City of Shawnee opens law enforcement data by mapping CAD calls and police criminal incidents

What is your local law enforcement working on this very minute?  What were those 3 police vehicles doing at that intersection?  What’s that traffic stop all about?  These questions might be unanswerable for most people, outside of a phone call to the police department.  But in Shawnee, OK, citizens can find out exactly what’s going on with their local law enforcement . . . using their iPhones.

It’s a concrete example of open data at the municipal level.  Shawnee is publishing a variety of maps to their citizens through the YouTown platform, and among these are Police Criminal Incidents and Computer-Aided-Dispatch (CAD) calls.  The incidents appear as individual pinpoints on a Google map within the app.  Residents can view the most recent activity of law enforcement in Shawnee, which could alert them to possible danger in their area (drunk drivers, burglary, etc.)  Further, it sheds light on the moment-by-moment workings of the police department, fostering transparency and accountability -- perhaps even a spirit of camaraderie -- between citizens and law enforcement.

On the Shawnee maps, CAD calls refresh every 30 minutes.  Residents can view recent calls about traffic stops, noise complaints, reckless drivers, and even paperwork stops made by officers.  Clicking on a specific call provides details like the call number, time the call was received, location, and priority.

The Police Criminal Incidents map displays the last 99 occurrences, such as burglaries, violations of protective orders, information reports, public drunks, and etc.  Further information includes date, time, location, and whether the incident is open or closed.

This information is totally open to public view -- an outstanding example of a city striving for openness and connection with citizens.  It’s a particularly healthy way to foster transparent government since it deals with law enforcement, a department often subject to criticism, misunderstanding, or distrust.  Stephen Nolen, CIO for the City of Shawnee, explains how he accomplished the 911 integration, and how other cities can do the same, in this article.

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