Law Enforcement and Public Safety

Crime Data Analysis in Law Enforcement

Everything you need, from data to visualizations

The Availability of Crime Data for Analytics

When tackling crime data analysis in law enforcement, the first thing you’ll see is how hard it is to get the right data into the hands of people who need it. 

Crime data analysis isn’t like policing operations. There are many systems that capture crime data, often automatically, such as jail records, investigation management systems, Record Management Systems (RMS), and Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD). These systems are designed to ensure that an individual gets a specific piece of information at a specific point in a process. 

The issue is that they’re inflexible, narrowly tailored, and don’t provide any more than those specific pieces of information. They’re designed to assist in managing a process, not to answer broader questions or provide decision support to law enforcement personnel.

Artist's rendering of crime data analysis
Police officer using mobile device to do crime data analysis

There’s plenty of data to analyze, though. Not only are all of these operational systems capturing data, but law enforcement organizations can augment that with external data regarding weather, demographics, and other factors that affect the location, frequency, and type of crimes being committed.

If they want to answer a question that will help them improve resource deployments, crime clearance, or officer safety, law enforcement personnel need to go to different systems, log into them (often not using single sign-on), capture the data elements they need, and put each one into a spreadsheet -- and only then start to evaluate what the data is telling them.

And forget about getting answers in real time. 

There’s a lot of data, too many systems, not enough data literacy, and not enough time to do crime data analysis effectively.

Solving the data problem

With applications from different vendors, none of which have a vested interest in working together, police agencies need to find a vendor-agnostic way to deliver integrated, easy-to-use crime data analytics. This isn’t a rip-and-replace of existing applications, because those systems are still needed to manage processes. Instead, crime data analysis takes place on top of integrated data that comes from these applications, as well as other sources, in real time if necessary. 

That integration process is complex. Codes from different systems need to be reconciled. Errors in names, addresses, and other data need to be fixed. Individuals who have been through multiple processes (e.g., arrest, trial, imprisonment) need to be identified as the same person – and different people with similar names need to be distinguished from each other.

When individual law enforcement staff are required to do crime analysis data integration by hand each time a new question is asked, it becomes an error-prone, non-repeatable process.

A solid data integration foundation that includes data quality management (fixing bad data), master data management (connecting the dots between systems for a given person), reference data management (reconciling codes across applications), and more can make integration a continuous, real-time, process that’s foundational for crime data analysis, police operations, and a variety of other requirements.

Making it easy for officers on the street

Police officers need to be able to use the results of crime data analysis or it won’t even get close to its potential benefit. That may sound obvious, but there are many situations in which only data specialists have access to the tools that support crime analysis and prevention.

They need simplicity, but not static reports. They need easy access, but not a data dump. They need it in their cars and on mobile devices as well as at headquarters.

Law enforcement personnel benefit from getting crime data analysis in several ways:

Many police agencies describe this as “Search for cops.” (In fact, they usually use a trademarked name in place of “search.”)

Predictive policing predicts where, when, and what crime is most likely take place. This may include methods for predicting crimes, offenders, perpetrators’ identities, and victims.

Proactive alerts tell law enforcement personnel when certain criteria are reached. 

They should also be able to push information back into the system – perhaps information about suspicious activity that they can’t follow up on, because they’re heading to an active crime scene – in a simple, fast, intuitive way.

Next-Generation Software for Data-Driven Policing

Information Builders provides next-generation software for crime data analysis and other aspects of data-driven policing.

 

Screen capture of crime data analysis software solution

 

Our data and analytics platform can:

  • Improve the quality of data. Some systems are notorious for dirty policing data. When names, addresses, and other data points are wrong, our data quality capabilities can improve it. 
  • Make it easier to reconcile data from different systems. If you’re using Lexis-Nexis and Motorola systems, for example, and they have different orders of data entry or use different codes, our software can reconcile the different standards and make it easy to exchange information between systems or collate data from both of them. 
  • Bring data together about bad actors from multiple systems. By “mastering” the information about suspects, convicts, and others, we can relate people even when they use aliases, change addresses, or simply move through the justice system.
  • Provide the visualizations needed to help understand what’s happening now, what trends have brought us to this point, and what’s likely to happen in the future. 
  • Deliver real-time alerts to help situational awareness, to inform officers when someone else is querying a person or incident they’re investigating, and to improve case deconfliction. 

It manages the entire process of data management and analytics, from onboarding, cleansing, and integrating through visualizing, reporting, and distribution.

Learn More About Our Next-Gen Policing Platform