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Smart maps transforming crime fighting, says global expert

By Clarice Africa 14 Apr 2015

One of the world’s leading crime mapping experts is in Singapore to advise global law enforcement officials on how smart mapping technology can prevent and combat local and transnational crimes.

Attending security conference INTERPOL World, Mr John Beck, Industry Manager - Law Enforcement at Esri, will meet with global security and law enforcement professionals to demonstrate how smart mapping technology – commonly known as Geographic Information System (GIS) technology – can be used in the areas of public safety, supply chain security and cybersecurity.

Mr Beck said GIS technology can integrate and analyse multiple data sources – such as incident locations, offender data, camera and social media feeds, and any other location data  – to create a dynamic and interactive smart map of information.

“For example, in 2014 the Santa Clara Police Department in California was alerted to an assault at a football match through tweets posted by spectators,” Mr Beck said.

“Combining this information with images from live camera feeds, the Esri GIS platform installed at the stadium helped police officers to quickly identify and apprehend the suspects within minutes.”

While in Singapore, Mr Beck will showcase an advanced smart mapping solution that takes retrospective patterns of crime that can help law enforcers forecast where crime is likely to occur in the future.

“Although law enforcement agencies have used smart mapping solutions to identify and analyse patterns and trends in crime since the 1990s, today’s technological advancements have enabled digital maps to not just allow for more efficient crime-fighting but also predict offences,” said Mr Beck.

“Ultimately, the solution could help boost Singapore’s public safety by enabling law enforcement agencies to allocate resources more efficiently, and identify potential hotspots.”

Esri Singapore Chief Executive Officer Thomas Pramotedham said with GIS, on-ground police officers have been able to better analyse crime situations in their areas, in order to develop an effective crime-fighting plan.

“Locally, we are starting to see an increase in the use of GIS for crime analysis and identifying trends,” Mr Pramotedham said.

“Knowing the frequency and type of crimes in a certain locality has allowed for agencies to carefully select the right deterrent methods to be deployed.

“These methods could include adding of surveillance cameras, increasing more patrol drive through or simply lighting up a back alley.”

The Safe City Test Bed for example, is a project spearheaded by the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Singapore Economic Development Board aimed at testing advanced technologies such as GIS to improve public safety efforts. 

Meanwhile, local authorities in Singapore such as Singapore Police Force, Central Narcotics Bureau and the Ministry of Home Affairs are also amongst the many key agencies that are already leveraging on GIS to make Singapore a safer city.

“It’s been a privilege to work with and support our local law enforcers in their fight against crimes thus far, and we are committed to providing leading-edge solutions that will help them analyse trends to determine the appropriate preemptive or deterrent strategies,” Mr Pramotedham said.

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