Less than six months after launching a brand-new city mapping system that overlays police-department data with other city data, a team of city analysts has won a national award for innovation.
The team, made up of staffers from the Philadelphia Police Department and the Managing Director's Office, learned last week that it was selected for a Special Achievement in GIS [Geographic Information Systems] award given annually by international GIS firm Esri.
The city's team was selected for the award by Esri staff, and is one of less than 100 nominees of more than 100,000 that won.
"The application that we won for was the police department's mapping an analysis application," Ervin said. "What makes this rare for the city is that this was developed by the people at the police department and in the GIS group. It wasn't like a vendor came in."
The group launched the GIS mapping system Jan. 1. Ervin said that for the first time, the new system is not only putting the whole police department on the same page, but also allowing for other data to be analyzed simultaneously along with crime data.
In addition to citywide crime data, the maps have statistics from other city and state departments, including Licenses and Inspections, Streets, State Probation and Parole, prisons and the court system. Data on education, employment, hospitals and housing is also available within the system.
Ervin said being able to simultaneously look at crime statistics and other city data will help coordination between the police and the rest of the city.
"So if you want to see where vacant properties are in relation to drug crimes and stuff like that, and maybe proactively reach out to L&I and say, 'Hey, can you board that up for us?'" Ervin said, giving an example of a practical application of the mapping software.
Ervin praised his team members – Lynn Gaines, Anthony D'Abruzzo and Michael Urciuoli from the police department and Paul Woodruff from the Managing Director's Office – for their work on the mapping system.
"It's not just that group, but the guy that keeps the servers running all the way to the guy in the field who gives us the feedback that enhances the application and everything like that," Ervin said. "It's a team effort."
They'll be presented the award at Esri's International User Conference in San Diego July 8, making their model one for other cities and police departments across the country to follow, Ervin said.
Ervin said he was thrilled the team received an award so early on in the process.
"We just started. We're like 10 percent of the way," he said. "This has only been live for like five months, so it's just crazy."