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Mapping the Path to Problem Solving

NCJ Number
Date Published
October 1999
8 pages
This article explains how computer mapping and geographic information systems (GIS) are used in a variety of criminal justice and public safety settings, including law enforcement, collaborative enforcement and problem solving efforts, and corrections.
Advances in computer hardware, software, and networking have made computer mapping more widely available in the last 10 years. Mapping has had a highly visible role in departmentwide transformations at the New York City and Chicago Police Departments. Several police agencies have used a process developed by the New York City Police Department's CompStat unit to add mapping to the mix of information that flows among agency personnel. Community police officers in Chicago use the department's Information Collection for Automated Mapping program to produce maps of crime conditions in their assigned beats and share them with residents at neighborhood beat meetings. In addition, GIS is an ideal information tool for the collaborations formed between police agencies and other agencies to address the many factors that contribute to crime and disorder. Projects include risk-focused policing, community revitalization efforts, mapping of local drug markets and treatment needs, mapping in conjunction with school-based problem solving. Probation and parole departments also use computer mapping, often in conjunction with community corrections initiatives. Other uses include electronic monitoring and police-corrections partnerships. Computer mapping will become more useful with the development of spatial statistic methods and software tools to expand the ability to interpret spatial data and identify crime hot spots. Recent trends in analytic mapping include aerial photography and geographic profiling. The National Institute of Justice has funded several of the efforts related to computer mapping. Illustrations, list of websites with information on computer mapping, and reference notes

Date Published: October 1, 1999