Motorola Solutions, the Schaumburg, Ill.-based telecommunications company, and Socrata, the Seattle digital government startup, are partnering to improve Motorola’s crime reporting software to rebuild public trust in law enforcement agencies.
Across the board, Americans are losing trust in the police — public confidence in police was the lowest it’s been in more than 20 years, according to a Gallup Poll conducted last summer.
To improve public and media perception of law enforcement, Motorola is working with Socrata on a digital platform to allow police to proactively share local crime information and to explain agency operations, according to its website. The interactive map and data analytics tool allows citizens to see where and when crimes have been committed in specific neighborhoods, and allows police to explain how they are reacting to crimes.
“We recognize that police departments across the country are eager to share their information as a crucial step toward building trust and productive dialogue with their communities,” said Socrata CEO Kevin Merritt in a press release. “Socrata and Motorola Solutions have partnered to provide a…solution that enables citizens to find answers to the questions they have more quickly, intuitively and with much-needed context.”
Socrata worked with Motorola to redesign the company’s existing digital platform, called CrimeReports. The online mapping software already was used by 1,100 law enforcement agencies worldwide as a way to show crime information, Motorola said in a news release. The police who use CrimeReports serve more than 100 million people, but the police were having trouble engaging citizens.
The redesign of CrimeReports now allows citizens to view crime data in multiple formats, including maps, graphs, and charts.
They can also segment data by where crimes were committed, when they were committed, and types of crimes. Citizens also can use the digital platform to report crimes anonymously, to set alerts for new crimes within their areas of interest, to get notifications from law enforcement about major events or safety concerns near them, and to share crime data with others online, particularly via social media.
“Law enforcement agencies across the country are realizing that by engaging citizens and empowering them with information, they can be additional eyes and ears to help provide tips, witness accounts, testify and potentially reduce crime,” said Tom Guthrie, Motorola’s VP for smart public safety in a statement. “Through Motorola Solutions’ partnership with Socrata, CrimeReports will deliver more insights to the public, which will in-turn help agencies build trust with citizens, leading to increased engagement and less time responding to Freedom of Information Act requests.”
It is worth noting that last year marked a record high of 769,903 Freedom of Information Act requests that had to be processed, according a report from the Department of Justice that came out last week, a figure which does not include FOIA request backlog.
In response to increased citizen interest in police activities, Motorola and Socrata also added in data to CrimeReports that shows “9-1-1 calls-for-service” so that citizens can see how police resources are being allocated. They also put in a feature law enforcement agencies can provide narratives and context to CrimeReport data to explain to citizens what is happening in their neighborhoods and how they are approaching the situations in hopes that greater transparency will improve police-citizen relations.