Business challenge

The Durham Police Department needed to determine where most crime was taking place to proactively engage with the community and increase public safety.  


IBM i2 iBase and IBM i2 Analyst’s Notebook software help the Durham Police Department discover patterns of illegal activity to better understand crime trends and focus efforts on deterring crime.


50 percent reduction in crime

in a two square mile region of the city during a four-year span

10 million records

imported and stored from almost 150 source systems

Tracking offenders and crime patterns

helps police understand trends and focus on deterring crime

Business challenge story

Targeting higher crime areas and finding offenders on a limited budget

Every city has a crime hotspot. The challenge for most law-enforcement agencies is predicting where criminal activity is most likely to occur so that they can deploy police officers in an optimal manner, maintain a presence in troubled neighborhoods and potentially thwart or reduce criminal activity.

Such was the case in Durham, North Carolina. Its police force, the Durham Police Department, often dealt with crime in a reactive manner, with officers waiting for calls for help and then responding accordingly. What’s more, it worked against a backdrop of budget cuts and limited police and investigative resources, making it that much more difficult to stay a step ahead of criminals. The department knew that winning the fight against crime meant going beyond traditional policing practices and finding a more targeted way to pursue and convict offenders.

To this end, in 2007, the department set out to identify where in the city crime rates were particularly high. Focusing on gun crime, analysts reviewed telephone records to determine the source of any reports of gunfire. What they found was that roughly 20 percent of all shots-fired calls came from just two percent of the city’s entire land area of 95 square miles. Next, when scouring crime databases for violent crimes committed with firearms, analysts found that a disproportionate level of activity was occurring in nearly the same region of the city. Finally, to gain an understanding of who might be committing these crimes, the department pulled up the last known addresses of validated gang members and discovered that most were located within this same neighborhood. The city found its crime hotspot: a two square mile area in East Durham.

Having identified the greatest density of crime in Durham, the Durham Police Department launched Operation Bull’s Eye, an initiative that brought together law-enforcement, city and county agencies and community stakeholders to reduce gun violence. Success, however, depended on the department’s ability to transform the vast amounts of information it already housed - such as known gang members and their associates, incidents of violent crime, illicit-activity reports and countless other data points - into actionable intelligence. Analysts, who spent too much time cleaning data instead of analyzing it, had no easy way to identify hidden patterns and trends that would allow them to link individuals with activities and crimes. To help its crime analysts rapidly piece together disparate data, drive more targeted police action and ultimately help win the fight against crime, the department called in for help.

Transformation story

Targeting higher crime areas and finding offenders on a limited budget

To fight rising crime, law-enforcement agencies with limited budgets and resources need to police smarter, not harder. To stay a step ahead of offenders, the Durham Police Department deployed a sophisticated crime-management system that helps it analyze and visualize disparate crime data, thereby uncovering hidden patterns and trends and identifying hotspots where crimes are likely to occur. Using advanced geographic information system (GIS) mapping technology combined with spatial, temporal and link analyses, the system also helps make sense of location-related and disparate crime data. By tracking and mapping offenders and their activities over time, police can better understand crime trends and proactively focus their efforts according to actual need to deter crime.

The Durham Police Department turned to IBM and IBM Premier Business Partner Esri to build an intelligent crime-management solution based on IBM i2 iBase and IBM i2 Analyst's Notebook - Esri Edition software. The i2 iBase technology is an intuitive database application designed to help analysts gather, structure and analyze multisource data in a single, shared working environment. Each night, the software automatically imports data from a variety of sources - from arrest and incident reports to telephone records and field interviews - into a centralized repository, where the technology models it into a common format. When analysts start work in the morning, the information is consolidated and ready for them to work with. Plus, because the application automates most of the data-preparation work, analysts have more time to dedicate to actual analysis.

Today, the department stores approximately 10 million records in its i2 iBase software database, imported from nearly 150 source systems. IBM i2 Analyst’s Notebook - Esri Edition technology provides sophisticated analytical and visualization tools to help analysts uncover and identify networks, patterns and trends in structured and unstructured data that analysts may otherwise have missed. It also includes social network analysis capabilities that deliver increased understanding of social relationships and structures within criminal networks. The software facilitates connection with ArcGIS server technology from IBM Premier Business Partner Esri, thereby integrating geographic information system (GIS) mapping technology with geospatial, temporal and link analyses capabilities.

From the centralized environment, analysts can select a preferred server base map, discover and develop dynamic layers, run geospatial querying, view charts as dynamic Esri map layers, synchronize chart and map views and more. The platform helps integrate data from the department’s records-management system, jail-management system, computer-aided dispatch system, probation and parole system, automated fingerprint identification system, citations system, gang system and others.

Durham Police Department

The Durham Police Department in North Carolina is a full-service organization committed to protecting and safeguarding the lives and property of the city’s nearly 235,000 residents. With a jurisdiction area covering roughly 95 square miles, the department carries out its core functions of law enforcement and investigation through five operational bureaus: Uniform Patrol, Investigative Services, Administrative Services, Community Services and Office of the Chief. It employs approximately 510 sworn officers and 120 civilians.

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