Seattle police turn big data into real-time crime maps

Oct 09, 2015

Map.jpgThe problem of sifting through reservoirs of big data is not unique to federal IT services. On local and state levels, municipal entities must consider new and innovative approaches to harnessing what data is available to them, whether in the form of call recordings, public documents or traffic reports, to improve the community. In some cases, the implementation of effective data management can be a matter of life and death. 

Keeping tabs on local crime
Seattle law enforcement has recently demonstrated one way in which data can come to the rescue for city's nearly 700,000 residents. It's called the Real Time Crime Center, and it will providereal-time updates for patrolling officers through the use of a sophisticated dashboard computer manned by IT experts, crime analysts and detectives, according to a recent report from The Seattle Times.

Traditional analytics methods used by local law enforcement took hours, and sometimes days to spot trends in events. The Real Time Crime Center can draw connections in minutes by physically displaying the number of calls according to priority level and geographic location on monitors or wall-mounted screens.

"By virtue of seeing all of this information at once, there is a way to tie things together," Brandon Bouier, creator of the dashboard, told The Seattle Times.

Big data strategies are key
Knowingly, or unknowingly, the Seattle Police Department has essentially employed the equivalent of a sophisticated analytics system. The Real Time Crime Center basically turns zeros and ones into a real-time crime map of a major U.S. metropolis, making it easier to connect the dots between similar crimes while also enhancing the efficacy of first responders. As municipal and federal infrastructure continues to integrate new technologies such as cloud computing and smart security equipment, the significance of real-time acquisition and management of big data will continue to occupy the spotlight.  

In fact, the concept of the smart city is no longer just an idea; governments, private companies and think tanks are already starting to band together in an effort to orchestrate the future of urban environments. In Buenos Aires, for example, flood management teams have already installed sensors in storm drains that can measure the direction, speed and quantity of water in real time, according to Forbes. 

As more smart-city initiatives such as Seattle's Real Time Crime Center and Buenos Aires' smart flood systems move into implementation, data's clout will ascend to new levels. Now more than ever, big data strategies are vital to the advancement of society and civilization.