x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Locations database to boost police response

Abu Dhabi Police plan a geographic database to provide comprehensive, immediate data on crime, traffic accidents and demographics for use by the public.

ABU DHABI // Abu Dhabi Police are planning a geographic database to provide comprehensive, immediate data on crime, traffic accidents and demographics for use by the public and other government agencies. The police department is one of 17 government agencies involved in the Abu Dhabi Spatial Data Infrastructure initiative. The others include the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi, the Education Council, the Health Authority, Etisalat and Abu Dhabi National Oil Company.

Government functions such as city planning, crisis control, critical infrastructure management and environmental research would benefit from geographic information systems (GIS), said officials of the Abu Dhabi Systems and Information Committee, which is managing the project. Most of the participating agencies, including the police, are taking part in a two-day exhibition on GIS that started yesterday. GIS Day has been held annually in 70 countries for the past decade during Geography Awareness Week.

Abu Dhabi Police signed an agreement last week with Experts Computer Consulting to plan for a GIS, which would help analyse crime patterns and provide critical information in emergencies. "Basically, GIS adds the concept of location on anything," said Mohammed al Dada, the general manager of Experts Computer Consulting. "If you want to find out what happened in a certain place, you need GIS. If you want to find out where is the concentration of crime, where is the concentration of traffic accidents and where are the accidents occurring at a specific time, you need GIS.

"The GIS adds a lot of information that helps them plan and mitigate danger in a way that nothing else can do." Mr Dada gave the example of a fire. Using the GIS software, fire officials would be able to determine the locations of dangerous or vulnerable places nearby, such as petrol stations or schools. He said a police GIS system could also locate fire engines and police cars, and determine the fastest way of sending them to the fire.

About 80 per cent of the larger, emirate-wide GIS system has already been implemented and is available for use by government agencies, said Abdul Karim Raeisi, GIS manager for Abu Dhabi Systems and Information Committee. The system is to be made available for use by the general public on the committee's website once the committee has compiled the required data. Information will be divided into two security classifications, Mr Raeisi said. The first would comprise declassified information that the general public and other institutions could use. The second grouping, of more sensitive information, would require authorisation for government users.

GIS technology has been widely used in the US for crisis response and planning functions, said Henry Garie, one of the presenters at the exhibition and a senior manager at Grant Thornton, a corporate advisory company. "Location really can serve as the glue that ties things together," said Mr Garie, who is not associated with Abu Dhabi's GIS initiative. "I think that what we're promoting is the concept of organisations coming together and leveraging their resources. So if you were going to invest in aerial photography, you might only want to do that once and have the right organisation be the steward of that data and share it with others."

mbradley@thenational.ae