Editor’s note: Today’s guest blogger is Lieutenant LeAnne Browning from the Atlanta Police Department (APD). She and her colleagues have incorporated search and mapping data into police operations to make the department more efficient. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.
At the Atlanta Police Department, our 2,000-plus sworn officers are devoted to working with the community to develop innovative problem-solving strategies. Thanks to these efforts, the crime rate dropped by 44% between 2000 and 2012. We’re proud of our strong reputation among Atlanta residents and law enforcement agencies around the world.
But we know we can always do better, which is why we started Operation Shield back in 2007. The goal is to further prevent crime and improve emergency preparedness with cutting-edge technology and private sector partnerships. One major component is our Video Integration Center (VIC), a surveillance hub and physical security information management platform built with Google Maps technology that gives us instant access to 2,500 cameras throughout the city. When a 911 call comes in, it’s automatically plotted in Google Maps and paired with the nearest live camera images. That way, operators can give real-time information to responding officers rushing to the scene.
Now we’re using Google Search Appliance (GSA) to make the VIC even more powerful. Our partner, Edge360, helped us develop Search360, a search and investigative tool built with GSA that allows operators to search across multiple databases for details like prior incidents at the same address, license plate numbers or descriptions of subjects. Since the system is integrated with Google Maps, it runs automated searches based on geocoding to give analysts fast visual representation of search results. This helps them generate a photographic lineup to send to the responding detective’s mobile data terminal, smartphone or tablet before he or she reaches the crime scene.
Gathering information for investigations used to be slow and tedious. As a detective seven years ago, I had to travel to the scene, interview victims and witnesses, then spend hours or even days back in the office running searches in multiple databases, such as our mugshots database or our report management system. With help from Edge360 and Google, that process is almost instantaneous.
When I joined the department 19 years ago, I never imagined how technology could work in tandem with the traditional tools police officers rely on—our instinct and experience. But that’s exactly what’s happening with Operation Shield. We’re hoping it will improve the quality of life for Atlanta residents by making our streets, parks and neighborhoods safer and more prepared than ever before.