Data Analytics for Safer Communities

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Integrated public safety and public health data platforms can address challenges like the opioid crisis and speed community safety.

With advanced tools that maximize data distributed throughout government systems, law enforcement can improve the speed of investigations and combine data that’s been previously challenging to gather.

Stephen Serrao, criminal justice adviser at SAS, is working on data management visualizations and analytics to make communities safer.

Serrao, who served the New Jersey State Police for 25 years with 17 of them in intelligence, explained that an integrated data analytics platform for public safety can:

  • Reduce crime
  • Enhance investigative outcomes
  • Increase officer and community safety

The company works with governments to resolve entity data and make it available to public safety investigative interfaces that offer reporting, visualizations and automated analyses.

“Let’s talk about the reality of enhancing investigative outcomes,” Serrao said to those in attendance at a special session at the 2018 International City/County Management Association conference.

Investigative data sources might include corrections, CAD, firearms, sex offender registry, utility bills, government call records and social network data. Law enforcement can conduct one query instead of multiple, significantly reducing the time it takes to develop a target profile.

The platform crunches the incident-to-arrest timeline compared to traditional tools — from days to hours, Serrao said. Additional inputs, like extracted cellphone data, can yield results in hours with machine learning technology.

“You want to do this quickly while a suspect is in your jurisdiction,” he said.

The platform provides a “360-degree view in a click of a mouse,” said Serrao — and can prioritize prolific offenders for arrest or social services.

In Cary, North Carolina, it was taking up to two weeks to develop a suspect list from COMSTAT crime statistics data. But now, Cary police can crunch numbers and create a list on a daily basis.

With advanced data analytics, police “can hit the ground running,” said Juan Colon, principal industry consultant, SAS National Director of Opioid & Illicit Drug Solutions.

“Take advantage of the limited resources you have,” Serrao said.

Data Integration Can Improve Public Safety and Public Health Goals

Colon, a former drug policy adviser to the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office and a retired New Jersey State Police officer, said that it took the state about five to six years to codify a process to address spikes in violent crime and overdoses from the opioid crisis.

There were numerous data sources from law enforcement and healthcare. Public safety had to overcome data sensitivities on the healthcare side to develop the Interagency Drug Awareness Dashboard, he said.

The dashboard provides the AG’s office with anonymized, protected health data that links to mapping programs.

The data cleaning process was a huge challenge, and time consuming, Colon said, but as a result, law enforcement started to see correlations. For example, by 2015, New Jersey data efforts indicated that 52 percent of the heroin in the state contained fentanyl. Narcan deployments have increased each year across the state.

Collecting data and managing it, is a critical process, he said. But if the challenge is opioids — and the goal is to save lives — then successful policies and practices can be derived from data analytics.

The goal of IDAD, according to the SAS blog, “is to create a holistic picture of New Jersey’s opioid environment, help develop targeted interventions, develop analytical opioid ‘hot spot’ data and push notifications through the New Jersey Prescription Monitoring Program to providers.

With investigations and bio surveillance, law enforcement can monitor overdose upticks and notify EMS. If there are five or more overdoses in a 10-mile range over 12 hours, partner agencies are informed.

Such knowledge, Colon said, has improved treatment, emergency scheduling, situational awareness, training and informed budgets and needs assessments.

Improve your use of data to enhance public safety and public health.”

While the technology is not yet at the place where police officers are provided decision support tools, further development of data analytics technologies may provide those opportunities in the future.

Learn more about data analytics in our previous coverage:

3 Ways to Improve Fire Service Data

How Cities Can Use ER Data to Establish Violence Interventions

Governments are Using Data to Track & Predict Opioid Overdose

About the author

Andrea Fox

Andrea Fox

Andrea Fox is Editor of EfficientGov.com and Senior Editor at Praetorian Digital. She is based in Massachusetts.