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Introduction to GIS



 - What Is a GIS?

         A geographic information system (GIS) is a computer-based tool for mapping and analyzing things that
         exist and events that happen on earth. GIS technology integrates common database operations such as
         query and statistical analysis with the unique visualization and geographic analysis benefits offered by
         maps. These abilities distinguish GIS from other information systems and make it valuable to a wide
         range of public and private enterprises for explaining events, predicting outcomes, and planning

  - How GIS Works

         A GIS stores information about the world as a collection of thematic layers that can be linked together by



GIS in disaster management



 - Role of GIS

         Disasters are usually spatial events (floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, wildfires, hazardous spills, public
         unrest, famine, epidemics, and so forth). Mapping and information acquisition is vital for disaster
         management. GIS supports all aspects of disaster management.

         GIS is essential to effective preparedness, communication, and training tool for disaster management.
         Disaster management requires response, incident mapping, establishing priorities, developing action
         plans, and implementing the plan to protect lives, property, and the environment. GIS allows disaster
         managers to quickly access and visually display critical information by location. This information facilitates
         the development of action plans that are printed or transmitted to disaster response personnel for the
         coordination and implementation of emergency efforts.

 - GIS in Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice

         The distribution of crime across the landscape is not geographically random since crimes are human
         phenomena . For crimes to occur, offenders and their targets - the victims and/or property - must exist at
         the same location for a period of time. Several factors, including the lure of potential targets and simple
         geographic convenience for an offender, influence where people choose to break the law. Therefore,
         geography plays an important role in law enforcement and criminal justice.

         Investigators might use complex maps to observe trends in criminal activity, and maps may prove
         invaluable in solving criminal cases. For example, they may use maps to better understand the hunting
         patterns of serial criminals and to hypothesize where these offenders might live. Some of the most helpful
         maps for those persons who investigate crimes simply indicate where incidents have occurred. Prior to
         recent technological advances, they typically placed pushpins in wall maps to examine the spatial
         distribution of crime locations. However, modern GIS software allows them to produce more versatile
         electronic maps by combining their databases of reported crime locations with digitized maps.

         GIS in law enforcement and criminal justice means crime analysis via crime mapping electrically. It
         provides a valuable spatial element to link analysis and crime analysis tools.  Prosecutors use GIS to map
         filing locations and workloads and determine geographic areas of responsibility. It also enables them to
         provide interactive mapping presentations, including photographs, video, fingerprints, and documents, to
         dramatically improve case preparation and presentation. For investigators, GIS displays criminal intelligence
         and crime analysis information graphically with both mapping and link analysis capability.

         Because incident data can be organized by geography (location of the crime) in addition to offender name,
         time of day, and type of crime, it can be displayed in a GIS.  GIS will allow users to find the data for a
         certain time frame and area and display it on a map. The map can include nearby landmarks like streets and
         schools, and different colors and symbols can be used for different crime categories, painting a real picture
         of the data and making it easier to interpret.  After depicting incident data on a map, users can conduct further
         geographic analysis and generate reports summarizing events.

         GIS can also be used to calculate crime density values, such as the number of crimes per square mile. These
         density values can be used to create a choropleth map. Density maps offer a broader look at where crimes
         occur without investigators having to interpret a large number of individual locations.

         Presenting crime information graphically provides a powerful decision making tool for investigators since it
         provides a new perspective, and trends and patterns become more apparent. The visual format shows
         relationships and patterns that are buried in the data. GIS is a vital tool that will help investigators better
         understand the region they are responsible for and the crime they are having so that informed decisions can be

 -  Useful documents for GIS crime mapping

         Mapping Crime: Principle and Practice

         This NIJ Research Report introduces the science of crime mapping, visualizing crime data through the
         medium of maps. The report presents how GIS are used to analyze crime problems. Must for detailed study
         for GIS crime mapping.

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         Mapping Out Crime: Providing 21st Century Tools for Safe Communities

         The U.S. Department of Justice in conjunction with the National Partnership for Reinventing Government
         has released the report of the Task Force on Crime Mapping and Data-Driven Management.

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        Computerized Crime Mapping

         Articles include a discussion of crime mapping by NIJ Director Jeremy Travis, and a report on President
         Gore's announcement of a $93 million dollar grant to help law enforcement with their technology needs.

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 -  GIS developed by U.S. Department of Justice, available to public

         The GIS Staff was formed in 1994 in order to provide mapping services to Criminal Division attorneys
         and to provide spatial analysis of resource allocation for administrative planning. Criminal Division
         attorneys use the maps to show the court where the alleged crime(s) took place. The maps also help explain
         some of the circumstances that may have contributed to the crime(s). The maps are made using geographic
         data and/or high-resolution aerial photographs and may include an assortment of annotation and crime
         scene photographs. The GIS Staff has also developed several law enforcement GIS applications for
         attorneys and for police departments.

         The GIS Staff developed the Spatial Crime Analysis System (SCAS). The SCAS is designed to serve as a
         both a strategic and tactical tool for crime analysts, police officers, and managers in police departments. The
         SCAS allows police departments to analyze crime spatially and temporally, identify crime trends, and
         identify crime hot spots. The SCAS allows the user to produce maps, tabular reports, and histograms. The
         GIS Staff is currently developing a new crime analysis system called RCAGIS (Regional Crime Analysis GIS).

         The Spatial Crime Analysis System (SCAS)

         The Spatial Crime Analysis System (SCAS) is an ArcView-based GIS application designed to allow police
         departments to perform sophisticated spatial analysis and mapping of their incident-based crime data.

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         The Regional Crime Analysis GIS (RCAGIS)

         The RCAGIS Crime Analysis System was designed specifically to assist in the analysis of crime incident
         data across jurisdictional boundaries.

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 - Examples of GIS in disaster management

         Philadelphia Police Go Online to Fight Crime

         The Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) developed a stolen vehicle tracking application that enables
         officers to see the location of recovered vehicles in relation to the area in which they were stolen.

         The crime analysis unit has begun to use ArcView Spatial Analyst to observe crime densities. This
         application  proved particularly useful in breaking a large drug enforcement case. Street maps showing
         building footprints and crime densities have enabled the PPD to do more effective planning in the operation.

         The generic incident mapping application they designed will enable officers to define a series of parameters
         on a form, submit the request, and have a map of incidents returned. Identification requests will return
         multiple incidents and show related arrest information.

         Officers will be able to access several reports including summaries of activity for a user-specified period,
         lists of incidents occurring at a single address, and charts analyzing day-of-week and time-of-day
         relationships for aggravated assaults and robberies. Another benefit of the Intranet-based applications will
         be the team's ability to turn around late-breaking information immediately.

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          ArcView GIS Supports Crime Analysis in Karachi, Pakistan

         The Citizen's Police Liaison Committee (CPLC) has recognized that crime in Karachi has a spatial
          component. By applying GIS, crime can be geolocated (usually by street address) to reveal significant
          trends, patterns, and relationships. This supports crime analysis, enforcement planning, and more effective
          resource allocation.

         But in an extensive, unplanned city like Karachi, the street addressing system is confusing or nonexistent.
         This presents a major problem for law enforcement agencies that respond to incidents. Often, the only
         means of navigation is by local knowledge or landmarks known to the authorities and general populace.

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         MAD GIS Helps Visualize Natural Hazard Risks

         The Metro Area Disaster Geographic Information System (MAD GIS) is designed to assist certain local
         governments in Oregon to prepare for, and respond to disasters

         MAD GIS can be used in many ways.  It can help identify zones for new construction that need
         site-specific hazard investigations. It can create maps and inform the development of risk-based standard
         operating procedures for assessing damage along regional emergency transportation routes. MAD GIS also
         can help prioritize preventative and early recovery strategies for vital systems such as electricity, gas, and
         water that cross jurisdictional boundaries.

         Using MapObjects software's rich set of developer objects, MAD GIS can be used to show where schools
         are located in relation to earthquake hazards or where hazardous materials sites are located in relation to
         landslide hazards and floodplains.

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          Pennsylvania Protects Its Air, Land, and Water with GIS

          The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is responsible for protecting
          Pennsylvania's air, land, and water from pollution and for providing for the health and safety of more
          than 12 million citizens.

          The Pennsylvania DEP Facility Analysis System (PFAS)  maintains the functionality of the DEP's existing
          database infrastructure and custom applications while creating entirely new methods of viewing and
          analyzing the data.

          The system was developed to provide customized spatial and tabular query, location, and reporting functions
          over a standard Intranet connection via a browser. It allows all staff members (such as secretaries
          and permit reviewers) personal computer access to view and generate reports for permitting subfacilities
          within the State.  And it provides the same information to the public via the Internet.

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         CATS for Emergency Response

         Consequences Assessment Tool Set (CATS) software provides powerful disaster analysis in real time with a
         rich set of information integrated from a number of sources.

         In case of bioterrorist attacks,  CATS helps people to accurately assess the immediate risks to the population
         as well as to predict the likely spread of the biologic agent, track where the attack took place, who is affected,
         how the attack might be spreading, and how to reduce exposure to populations as fast as possible.  CATS
         manages  a wealth of information in an unprecedented manner by coupling real-time wind speed and direction
         data off the Web with ArcView GIS and the ArcView Spatial Analyst extension supplying powerful data
         integration, analysis, and visualization tools.

         Utilizing ArcView GIS and ArcView Spatial Analyst, CATS comes with a wide range of georeferenced land,
         demographic, and infrastructure information accessed via the Internet from a number of diverse database
         sources. Information on schools, hospitals, telecommunications assets, roads and highways, utility
         infrastructure, population information, and more is accessible with CATS.

         For the Fire Department, CATS allows users to model events such as explosions, toxic releases, or other
         emergency situations. Users can analyze how those events affect surrounding people and how to best respond
         to these events.

         Law enforcement officials can use the software for crowd control, area closure, investigative response, and
         other law enforcement tasks. The mapping element gives users the ability to use data visualization as a decision
         making tool and to easily share this data among cooperating agencies.

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         Humanitarian Aid for Kosovo Guided by GIS

         In response to reports of deaths from malnutrition and starvation among the  Kosovo refugees, a program of
         humanitarian airdrops was initiated by the New York-based International Rescue Committee. This program
         was funded by the United States Agency for International Development's Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster
         Assistance (USAID/OFDA).

         The function of GIS in this operation was the production of highly customized mapping of each flight plan
         and target zone for the air crews. The crews were given a new map each day showing details such as the cargo
         weight, the drop coordinates, the call sign, and radio frequencies for the day, as well as the precise route and
         locations of emergency landing sites. GIS was also used to map and monitor the amount of aid that had been
         dropped.  The map showed which areas had been targeted and which had not received aid in the last few days.

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          Saving the Salton Sea

          The Salton Sea is dying because of its high salinity. The Salton Sea Authority intiated the project of reducing
          salinity in the Salton Sea to ocean level by constructing dikes and concentration ponds to trap salts and pump
          saline water out to nearby dry lake beds.

          GIS is used to create and run models in order to generate a map showing the most suitable areas to construct
          a pipeline.  The intermediate maps are weighted by how much they contribute to the cost of construction, and
          then the maps are combined.  The final result is a suitability map, which shows the most suitable areas for
          construction of the desalinization pipelines, given the input data and constraints.  Then the suitability map is
          converted into a least-cost path map, which shows the paths with the lowest construction costs.

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