Our partners upload their data into ArcGIS once and make it available for everyone to analyse and share crime prevention strategies.

Making strategic use of GIS to drive cost savings

This public service partnership, comprising local councils, police and fire services, uses Esri’s ArcGIS platform to share facts about criminal activities and anti-social behaviour. With easy access to up-to-date information and improved data analysis capabilities, the partners are saving an estimated £20,000 a year, while also combatting crime more effectively.


Cheshire, Warrington and Halton Information Consortium


Case study – Public Safety


The Customer

The Cheshire, Warrington and Halton Information Consortium (CWHIC) is a public service partnership formed to deliver customer facing services across the region and promote data sharing between members. Partners include Cheshire County Council, Chester City Council, seven borough councils, Cheshire Police, and Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service.

ArcGIS analyses data from multiple sources, allowing detailed fortnightly tactical assessments to be produced more quickly and cost effectively than before

Partners save time as they no longer have to distribute their data to different parties; they simply upload it to ArcGIS once for everyone to view

The GIS solution provides new insight into crime and anti-social behaviour, which partners use to inform crime prevention and detection strategies, helping to protect citizens

The Challenge

Crime and anti-social behaviour affect agencies and groups including hospitals, councils, and police, as well as citizens. However, when one sought information from another, it could take days or weeks to arrive, and effort was sometimes duplicated, supplying the same information to different groups.

Phil Christian, a former police intelligence analyst, was seconded to Cheshire County Council to help the consortium build and implement its information strategy. He explains, “CWHIC wanted to create a central information hub to make up-to-date information more accessible to a range of different partners.”

“ Although it is a large organisation, Esri UK is always willing to engage with us on a one-to-one basis and help however it can

Phil Christian – Project Lead, seconded to Cheshire County Council

The Solution

The initial plan was a central database for sharing partners’ data. However, Christian had experience of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and recognised that most of the data had a location element. He convinced his colleagues of the advantages and added value that GIS would bring.

The consortium eventually chose a system developed by Cheshire County Council’s GIS Team, using an ArcGIS Server corporate, intranet-based system. “It is particularly intuitive to use”, says Christian. “Partners don’t need to know how functions work to be able to get value from using them. When they zoom in, ArcGIS automatically recalculates the crime totals for each different layer.”

The Community Safety Targeting Resources information hub (CO-STAR for short) was implemented in just three months, without needing specialist external consultants, though Christian values the council’s relationship with Esri UK: “Although it is a large organisation, Esri UK is always willing to engage with us on a one-to-one basis and help however it can.” CO-STAR currently includes data from the county council, police, fire and rescue service, ambulance service and four district hospitals, as well as Mosaic population profiling data and the Vulnerable Localities Index. Each partner can upload its latest data directly over the internet, minimising central data administration and ensuring that the system remains up-todate.

Partners can select data on crime, injuries and arson, for example, and layer this on a map. They can then use drop-down boxes to view incidents on a specific date, within a certain time period or by different boundaries, and either display a map of the entire region or zoom in to street level. In most instances, partners can access the information that they need in no more than four mouse clicks.

Because CO-STAR uses pre-defined problem scenarios, users see data in a consistent format, reducing the likelihood of inaccurate interpretation. “You don’t have to be an expert in GIS to be able to access and use the system”, says Christian. “It brings the power of an Esri desktop solution to those who didn’t have access to it. It’s a very powerful, but incredibly friendly tool.”

“ Now, the data analysts can use CO-STAR to do it all with a few clicks of a mouse… We estimate that we will achieve savings of £20,000 per year from this use of CO-STAR alone

Phil Christian – Project Lead, seconded to Cheshire County Council

Benefits

Partners immediately noticed time and efficiency savings: they only supply their data once, and can quickly and easily access the latest data from any of the others. This makes the fortnightly tactical assessments much easier to produce and avoids consulting numerous spreadsheets and making separate data queries. “Now, the data analysts can use COSTAR to do it all and they can find the information that they need in just a few clicks of the mouse. We estimate that we will achieve savings of £20,000 per year from this use of COSTAR alone”, explains Christian.

However, the most important advantage is the improved insight into crime. Because COSTAR holds data over five years, users can explore trends. For example, Cheshire Police used CO-STAR to monitor patterns of criminal damage, crime and arson on bonfire night. By analysing at street level, over five years, it identified potential trouble spots and planned its policing strategy accordingly.

CO-STAR has also been used to identify areas with high vehicle crime where “decoy” cars can be placed. These have visible sat-navs to attract thieves, hidden cameras to film them, and ‘Smartwater’ technology, to spray invisible ultra-violet ink that has a unique DNA-like reference linked to the specific crime. CO-STAR is then used to analyse the success of such tactics.

Similarly, Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service uses CO-STAR to help partners identify communities most at risk from arson. Data from the last five years is layered with Mosaic data to highlight areas at risk. Partnerships then plan targeted prevention and educational programmes.

“ We want to continue to build the solution and add more features, data and layers over time. Our goal is for CO-STAR to become an embedded product that is used extensively in the Cheshire, Warrington and Halton area

Phil Christian – Project Lead, seconded to Cheshire County Council

The Future

CWHIC plans to increase the number of partners and data sets, making CO-STAR available to a larger user community. It also intends to extend the supported output formats, so users can export maps to PDF. Christian concludes: “We want to continue to build the solution and add more features, data and layers over time. Our goal is for CO-STAR to become an embedded product that is used extensively in the Cheshire, Warrington and Halton areas.”

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