Geographic Information System (GIS) technology - or smart mapping - is now being used by many of the world's leading public safety and national security agencies, says Carl Walter an international law enforcement expert from geospatial giant Esri, who presents an overview of the technology to Computerworld Malaysia followed by a Q&A with Esri Malaysia's chief executive officer Lai Chee Siew on implementations in Malaysia.
Leading law enforcement agencies such as the Boston Police Department, Los Angeles Police Department, US Department of Homeland Security, the Royal Malaysian Police and other major Asian police forces are already reaping the benefits of having smart mapping capabilities, continued Walter. "However, there is still much untapped potential for strengthening local security systems."
"Whether it's devastating natural disasters, terror threats, kidnappings or vehicle theft - the mission of public safety is prevention and it is important for decision-makers to leverage advanced technologies such as GIS to develop smarter approaches to public safety," he said.
"GIS a proven technology that already underpins the planning and development of many of the world's emerging smart cities - including Singapore and Iskandar - and it continuously assists in improving the efficiency, effectiveness and impact of services and programmes under health, public safety, and national security among others.
"They've quickly moved on from putting pins on a paper wall map to using a fully integrated smart map that is made accessible to all relevant stakeholders - from tactical and criminal intelligence units to first responders and the neighbourhood police," up through national level law enforcement and intelligence agencies, he said.
"Having such capability in place enables the entire police force to leverage the city's connected infrastructure - such as CCTVs and sensors - to orchestrate their efforts and determine how best they can respond to an incident, strategically mobilise their resources, and if possible, prevent untoward incidents from happening," said Walter. "By using this technology to take a smarter approach to public safety and security, not only will agencies be able to make significant progress in reducing crime, they'll also provide communities with a greater sense of safety, security, and quality of life," Mr Walter concluded.
In the following Q&A, Esri Malaysia's chief executive officer Lai Chee Siew adds the Malaysian perspectives.
Photo - Lai Chee Siew, CEO, Esri Malaysia
Could you talk about Esri's involvement with crime fighting projects around the world and then focus on Malaysia?
From the Royal Malaysian Police to the New York Police Department (NYPD) - globally, law enforcement agencies are increasingly using Esri GIS technology to view, understand, question, interpret, and visualise data.
Whether it's investigating fraud charges, determining a suspect's whereabouts, or identifying speeding hotspots - GIS technology enables law enforcement officials to map and analyse their data to uncover connections that shed new light on a situation.
Esri Malaysia's involvement in addressing the country's crime fighting projects stemmed from the government's heightened commitment to bring down the crime index by 5 percent every year until 2020, as part of the Government Transformation Programme's (GTP) National Key Result Area (NKRA).
Esri's world-leading smart mapping technology - commonly known as Geographic Information System (GIS) technology - was identified as a key component needed to support and improve the crime fighting initiatives being undertaken by municipal councils and law enforcement agencies.
As a result, we worked together with government agencies such as the Royal Malaysian Police, Federal Department of Town and Country
Planning, and the Ministry of Housing and Local Government to develop an application called the "Safe City Monitoring System" (SCMS), which integrates crime data from the Police Reporting System with authoritative land use information.
SCMS now allows the police and other law enforcement agencies to respond to crime incidents in the most efficient way possible.
By using GIS technology to take a smarter approach to public safety, law enforcement agencies are given the capabilities to: quickly identify and visualise high-crime areas, study variables on possible causes of crime, monitor the effectiveness of crime prevention efforts, and efficiently mobilise their resources.
What are the major challenges to address in the Malaysia scenario?
Over the past couple years, we've experienced challenges in the following areas:
- Lack of GIS analysts - GIS technology now underpins hundreds of the country's major commercial organisations and government departments. As such the demand for smart mapping skills is growing and one of the biggest challenges facing the local GIS industry is having enough skilled professionals to meet this growing demand.
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