CommunityAlert Update

Backdated from previous BA website

Anti-social behaviour control is currently one of the Governments focus points in relation to improving our local environment. Bloomsbury has led the way by developing a unique system that depends on the community to make its concerns known to the authorities.

Crime mapping for communities

Community Alert: Internet mapping and reporting system for anti-social behaviour

Dr Andrew Hudson-Smith, Jim Murray, Sonja Curtis and Professor John Adams, University College London

Anti-social behaviour control is currently one of the Governments focus points in relation to improving our local environment. Yet information about the extent of anti-social behaviour with any degree of accuracy is hard to come by, especially in terms of geographic location. What ultimately is needed is a community led initiative, which allows simple incident reporting in terms of incident type and geographical location, it is this, which we explore in terms of Community Alert.

Community Alert is an Internet-based anti-social behaviour incident reporting system available to resident’s blocks/group, students, businesses, institutions and problem solving groups. It is a community owned and led initiative funded by the Metropolitan Police and developed by the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis, University College London and the Bloomsbury Improvement Group. The purpose of the system is simple, to allow the community to report persistent nuisances in their neighbourhoods, to map these nuisances and then allow the data to be collected in such as way that it can be inputted directly into the CRIMINT system, or passed to the local homelessness unit, which ever is appropriate.

A unique approach has been taken to the system, in that it is developed around a geographical interface extending to Ward level. To date online reporting systems are either simple text based forms or a customised GIS system. The use of online GIS is problematic for community information reporting due to both its technical and end user requirements. Its benefits only come to light after the information has been reported, for spatial analysis etc. As such a mapping system has been custom written from the ground up in Macromedia’s Flash to get around the inherent problems of online GIS while maintaining the essential geographical element. Coupling a Flash local area map, a database, incident types and text based reporting along with Ordnance Survey co-ordinates has allowed valuable data to be collected both easily and accurately.

Once data has been inputted, according to incident type and geographical location, it can be visualised at two distinct levels of detail. Firstly it can be viewed automatically on the system, allowing simple identification of the local area issues over both time and space with each incident allocated a unique icon and tagged information. Secondly, once imported into a full scale GIS, it can be used for in-house analysis by either the Police or other bodies involved in community action.

To ensure against mass or false incident reporting each submission is moderated by a central coordinator for approval. The coordinator acts a liaison between the data and the third party agencies, in our case Camden Police Community Intelligence Unit, or Camden Street Services. The system is currently being tested by over 25 bodies in the Bloomsbury Ward, this paper will provide details of the systems implementation and the outcome of the first phase of user tests

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