Service Recognized for Use of Map Tech

By Ron Fanfair, Toronto Police Service Published: 6 a.m. March 11, 2020
Updated: 1:45 p.m. March 12, 2020

For the second straight year, the Toronto Police Service (TPS) has been recognized as a leader in Geospatial Maturity Index in North America for the development of their Geographic Information System (GIS) programs.

A group of people standing at a TPS podium
The Analytics & Innovation team was presented with their award by Public Sector Digest Editor in Chief Tyler Sutton, centre right

The Service finished second behind the City of Calgary in the Public Sector Digest (PSD) annual survey open to North American public sector organizations.

TPS’s overall score was 94.7 per cent in the Public Sector Digest (PSD) annual survey open to North American public sector organizations.

A total of 127 organizations participated in the 2019 Geospatial Maturity Index survey, including police services, municipalities, school boards and conservation authorities.

The GMI is designed to benchmark the maturity of an organization’s GIS program including key categories of readiness, implementation and impact.

Tyler Sutton, PSD Editor in Chief, said Toronto improved in all categories:

“It’s rare, certainly there is improvement in other police services across Canada, but by far we are seeing the most maturity with the Toronto Police Service. We’re seeing more interest. We’ve had more police services responding to our survey than ever before,” said Sutton, noting a healthy GIS program is important to policing on a variety of levels.

“When you talk about a police service, it’s better communication, response planning and adding a layer of reliability for confidence in the decisions you are making and the planning you are doing as an organization.”

GIS programs can help improve organizational decision-making, enhance service delivery and increase government transparency.

Ian Williams, the Service’s Head of Analytics and Innovation since June 2018, said the survey is meticulous.

“In looking at how organizations like ours operate, they compare what staffing looks like,” he said. “Is it permanent or contract staffing? What is your level of use of that technology? From desktop mapping to an enterprise solution that manages servers, a series of web-mapping applications, and public facing open data solutions. We have a team responsible for development of custom apps, we do public facing open data through our Public Safety Data Portal and desktop GIS analysis.

“In addition to that, we have a governance program surrounding this technology use which is robust as well and continuously improving. So as the technology is changing, the Service is adopting newer versions of that technology that’s continuously improving our approach to implementing new applications or providing more information publicly as well.”

I think there is a lot of opportunity in this space to create tools that are available not only with information that’s virtually in real-time, but also on a mobile device to support the connected officers

The Service has been utilizing GIS technology for several years. 

An enterprise solution was added two years ago with the enterprise geospatial environment – BI 360 – that includes desktop GIS, geodatabases, geocoding, internal/public apps and its internationally recognized Public Safety Data Portal, where anyone can download open data or use a variety of charts and maps to understand the public safety picture of the city.

“Since that point, we really expanded our use from having analysts who are subject matter experts in the use of GIS in being able to provide mapping tools to do analysis for frontline divisions and for corporate use,” he said. “Some of the work we have done on the public safety data portal falls into this space as well.”

With all the advancements, Williams believes the Service is touching on the potential of this technology.

“Going forward, we will look to explore more real-time applications,” he said. “We are talking about tools that are going to be available to frontline officers and other operational teams. I think there is a lot of opportunity in this space to create tools that are available not only with information that’s virtually in real-time, but also on a mobile device to support the connected officers.”

The Service is continuously evolving its use of geospatial technology and will continue to integrate with important public safety processes.

To learn more and view Toronto Police maps and data, visit data.tps.on.ca

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