and better optimization of resources, departments are able to do more with less – without compromising the safety of their citizens or personnel.

Tom Miller (News - Alert) is the director of government & public safety markets for the North America customer solutions division of Motorola Solutions ( Prior to joining Motorola, Miller spent 25 years with the Michigan State Police Department and retired as the deputy director.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi