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Law enforcement and public safety

By GeoConnexion - 29th April 2013 - 15:52

Information technology plays an increasingly important role in public safety and law enforcement, and most information technology applications in this domain need to use location information from multiple sources.

The OGC is the international standards development organisation most responsible for the open standards that enable diverse systems to share geospatial information of all kinds, from simple location co-ordinates to complex analytical service queries. The OGC law enforcement and public safety (LEAPS) domain working group, which held its fourth meeting recently in Abu Dhabi, provides a focus for this important work within the OGC.

The ability to keep citizenry safe, prevent crime and protect against acts of terror depends on the ability to acquire relevant data, rapidly share appropriate data, analyse the information at hand, and make smart operational decisions. Along with proper training and equipment, being ‘armed’ with location-based situational awareness is what assures that timely safety and security measures are taken.

Geospatially enabled policing

Law enforcement, civil security and public safety applications are made up of data, networks and web services that tie together levels of command, departments, organisations, dispatch users, field mobile users and citizens with current and accurate role-based location information. Benchmarks from some urban law enforcement organisations indicate that geospatially enabled policing yields valuable improvements. For example, geospatial analysis has helped law enforcement implement ‘hot spot’ policing for over 20 years. Identifying high concentrations of crime in small geographic areas facilitates effective prevention and enforcement strategies that have been proven to reduce crime.

Progress in predictive modelling, rapid response, the integration of real-time sensor feeds, video, analytics and so forth involves a requirement for many systems, old and new, from many different vendors using a variety of data formats and encodings, to exchange geospatial information in real-time without data loss. Examples of information that needs to be accessed and integrated into workflows include: street maps, traffic flows, vehicle or sensor location coordinates, flood zones, camcorder views, live and stored aerial imagery, routes, line of sight analysis services, statistics, floor plans, and suspicious activity reports. These data differ not only in their data types and encoding systems, but also in the naming systems that users have developed to describe features, phenomena and activities. Turning seemingly disparate data into actionable intelligence through the ‘intelligence life-cycle’ of planning, direction, collection, processing/exploitation, analysis/production and dissemination thus depends on semantic correlation as well as geospatial and temporal correlation.
The challenges

Most people unfamiliar with geospatial technologies assume at first that all such information can be easily managed by systems programmed to handle latitude and longitude. When viewed at the level of detail necessary for setting up actual communication between such systems, however, the challenges are much more complicated.

Solving these difficult geospatial communication problems requires open standards. Through the work of the OGC and other standards organisations, many of the necessary data, service interface and encoding standards are available to developers. Much work remains, though, to develop profiles, application schemas and best practices based on the standards, and to harmonise standards that have been developed by different organisations. Because the OGC is not the only standards organisation or industry association working on interoperability in the area of law enforcement and public safety, it is fortunate that the LEAPS DWG has access to OGC Alliance partners like OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards) and the IJIS (Integrated Justice Information Systems) Institute.

LEAPS DWG provides a unifying forum in which local, national, regional and international law enforcement, civil security and public safety forces can work collaboratively on these issues. Open-standards compliant commercial-off-the-shelf products are rapidly evolving to leverage virtualised and mobile computing environments and provide location-based services. These interoperable geospatial technologies, when extended to fill some key gaps and applied in a holistic manner with ease of integrated use in mind, have the potential to dramatically improve law enforcement, civil security and public safety domain effectiveness and efficiency.

The OGC’s interoperability experiments, test beds and pilot projects, with guidance from a proactive domain working group, provide a practical method to bring together vendors, solutions integrators, research organisations and government sponsors to advance end-to-end capabilities and associated deployment and usage best practices. With the right mission-experienced people as active participants, standards advanced by the LEAPS DWG will ensure that future technology solutions are designed to support operational workflow and the public safety mission.
Objectives and key activities

The LEAPS DWG provides a unifying forum for local, national, regional and international law enforcement, civil security and public safety forces along with associated industry, academic and research organisations to collaboratively support the maturation of new ways to plan, think and operate with geospatial enablement. The LEAPS DWG will:

  • Establish LEAPS community business outcomes and associated key performance indicators to derive LEAPS DWG goals and progress measurements.
  • Identify LEAPS community interoperability and standards requirements, use cases, data models and related geospatial standards gaps such as:
  • The ability to distribute individual datasets and/or collections of datasets in a secure, consistent and accurate manner – inc luding the use of locations and geometries in role-based access control.
  • The ability to execute time-sensitive geodataset transfers over disadvantaged and, at times, disconnected networks to and from mobile users.
  • The ability to support temporal queries of changing geodatasets.
  • The ability to support web services and client applications involving synchronisation and updates of geospatial data across a hierarchical Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI).
  • Streamlined validation scenarios, bootstrap database creation and population, and defined query-based subscription mechanisms
  • The ability to share analytical tools and tradecraft across communities of practice.
  • Drive LEAPS domain requirements, use cases and data models into OGC testbeds and pilot initiatives.
  • Foster LEAPS domain specific collaboration between multi-national governments, industry, academia and research organisations.
  • Harmonise common geospatial practices and LEAPS mission-specific vocabularies.
  • Reach out and educate communities of users and geospatial technology providers with LEAPS domain best practices.

Standards advanced by the LEAPS DWG will ensure that future technology solutions are designed to support operational workflow and the public safety missionJennifer Harne is co-chair of the OGC law enforcement and public safety domain working group ( )

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