To ensure transparency and accountability, Regina Police Service (RPS) has released a modernized public-facing community crime map to improve awareness of crime reported within the city.
Through this interactive mapping application, the public can filter for crime by type, ward, neighbourhood and date period (up to 3 months) of the reported incident. This application is intended to help visualize crime patterns in the community and engage the public in the agency’s overall crime reduction strategies. The end goal is a greater understanding of where those crime reduction investments should take place within the city.
In an interview with Global News, Regina Police Service’s Chief Evan Bray states that “while it does paint a picture and show a reflection of some of the challenges that we have in our community, I think it also maybe illustrates some opportunities and gives us more information, more data and gives us more ability to explore areas that we can make improvements in.”
Regina Police Service started leveraging Esri mapping technology in 2019, and has come a long way in the past few years. RPS is joining several other large Canadian municipalities in using the technology to enhance operational support as well as public reporting. People want to know what is happening where they work, live, and spend time. Elected officials and police commissioners need the most up-to-date information when they attend community meetings about crime and need to offer citizens tips on how to become more informed.
To RPS, it became clear very quickly that Esri mapping technology could help answer many of these questions from the public. And to provide context to the crime data, and thereby enhance the end-user experience, RPS decided to include police districts, community associations and wards. Designing these layers was a bit more work, but the benefits paid off in the first hour of go-live. These were among the first questions RPS received when presenting this to the board and the media:
- Can I see what happened just in my neighbourhood?
- Can I see what is happening in my ward?
Having created those layers, we were able to confidently say “yes” to those questions and provide residents the ability to filter their results to the areas of the city they care deeply about.
After reviewing 50+ police agencies using public crime maps, RPS identified some best practices around what data should be included and how the data should be displayed:
When navigating the community crime map, users will notice that not every crime is included. For example, you will not see crimes of homicide, fraud, or sexual assault. These have been excluded to protect the privacy of victims and their families and comply with legislation.
RPS decided to update the data daily at midnight, with a 24-hour minimum delay. This means that if you were to report a break-and-enter to the Regina Police Service at 8 am today, it will not appear on the map until 8 am tomorrow at the earliest. There are several reasons for this. including trying to improve data quality and provide adequate time for investigations.
When clicking on an incident, the “dot” appears in an intersection and the specific address is anonymized. The community crime map uses an automation process to move each individual occurrence from their original location to a nearby intersection to allow privacy for victims.
Online tools and support from ESRI Canada helped RPS to be successful in developing automation processes that deliver significant efficiencies in managing the data behind the community crime map. The Esri technology leveraged for this application include the Crime Analysis Add-in for ArcGIS Pro, as well as ArcGIS Online, ArcGIS Experience Builder and Survey123.
Providing a tool like the community crime map, RPS can share authoritative information that builds trust with the public and community stakeholders. Over the next year, Esri Canada and RPS will be working together to refine the community crime map, so stay tuned for a future blog on where we go from here!