GIS and Crime Fighting

In Oct 2000 CBS launched a new TV show named “The District”. For those that don’t remember it, it starred Craig T. Nelson as Chief Jack Mannion, chief of the Washington D.C. police department. During each episode there was a few minutes that the chief used the department’s GIS system to help solve the crime of the week. Now being the GIS geek that I was back then (side note: I was using ESRI 3.X and AutoCAD back then) and my first career was law enforcement with the Army, I was hooked on watching it each week. The GIS system that was used on the show was ESRI based. If you watch close enough and knew the software you could see the little clues.

In the early years of GIS not many cities or other government police department were aware of GIS or how to use it to fight crime. Now just about every major city or county police force use it to some extends. Just do a search on sex offenders in your area and you will get a web based map with convicted sex offenders located on it. GIS is also being used to track other crimes and activities with that info (in limited form) available to the public by web mapping today. But did you know that back in 1998 the City of Oakland CA. launched a web site named Crime Watch. This was 2 years early than CBS aired “The District”. A web based map showing the residents of  Oakland where crimes were reported in the city.

Crime Watch was one of the first web based mapping systems that the general public could use. Built on Autodesk Map Guide 4.0 it allowed a visitor to the site to enter an address and then it return a map of that area with the reported crimes, as symbols related to the crime, on the map. Web base mapping has improved since the Crime Watch days along with Map Guide. With open source applications and Google Maps almost anyone can set up their own Crime Watch.

Now don’t think that because you may not have a Map Guide Enterprise site to map out the crime in your city or any other GIS Enterprise for that matter you can not use GIS to fight crime. With AutoCAD MAP 3D you can still fight crime and track it on your desktops. By using SDF data you can create the data to analysis with buffers and overlays. Using a polygon feature to show known gang territories and with points features for major crimes you can do basic analysis to help  solve those crimes or curtail the gang activities. Adding traffic accidents into the maps you can pin point areas that may need extra patrols. Of course most major police departments know this already but the great thing about using the GIS capabilities in AutoCAD MAP 3D is you can display that data, plot it out and use those printed maps to show city administers and budget controllers why you need the funding for those projects. Even in courts, evidences can be presented to the jurors and the court to get rulings that may have been impossible before.

So if you are with a small government agency with a limited police force inform them that AutoCAD MAP 3D can help take a bite out of crime.

3 Responses to “GIS and Crime Fighting”


  1. 1 Rick Chappell 08/30/2010 at 5:54 PM

    Good post Murph. Another one of the cop shows (one of the CSIs) had an episode where the criminal used GIS to find homes that were paid of by retirees (same owner for 30+ years) and would sell them out from under the retirees. The story was one of the retirees found out his home had been sold, found the guy and killed him. Hollywood gets it – now we just need to get users to see the capabilities.

  2. 2 liverpool solicitor 08/18/2010 at 9:32 AM

    I never realised auto cad could help with these types of things, thought it was mainly for architects and builders- so thanks for the education.

    • 3 map3d 08/18/2010 at 9:53 AM

      A lot of people do not know the power of AutoCAD and AutoCAD MAP 3D. Autodesk needs the users that have been in the trenches to be part of the marketing team along with their “degreed” marketing team.


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