Government Technology magazine profiles the New York Police Department’s new Real Time Crime Centere, headed by Jim Onalfo. The center is designed to give investigators the jump-start needed in those critical first 48 hours after the commission of a crime — when getting the right lead can mean an arrest before the trail goes cold. Onalfo said the center takes the grunt work out of investigating crimes, and allows detectives to do what they’re good at — forensic analysis and solving crimes. The center instantly provides 911 information and GIS maps for detectives, displayed on about 20 Mitsubishi panels that constitute what’s known as the data wall. “We can throw information up on these screens — if you have a case where you need to have five or six different pieces of information, you could never see it on one computer screen, so it goes perfectly up on the data wall,” Onalfo said.
“Anything that enhances the decision-makers’ situational awareness is beneficial,” said Matt Snyder of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. “Anything that removes the clouds on the battlefield is a great thing.” Before the crime center was built, each precinct worked separately, with little or no coordination between them. Now the center gives detectives and other personnel from each precinct an understanding of what the others are doing, via feedback directly from the center. The crime center funnels critical information from multiple databases into one data warehouse, and combines that information with MapInfo’s MapXtreme technology. “When [the officer] gets there, he now has more information about the scene, which will give him a running start. That’s a huge difference,” Onalfo said. “First we tell them what’s been going on around that location — here are the parolees or perpetrators who live in the area, here are similar crimes that have occurred in that area. Think of it as a super detective help desk.”