Technology joins fight against violent crime

Cutting-edge mapping technology used to take on violent offenders in the US could help the Northern Territory reduce its own high violent crime rate, according to a visiting international crime authority.

Mike King, a law enforcement specialist with global Geographic Information System (GIS) technology giant Esri, has been invited to Darwin this week to advise NT police, investigators and emergency services personnel.

According to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics crime report, the NT has the highest rate of violent crimes per capita of any Australian state or territory.

Mr King said, like their US counterparts, NT law enforcers could benefit from a ‘new generation’ of sophisticated mapping technology.

“Whether it’s driving patterns, the locations of victims’ bodies, or a suspect’s whereabouts – everything has a location,” the 28-year police veteran and former criminal profiler said.

“By themselves these locations may not reveal much, however if you integrate and map this data using GIS technology you can start to see connections that shed new light on a crime.

“Viewing information in this way enables investigators to draw links between the geography of crimes, killers and victims – and link them to behaviour patterns, offender backgrounds and other historical data.

“This provides police commanders with authoritative, actionable intelligence that can be used to accurately track criminal activities – as well as valuable circumstantial evidence that can assist in arrests and convictions.

“GIS technology is already used by many of the world’s leading law enforcement agencies – including the New York and Los Angeles Police Departments – to solve and even prevent violent crimes.

“There is no reason why the same approach would not work to address the issues here in the Northern Territory.”

Mr King is in Darwin this week for the Directions 2013 seminar, a GIS technology showcase hosted by Esri Australia, the market leader in Australia’s $2.1 billion spatial industry.

During his visit to Australia, Mr King has also met with law enforcement and emergency services personnel in South Australia and Western Australia.

In an address to more than 50 of the Northern Territory’s leading spatial experts, Mr King said Australian law enforcement agencies should consider using GIS technology to construct a national criminal database, as has been achieved in the US.

“Too often different policing agencies have distinct jurisdictions in which they collect and manage crime-related data,” Mr King said.

“Offenders certainly aren’t concerned with state boundaries however and an agency’s ability to know of similar crimes in adjacent states or disciplines is limited if it can’t easily draw on intelligence and data beyond these borders.

“In the US, where we have more than 18,000 law enforcement agencies, we face similar challenges and have found that the more we share intelligence, the more successful we are in combating criminal activity.

“Relevant crime-related information can be instantly accessed via a digital map, where it can be analysed and translated into actionable intelligence by various agencies.

“This way it doesn’t matter if a suspect crosses borders because police across the nation have access to the same up-to-date picture of a criminal’s activities and history, and can quickly determine how best to respond.

“Because there are fewer jurisdictional units here in Australia, the task of using GIS technology to bring the country’s data together in a more usable way is certainly within reach.”


Editor (18230 Posts)

Glenn is a geographer and a GIS professional with over 20 years experience in the industry. He's the co-founder of GISuser and several other technology web publications.

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