Top Technology for LEA Operators in 2018. Geospatial & Social Media Analytics Top the List

02, 2018

Source Image:  Dallas Observer Danny Fulgencio.  Join our LinkedIn Group,, for access to other articles.
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The following excerpt is from :RTI International Police Executive Research Forum project posted at:

Key Findings

The following sections summarize key findings from the study and their implications.

Technology prevalence. Today’s state and local LEAs are heavily involved in technology.

Ninety-six percent had implemented one or more of the 18 core technologies of interest, most commonly car cameras (70% of agencies), information-sharing platforms (68%), and social media (68%). One-third of agencies had body-worn cameras (BWCs), geographic information system technology (GIS), cell phone tracking software, or investigative casemanagement software. Notable among large agencies (250 or more sworn officers) was the prevalence of analytical and visual-based technology. About 81% of large agencies reported using GIS (compared with 31% overall) and 70% were using license plate readers (LPRs; compared with 20% overall). Use of predictive analytics software was reported by 28% of large agencies.

Technologies expected to increase in use. Results demonstrate that technology use is expected to increase not only among the largest agencies but across most U.S. LEAs. The technologies expected to increase most sharply were predictive analytics software (15% of all agencies and 22% of large agencies have plans to obtain and use within 2 years), BWCs (15% and 17%, respectively), and in-car electronic ticketing (11% and 38%, respectively).

Also notable were the intentions to acquire next-generation 9-1-1 (14% and 11%, respectively) or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, or drones) (7% and 9%, respectively). Links between policing strategies and technological adoption. Nationally, we found little relationship between the policing strategies that agencies most closely adhere to and the number of technologies used. The exception was zero-tolerance policing; greater emphasis on zero-tolerance was associated with less technology use. However, among large agencies (250 or more officers), there were stronger connections between strategy and technology adoption. Agencies aligned most closely with community policing, intelligenceled policing, or hot-spot policing philosophies implemented and used more technology. In contrast, agencies that emphasized professional policing, problem-oriented policing, or zerotolerance policing implemented and used less technology.

Policing activities and strategies and technology selection. Nationally, LEAs are generally not making technology decisions based on their dominant policing philosophies. An exception were agencies that emphasized community policing which were more likely to use social media. In addition, agencies that emphasized predictive policing were more likely to use LPRs than those that did not. Among large agencies, however, we found stronger connections between the policing philosophies agencies adopt and the technology choices they make. Agencies that emphasized hot-spot policing were more likely to have used BWCs. The use of GIS was positively associated with community policing, hot-spot policing, and offender targeting. LPR and social media use was positively associated with community policing and hot-spot policing.

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Agency decision-making regarding technology acquisition and implementation. As a whole, our findings demonstrate that law enforcement technology adoption is often ad hoc and not based on longer-term planning. The tendency to purchase technology without a clear, strategic plan can result in limited integration within the agency and a failure to recognize the primary or secondary benefits of the technology. These factors can lead to disillusionment and a lack of continuation funding for maintaining or updating particular types of technology.

Impact of technology on policing activities. Perhaps not surprisingly automated records management systems (RMS) and computer-aided dispatch (CAD) were the technology credited with having the greatest impact on police agencies nationwide. This technology is central for carrying out the most fundamental professional policing activities, responding to calls for service and information management. The RMS/CAD technology is also crucial for generating the data that other activities and technology applications rely on, such as GIS, hot-spot policing, and other location-based activities.

Because of its highly flexible nature, GIS was reported to have the greatest impact on identifying and analyzing crime and disorder problems. Social media and data mining were both considered to successfully impact an agency’s ability to generate intelligence from the community (intelligence-based policing). Among the agencies that identified tracking officer conduct as a key activity, the use of BWCs was seen as more critical than the use of carmounted cameras.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Technology can produce various positive outcomes relative to improvements in policing

practices and the establishment of trust and legitimacy with communities. The President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing (2015) summarizes these points and acknowledges that technology is changing at an increasingly rapid pace. As the rate of technology adoption accelerates it becomes increasingly important for police agencies to consider how they select and implement technology and what strategic objectices these technologies will help them achieve.

Overall, our study found that technology is having a positive impact on U.S. law enforcement agencies in terms of increasing efficiency, providing communication, enhancing information-sharing practices, and improving informational and analytical capacities.

As highlighted above, some of these impacts are greatest for particular types of technology.

Yet, the findings also demonstrate that, as a whole, technology has not had a gamechanging impact on policing in terms of dramatically altering the philosophies and strategies used for preventing crime, responding to crime, or improving public safety.

Based on our finding, we determined that the adoption and impact of technology within an agency are often conditional upon three general types of factors: community, agency, and technology. Community factors may include local community priorities, state laws, or national sentiment (e.g., the push for BWC use after a high-profile incident). At the agencylevel, organizational climate will influence how technology is approached and integrated into the department. Finally, the factors intrinsic to the technology itself will influence success and adoption. For example, a certain technology may be more successful when it more closely parallels successful technology in the market (e.g., predictive analytics software can be seen as a natural extension of GIS use).

The following summarizes recommendations for developing a more successful national model for technology implementation in today’s law enforcement community.

Evidence-based research is needed in policing technology. Our research suggests that there needs to be greater emphasis on evidence-based, informed decision-making about new technology.

Strategic planning should include technology considerations. The strategic planning process appears to be severely overlooked in many agencies despite being integral to the success or failure of a technology.

Decision makers and technology experts should better collaborate on technology decisions. Many technologies are not broadly deployed in an agency, which can result in diverse problems in terms of buy-in and organizational impact.

Past experience with technology contributes to future behavior. Each agency and its community context are unique and there is often heavy emphasis placed on each agency’s own historical performance of technology identification, acquisition, and implementation.

Strategic planning and pre-implementation should be emphasized when an agency planning to obtain a new technology. Plans should be specific to an agency’s mission or preferred policing strategy, with clearly outlined goals. Specific personnel and knowledge requirements to reach those goals should be incorporated in the strategic plan. Agencies should consider how to quantify success, while concurrently working with researchers who can evaluate effectiveness of both processes and outcomes. Not only will this help agencies understand what needs to be changed but it will also inform the field of policing on how to increase sustainability and maximize the effects of their technology use.

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