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Saturday, March 26, 2016

Comparative Use of Law Enforcement Application of GIS Technology in Four Countries: the United States, England, India, and Canada

This summary paper will highlight the major attributes of police use of GIS technology in four countries; the United States, England, India, and Canada. The characteristics for each country that this paper examines are the following:
  • Technological development in these regions.
  • Existent GIS systems
  • Uses of GIS systems beyond law enforcement applications
  • The effect that the 9/11 attacks had on public safety measures
  • A brief overview of law enforcement
  • The future of law enforcement

  1. The United States
    1. Technology advances in the United States have been almost been as rapidly integrated into law enforcement techniques as they have been developed into public use. The Johnson administrations commitment to use Federal resources to assists local agencies in using new technology. GIS systems have been part of the American heritage to adapt to new technology.” Law enforcement officers and civilian crime analysts have been mapping crime virtually since
the time that police agencies were established--through the use of push pins and a paper map.
The diffusion of GIS into crime analysis has been a slow process primarily because of cost (both hardware and software) and complexity” (Groff & La Vigne, 1998, p. 2) “In the early 1980s, client server technology made geographic information systems more accessible, and this enabled a number of police departments to experiment with crime mapping in their everyday work” (Santos, 2013, p. 11).
    1. The United States criminal justice system is a federal system with many different jurisdictions that use different GIS applications. Leipnik & Albert discuss several case studies from across the country in their book, GIS in Law Enforcement: Implementation Issues and Case Studies.
    2. GIS systems can be used for many applications beyond policing. Missing children, public health monitoring, and disaster response are just three examples of GIS application. Such uses have included the search for debris from the space shuttle Columbia disaster in 2003 (Allen, 2015).
    3. In the reorganization and reaffirmation of the American security community in response to the 9/11 attacks, the Department of Homeland Security recognized the key part technology plays in securing the nation. GIS capabilities are included in this vision, as the “DHS Office of Grants and Training recognizes the important contribution that geospatial information and technology plays in strengthening our Nation’s security posture” (“FY 2007 Homeland Security”, 2007, p. 1).
    4. Law enforcement in the United States, as stated, is multi-jurisdictional in nature. The two major considerations in the American criminal justice system are protecting the community and adhering to due process considerations. American policing has been at the forefront of research in underlying crimogenic causes, procedural policing, and technological assistance to law enforcement since the days of Vollmer.
    5. It is in the technological field that he future of policing lies, as “In this technological era, law enforcement has had to evolve to fulfill its mandate of contributing to overall public security” (Grant & Terry, 2005, p. 324).

  1. England
    1. Although England may not have the wide technological base as the United States to draw upon, the basic techniques of crime mapping were being studied in England as early as the 1850's (Canter, 2000, p.3)
    2. England has implemented GIS systems rapidly. In 1999, 44% of English police stations had crime mapping facilities (Griffin, 2001, p.11). By 2005, 90% of police units in England used GIS applications fro law enforcement purposes (Weir & Bangs, 2007, p. 3).
    3. One way in which the English have used GIS systems outside of law enforcement is in highway planning, and is “presently using GIS information largely around highlighting areas in need of improvement” (Merritt, 2015, para. 6).
    4. 9/11 played a part in the development of London's “Ring of Steel”; however, it has been seen that GIS/CCTV systems can not prevent terror attacks simply by being in place.
    5. Law enforcement in the United Kingdom is based upon Peelian Principles (Boyd & Skelton, 2012, p. 6). A major difference between American police and English police is that Americans swear their oath of office to defend the Constitution while English officers swear loyalty to the Crown
    6. According to Boyd and Skelton (2012, p. 48), the following priorities are crucial to the future of English policing:
      1. A relentless focus on the prevention of crime and disorder
      2. Policing to be delivered locally
      3. The public to be encouraged to play a full part in the fight against crime
      4. Outcome-oriented PCCs who are fully engaged with their policing partners

  1. India
    1. Although India is an underdeveloped nation, it has a large demographic base which includes technological savvy. “India has long been a leader in using modern spatial technologies and started its tryst with satellite images and GIS in the 1980s “ (“India: A vision”, 2013, para. 1)
    2. Griffin questioned the ability of police in Bombay to be able to access such systems for police work (2001, p. 2). However, several Indian municipalities have implemented GIS systems. “The plan to introduce GIS/GPS in Mumbai police was mooted in 2000.” (“Be prepared for”. 2006, p.3) and “officials of the special branch...are being trained in this technology. (“Kerala police plan”, 2010, para. 3).
    3. GIS systems are not in use commonly throughout India, in “spite of the wide usage of GIS as a technology, the potential of GIS has not yet been fully exploited for decision support by planners, stakeholders, decision makers, (“India: A vision”, 2013, para. 6)
    4. In contrast to the United States, India has long been a target of Islamist terror. A short list of attacks includes the 1993 Bombay bombing, a series of kidnappings in 1994 and 1995, the 1998 massacres in Chamba and Prankote, and the 2001 Chalwalkote massacre. India has retained it's anti-terror policy.
    5. Like the United States, India is a federal governmental system, resulting in many jurisdictions. A major difference is that senior police officials in many different police agencies all belong to the Indian Police Service, a centralized agency.
    6. Police in India must overcome political interference before moving to procedural or technological goals. There are “many instances where the statutory duties of the police have
been interfered with by the political players” (Dutta & Baruah, 2008, p.122)

  1. Canada
    1. Canada has the lowest population of the four countries to draw upon for resources, but a common language and common border with the United States provides Canada and it's police forces with convenient access to technological services.
    2. Several major cities in Canada use GIS systems Vancouver PD uses GIS application for their Intelligence Led Policing project (“Vancouver police focuses”, 2011, para. 1). The Toronto Police Service was an “early adopter of geographic information system technology” in the 1990's, (Marshall, 2008, para. 1).
    3. Canada also uses GIS applications for other than police work. For example, “the Department used GIS to support pre-planning activities and actual operations during the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games (“Vancouver police focuses, 2011, para. 3).
    4. The attacks on 9/11 bought a higher focus on security for the United States/Canada border (Kislenko, 2012, p. 310).
    5. Canada, like the United States and India, uses a federal governing system, with police agencies at each level and local jurisdictions.
    6. Canadian police must look forward to an era of “increasingly scarce public resources”, and must become more efficient to mitigate that lack of resources (Di Matteo, 2014, p. 2).


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