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Westminster, California Police Map Local Crime, Improve Patrols via MetaEdge's C-Insight Analysis Engine

  • July 01 2002, 1:00am EDT

REVIEWER: Lt. Derek Marsh, director of administrative services/information technology for Westminster Police Department (City of Westminster, California).

BACKGROUND: Located in Orange County, California, Westminster is a community of 88,000 residents located just a few miles inland from the Pacific Ocean. The Westminster Police Department (WPD), comprised of 105 officers and 44 full-time support staff, has made a commitment to advancing its law enforcement practices via a number of progressive high- tech systems and methods. Among those are database-driven tools for criminalysis, community policing, accident analysis and more.

PLATFORMS: C-Insight is being used with Microsoft SQL2000 (Service Pack 2), running on dual processors, 1GB of RAM. Storage capacity consists of three 36GB hard drives in RAID 5 configuration.

PROBLEM SOLVED: By merging two crime databases, C-Insight is making it possible to perform sophisticated analysis, mapping local crime patterns and increasing the ability of the WPD to anticipate crimes such as auto theft, robberies and other crimes of opportunity. C-Insight's all-in-one pricing also met departmental needs, as public funds are always tight. A simple, inclusive solution was imperative.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: C-Insight is a powerful analysis engine that has multiple applications in the field of law enforcement including crime analysis. C-Insight aggregates data from various sources in various locations and then transforms that data into actionable information that enables proactive crime fighting. C-Insight's spatial visualization component enables classic push-pin mapping and drill down capabilities. Through an intuitive interface and automated processes, C-Insight reduces the time and cost required to develop crime intelligence applications. The solution offers increased flexibility over traditional "star-schema" implementations and can integrate with most third-party reporting and OLAP tools. MetaEdge's C-Insight platform provides predictive functionality, allowing for the creation of forward-looking and exploratory models. The software also provides an integrated toolset, as well as built-in wizards and other ease of use features that minimize costs by eliminating the need for outside consultants.

STRENGTHS: Unlike other solutions offering a la carte components, C-Insight is a single, cost-effective, easy to install, and easy-to- use package that can quickly combine disparate databases into a single data warehouse. C-Insight allows the WPD to analyze crime patterns in depth and generate detailed maps overlaying different data sets. Due to its straightforward browser interface, C-Insight requires minimal technical expertise to use; in fact, nontechnical staff can use the software with little training. C-Insight's comparatively low price makes it attractive for smaller organizations to purchase.

WEAKNESSES: C-Insight's browser interface is not as robust as some other solutions.

SELECTION CRITERIA: From the outset, the WPD determined it wanted an affordable, integrated and intuitive suite of back- and front-end tools that would eliminate the need to purchase, learn and manage multiple independent components. Ease of use was a critical factor, as the WPD wished to empower its line-level staff of supervisors and patrol officers with a simple way to gain proactive insights from local crime data.

DELIVERABLES: C- Insight's spatial analysis features make it possible to toggle between a map and traditional data tables; jump from a specific crime incident with all relevant details to a summarized multi-year crime trend perspective; and create a comprehensive report of all criminal activities in a designated area by clicking on a hot spot on the map. The platform can also be used for advanced criminal profiling to identify targeted suspects as well as complex crime patterns. Highly detailed profiles combining multiple attributes that can be produced on C-Insight using a simple point-and-click procedure eliminated the need for coding and data modeling. For example, users can examine the incidence of various criminal activities based on a combination of geographical location, average income level, population density, or other census, INS or economic data. Multiple profiles can then be superimposed on each other for deeper analysis.

VENDOR SUPPORT: MetaEdge's vendor support is very good. MetaEdge installation and technical support personnel have been readily available via phone and e-mail, providing prompt answers whenever the police department needed them.

DOCUMENTATION: MetaEdge supplies full documentation for C-Insight, although the WPD relied heavily on vendor staff during installation.

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