Tag Archives: GIS maps for policing

Rains, Floods, Disasters and Technology

Yesterday¬†Mumbai had a harrowing night with the downpour of 300 mm of rains in one day. Many office goers stayed back at their offices and others who braved the waterlogged streets to head home were helped by local residents and Ganpati mandals and gurudwaras and mosques, with offers of food/water and shelter. Each and every time, Mumbaikars respond to calamities, with a great display of collective humane behaviour that shows the city’s citizen resilience towards facing problems.

There are reports today of the good presence of the city police on the roads through the night and their work in keeping the traffic situation in control despite very slow movement of vehicles through waist deep waters at many places. The sensitivity and responsiveness of the Mumbai Police twitter handle during the entire ordeal was really good and has been much appreciated by the users.

What does this episode of natural disaster teach us to do better next time?

1. Mumbai has more than 4700 CCTV cameras across the city. Whatever are the informative images from these cameras could be linked to the Mumbai Police twitter ¬†handle so that situational information of what’s happening further up the road, is better communicated to the road users.

2. Electronic Board displays on roads could be increased in number substantially-again for better information dissemination.

3. Motorists typically rely on google maps to show them the fastest possible route to their destination. But in disaster times, such routes could be impassable. And they have no way of knowing that. Police can use GIS maps integrated with CCTV network as one very useful tool to periodically update and inform road users of the state of road and traffic conditions. A single map based view of the city with the ability to choose what geospecific information you want to see could be a great boon to the information hungry citizen stuck in a disaster situation. Currently, for the road users, there is no aggregation of the ground information on a map of the city. Further, traffic policemen can take photographs/videos of the traffic congestion at waterlogged sites on the roads not covered by CCTV cameras, thereby fixing lat-longs of such sites across the city on the map and giving a holistic view of the water logging and traffic congestion problem across the city. . Motorists and home goers viewing the state of road traffic on the map can then take informed decisions for travel. For the police on the road, this information can empower their man on the ground to take measures on the basis of the larger picture on the map to divert traffic away from waterlogged cul de sacs in his local area.
4. GIS map-based visual information on the Police website can additionally be used to display information on food/water/shelter sites across the city. Such information of voluntary efforts by citizens was seen to circulate on Whatsapp and Twitter last night. Aggregated information of these volunteer activities as well as the official arrangements, helps to reassure and keep calm despite a disaster situation. Electronic display boards could also display such information.

5. Hashtags for specific themes like traffic movement or voluntary aid in food/water/shelter can be used by police for collecting information and pictures from the public users of social media. This  information could then be placed on the map for users to get information relevant to their needs. Such map based aggregation of information will also be very useful to the police control room to respond with useful guidance to distressed callers.

In disaster situations, people look to government for proper information and relief. And technology can provide that single point authentic source for coordinating an effective response.

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Visualisation Tools for Police Leaders

The past few months I’ve been working on using data for better quality of decision making, better ability to supervise and for better utilisation of resources in police. As a result, two technology projects have come about – which are worth replicating in every state in the country and the central armed police force.

1. GIS based decision support project.

The Maharashtra Remote Sensing Applications Center based in Nagpur has georeferenced digital base maps for Maharashtra’s topography. These maps are on the GIS platform, and have added layers of data on top of the base digital layer. All state and national highways, district/city roads, railway lines, water bodies, forests of the state have been mapped on the base map. With help from MRSAC , we could ‘geofence’ police station boundaries on the base map for all the 1117 police stations in the state and thereafter outline the 36 police districts and 10 Commissionerates, thus creating a layer for adding crime and other police data to a map.

This layer pulls the daily crime report(DCR)data as compiled by the state crime records bureau and projects it on the map police station wise/district wise. So a visual DCR showing distribution of serious crime over the past 24 hours is available on mobile devices. Another layer called Crime Tracker has been added. This layer is based on the online FIRs recorded throughout the state in the CCTNS software. A daily web service of tabulated information on FIRs is received from the CCTNS server , and mapped on the GIS software without any further manual data entry, for a visual view of the distribution of crimes taking place-police station wise. One can check on crime across the state or Range/district or Commissionerate wise. One can check on various periods-like Crime on the previous day/week/month or year or any other designated period. Another feature is the visualisation of distribution of groupings of crimes-like crimes against women, property crimes or public order disturbances or body offences or crimes against children or crime in any other specific law or section of law.

This technology tool should enable the chiefs of various police units like districts or Commissionerates or the Railway police in Maharashtra to detect evolving police station based crime hotspots or new trends in the movement of crimes, which in turn should help them think of strategies to arrest those trends and prevent future crimes. Data based information which will now be constantly available to them, should result in more accurate guidance on crime control by the unit chiefs. And the overall better grip on crime control should yield better safety for people.

In the next phase of the project, it is aimed to make available for public, certain map based data on geographical distribution of intensity of crime. This will enable people to check on safer localities to move in for residence/business. It is also on the cards that once we are in a position to pin the exact (latitudinal-longitudinal) location of crime of every FIR on the map, the in-charge of the police stations will also be able to use this software for strategic thinking on crime control and prediction within their own police station area.

2. Business intelligence analytics for monitoring expenditure

With the help of a few young interns in the Maharashtra Chief Minister’s Fellowship program, we have created a business intelligence tool on Microsoft’s PowerBI software for monitoring and comparing expenditures on various budget heads across all units of Maharashtra Police. This tool enables visualisation of fund allocations and expenditures across all Commissionerates or across all districts in a Range, on a single screen. This enables a comparative view across peer units and is expected to lead to the police chiefs paying attention to resource allocation within their units. The software tool also shows the comparative performance of units on certain parameters like expenditure per crime or per police station or per employee.

The core idea here is that budgetary allocation and expenditure should be continuously assessed for the outcomes desired. These outcomes for the police department can be: 1. Clean and properly maintained police stations and offices, 2. Control on crime, 3. Good morale of the police personnel, 4. Peaceful and safe public spaces, 5. Healthy police personnel, etc.

For these outcomes what is needed from finance is the foll: adequate and continuous spending on Wages of contractual labour and office expenses for no 1 above, appropriate per crime expenditure on rewards to police personnel, domestic travel expenses, vehicle fuel, personnel training, prisoners diet expenditure and such other heads of account for nos 2 & 4 above, also spending on community policing programs (if there is a budgetary allocation for the same) for no 4 above, immediate drawal of bills to pay dues of employees like leave compensation or off day compensation or medical reimbursement etc will achieve satisfactory performance on 3 & 5 above.

With about 90-95% of most state police budgets allocated for paying salaries, there is a great need for extracting the last drop of juice from every rupee spent on non salary items. And what better way to do this than to continuously monitor the expenditure from various budgetary grants for the desired outcomes. Technology helps to do this seamlessly.

Both these tools are available to the Superintendents of Police and Commissioners of Police in Maharashtra and their supervisory officers on the Maharashtra Police website.