Tag: law enforcement

MGRS/USNG Coordinates to Web Map Made Easy


Have you ever received files containing coordinates in Military Grid Reference System (MGRS) or United States National Grid (USNG) format and wondered… “what now?  Can I use these coordinate values as easily as I use XY values?”  If so, we … Continue reading

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Getting Started with ArcGIS Online Part III: Sharing Your Map

We have geocoded a spreadsheet and styled an informative map that comes alive in the web environment. But why are we making web maps in the first place? Is it because we want to show off the latest capabilities of ArcGIS online? No! We are trying to solve a problem. The problem we had was: spatially enabling text-based information that is locked down in an organizations’ spreadsheet, without access to specialized skills or software. We have successfully authored a map based on this spreadsheet, now we want to SHARE the map and unleash its potential with a variety of web mapping applications. Then we will allow our audience, the users of our maps, to utilize some interesting GIS
capabilities. How are we going to do this? There are several methods, depending on your needs:

  1. Socializing your web map
  2. Embed your web map
  3. Create a presentation for your web map
  4. Design your own stand-alone web mapping application

First, let’s revisit our web map; notice this map can be opened in the ArcGIS Online Viewer or ArcGIS Explorer Online. Compare and contrast the functionality between the two (under the hood, ArcGIS Online is a JavaScript application and ArcGIS Explorer Online is built using Microsoft Silverlight, if you were wondering). First, make sure your map is public (or at least share it within an ArcGIS online Group using the Share button below).

Socializing your web map

There are many ways to share your map with others. The simplest way is to share a URL such as http://bit.ly/sBau3H.  It’s easy to “socialize” or promote your web map using the Facebook and Twitter buttons on the web map description page (seen in screenshot above) once the map has been made public. This can also be done from the map itself in the Web Map Viewer or ArcGIS Explorer Online by clicking on the respective buttons:

By sharing our map in this way, we allow others to view and collaborate on projects that provide additional context or meaning to our original web map. Once shared, another user could add a Map Service using the “Search for layers to add” functionality. Here (below) we used the keyword “demographics” to search for what layers are freely available using ArcGIS Online. We added the USA Tapestry Segmentation thematic map, which classifies U.S. neighborhoods into 65 segments based on their socioeconomic and demographic composition. This could be useful for describing how community-oriented policing fits into the community itself.

Embed your web map

Another way that web maps can be useful is if we want to embed it into an existing website or blog; again we use the Share button and simply copy and paste the map’s HTML code into the website. This may be a job for your agency’s web master or administrator, but you can see what this might look like at the membership page for Major Cities Chiefs or embedded in the blog as we have done here.

View Larger Map

Create a presentation for your web map

Sometimes, the best way to share spatial information is through a story. As the proverb goes—“Tell me a fact and I’ll learn. Tell me a truth and I’ll believe. But tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever.”

With ArcGIS, you can use your web map to create and give a dynamic presentation that tells an interesting and informative story. This presentation capability is map-centric and has been deployed by Law Enforcement agencies for briefings, both informative and tactical in nature (CompStat, Community Briefings, etc.). This has been helpful for agencies in lieu or in conjunction with traditional presentation formats (like Microsoft PowerPoint). Here we will use ArcGIS Explorer Online in presentation mode to do just that—first, open your web map in ArcGIS Explorer Online. Once your map is open in ArcGIS Explorer Online, click the Presentation tab:

To tell your story, capture new slides, change title headings, switch out basemaps, and add other layers as you wish. When you present your story, you will have a presentation to deliver your message from any computer or even a mobile device. Of course, this presentation can be shared via this URL hyperlink.

Design your own stand-alone web mapping application

Web mapping applications allow you to bring your web map to life. The ArcGIS Explorer Online presentation is one form of an ArcGIS Web Mapping Application. Again, using the Share button (see below) in the ArcGIS Online Viewer, we can now create our own web application with customizable templates and ArcGIS Online as our web host.

We can preview our web map in each of these applications, download the source code (for web programmers), or publish the web application on ArcGIS Online. Now you can share your web mapping application and configure it as you see fit. Here we used the ‘Chrome—Twitter’ template to produce an application that can be useful for monitoring the Occupy Wall Street movement in our area. One way police agencies can leverage social media is to monitor large gatherings and prepare for emergencies ahead of time. Other web mapping application templates allow you to edit GIS data, visualize time enabled data, and view maps side-by-side. Keep an eye on the templates, since new ones are added regularly.

It all started with a spreadsheet and now, GIS is everywhere!

To summarize this blog series for Public Safety users, we have just performed and outlined the following steps to become a web-mapping pro:

1.    Sign in to ArcGIS.com
2.    Create a map
3.    Save it
4.    Make your map public
5.    Share it

The ArcGIS system is pervasive and you have just utilized a critical component. This approach is scalable and will work to solve problems at an individual level all the way up to integration with your Organization in the very near future! Happy sharing and please leave comments and questions for your authors.

Contributed by Rachel Weeden, Solution Engineer Manager, and Paul Doherty, Public Safety Technology Specialist

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Getting Started with ArcGIS Online Part II: Styling Your Map

In our last blog post, we shared an approach that may help you get started with making simple, interactive web maps with your tabular data. We used an example from a recent project (mapping member locations for the Major Cities Chiefs), but this process could be applied to any similar data table common in the Public Safety arena – think crime incidents, patrol posts, or critical facilities.

Once your data has been added to the map using the methods we described in Part 1, it’s time to start styling your map-deciding on the ‘look and feel’ that end users will experience can go a long way to making an interactive web map useful!

First, you may have noticed that when you brought in your tabular data, your points were laid on top of an existing map.  Having a nice, detailed basemap already prepared is a real time saver and is a key first step towards a great-looking web map. ArcGIS Online provides several different basemaps for you to choose from, so a simple way to customize your project is to explore the different options. Just last month Esri added a new option, the light gray Canvas Map, which can be particularly effective when you want your data to take center stage, and the basemap to provide subtle context. Changing between basemaps is easy-use the ‘Basemap’ button to view the gallery, and
click on any of the thumbnails:

After selecting a basemap, explore it by zooming in, out, and around your map; the appearance changes at different scales, so it’s important to see which may be the best fit. Here are some examples of how our data would look when overlaid on different basemaps. Note how some basemaps highlight the point data, while others provide more layers of information:

For this project, I chose the light gray canvas map:

With a basemap selected, we can now focus on the data that you’ve brought into your map. We’ll call this the ‘operational layer’-it’s your organization’s business data, the star of the show. The default symbol, green stickpin, might be the exact way you wanted to represent your data. Assuming you had something else in mind, let’s take a look at the different ways you could change the look of your point data. By default, all of the features in your layer (all of the rows of your spreadsheet) are drawn with the same symbol. In this case, all of the police departments look the same on the map. If we change the symbol for one feature, they will all change. I’d rather use a symbol that is more appropriate for law enforcement, so I’ll change the style of my symbol to one from the ‘Safety Health’ category:

I chose the Police Station symbol, and also adjusted the size to 18 point, a bit smaller than default:

If you wanted to go further to represent your data in an intuitive way, or communicate a specific message that needs more visual impact, there are options to change the symbols based on information in the table. For example, if we wanted to make the icons on the map reflect the total budget of these police departments, we could use the field ‘Budget’ from our original spreadsheet. Because this field was a part of the spreadsheet that we uploaded to the site, it’s available to help us style our map. In this case, we can choose to draw features classified by value. In other words, the appearance of the symbol will reflect the value of a field we choose. This works with any numerical field. Instead of using the default of ‘Single Symbol’ I’ll choose ‘Classify Using Size’ from the Configure Display panel:

You can see the change in the symbol appearance on the map, above. Police departments with larger budgets now have a larger symbol and vice versa. Be sure to note that any blank or missing values in the spreadsheet will affect the end result—police departments that had no budget value listed do not show up on the map. Again, exploring the different ways to style your data is easy and it’s difficult to make a mistake. Try a few different options to see what works best. When you are done experimenting and find something you like, save your map.

Now that our map is styled with an appropriate basemap and meaningful symbology for your data, let’s add another dimension. The first thing that most people will do when they see your map is click on one of those points. It’s a way for them to ask ‘What is this?’ Doing so will show more information about the point in a pop-up window. One way to create a useful web map is to make sure that when someone clicks on a point, the information that’s displayed is clear and meaningful. We saw in the previous post that, by default, the pop-up window shows all of the data that was in your spreadsheet. Chances are you’ll want to make a few changes, whether it is changing the field name or turning off some data.

In this case, I’ll access the Configure Pop-ups menu and do some formatting of the fields. First, instead of plain text, I can select one of the fields to be the heading in the pop-up window—a good choice would be {Department}, so right away users see the name of the police department they’ve clicked. Note the curly brackets that designate you’re using a field value rather than plain text. In other words, typing ‘Department’ is not the same as typing ‘{Department}.’  ince I am using that field as the title, I can turn it off from the field list along with other fields I don’t need to see:



There are more pop up window properties you can change on the ‘Fields’ tab, such as formatting numeric fields to use comma separators. What’s important on this tab is that you can control which fields you want your map users to be able to edit or change. In this case, I don’t want any changes to be made, so I’ll uncheck all the fields as

In addition to editing the way your tabular data appears in the pop-up, you can also add multimedia content that might not have been a part of your original dataset. This could include photos or videos. With the sample data we’ve been using, I may want the Major Cities Chiefs logo to appear in each pop-up. It’s important to note that, in order to add an image, it must already exist on the web -this is different than uploading an image file from your computer. If you have an image you’d like to use that is not available on the web, you may be able to talk with your IT/web department to see if they can help you host the image. In this example, I am using the Major Cities Chiefs logo that is posted as an image on their Facebook page:

Entering a title, caption, or related link for the image are optional fields. I left them blank to let the logo speak for itself. Here’s what the pop-up window looks like, as a result:

At this point, I’ve done three simple things to style my map:  I’ve selected a basemap, changed the symbols of the point data, and configured my pop-ups. Not only do you have a great-looking web map, but you also provide useful, contextual information to users who interact with it. Now, we just want to get it into the hands of people who need it! There are lots of different options in ArcGIS Online for sharing our web maps and giving people access, which is what we’ll discuss in the next blog, “Getting Started with ArcGIS Online Part III: Sharing Your Map.”


Contributed by Rachel Weeden, Solution Engineer Manager, and Paul Doherty, Public Safety Technology Specialist

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2011 UC Public Safety Showcase Highlights ArcGIS as a System

The UC Public Safety Showcase once again gave attendees a chance to discover, share, and grow as professionals. It supplied first hand demos from Esri expert partners and users. From command-level staff to analysts and first responders, there was something for everyone. The Operation SafetyNet demo area-now in its second year and a staple of the Showcase-gave attendees proven examples of effective GIS deployment. A new aspect of the Showcase-the added fire scenario-helped present effective use of Esri technology for managing fire service demands. There were interrelated exhibits for the four public safety workflow patterns-data management, planning and analysis, field mobility, and situational awareness. Real-world users of Esri technology-from law enforcement, emergency management, fire, search and rescue, and homeland security operations-were also on hand in the Showcase area to share their success in meeting mission demands.

Here are some of the post event resources for you:

Photo Album-Check out the photos taken during the event.

Videos from the Public Safety Showcase Demo Theater-This also includes presentations from our Public Safety Showcase Platinum Sponsors:

2011 Esri International User Conference Paper Sessions

We hope to see you next year in San Diego!

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New Crime Symbols Available

I know many of you who map data for law enforcement agencies struggle with finding just the right way to symbolize your crime data. Some of you customize the built-in ESRI “crime” style to meet your needs, some use simple symbols from other styles, and others design their own symbols from the ground-up. For a new demo project I’m working on, none of these options were working for me – I wanted a symbol set that looked modern, “popped” off of the ArcGIS basemaps, yet still conveyed an element of the “traditional” crime symbols we’re used to. Given that I have little artistic talent of my own, I enlisted the help of ESRI’s graphics department to design a new set of crime symbols. Together, we designed the new set of 13 common crime symbols for use in Web Mapping applications, but they work just as well in Desktop projects. Hopefully, many of you will get to see the symbols in action at this year’s User Conference, where I’ll be working at the Public Safety Showcase Theater, but even better – they’re available for download on the ArcGIS Resources section of the ESRI Mapping Center here (Note: the style file is compatible with ArcGIS 10).

For help working with Style files in ArcGIS Desktop, you can reference the help, here: What Are Symbols and Styles?

Here’s a quick look at the new crime style in ArcMap, overlaid on the World Topo map service from ArcGIS.com:

New Crime Style 


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Testing Public Safety Workflows at ArcGIS 10 (Part 2)

To follow up on my previous blog post, I wanted to pass along additional information on the projects that the Public Safety team worked on, as part of our week in the Holistic Testing lab. In addition to the ArcGIS Desktop GIS projects that were highlighted previously, we also had several people focused on ArcGIS Server (Web and Mobile) workflows to support the Public Safety community:

1. ArcGIS Mobile: ArcGIS 10 provides several enhancements on the mobile side that are important to public safety organizations. One significant addition is the ability to extent mobile projects to tablet-based PC’s using a ready-to-deploy app. This application supports a new “View Field Crew” task; being able to see the location of mobile workers both in the field and back in the command center/office is helpful to efficiently task teams to carry out the mission in addition to enhancing safety. Photos can also now be captured directly on the device and embedded inside the feature as either a Raster or Blob object. Check out the screen snapshots, below, for a quick look:

The mobile project application showing the field crew: 

 A photo captured in the field displayed as a feature attribute in

 2. Web Apps using the JavaScript API: The new ArcGIS Server Web API for JavaScript (version 2.0) provides powerful new tools for building an effective community mapping Web app for Law Enforcement. Two exciting new features were tested: Feature Service and Time-Enabled Service. Using sample crime datasets, one tester created a Web application using the new JSAPI that would allow community members to report information by sketching on the map, and have this new data stored directly in a Geodatabase. It’s interesting to imagine how Law Enforcement agencies could use these new techniques to gather intelligence from the public; for example, a user could draw a single point location on the map to report suspicious activity, or sketch an outline of an area of concern and add comments. Also tested was the ability to use time-enabled services. A tool called “time slider” lets the user visually adjust the particular time window to determine what crimes are displayed on the map – this assists in understanding not only the spatial aspects of crime patterns, but temporal patterns as well. See the screen snapshots, below, of our early prototype:

Feature services allow simple user sketching to create data on a map:

The time-slider control lets users easily filter incidents based on date: 

3. Web Apps using the Silverlight API: in addition to the JSAPI, we also had testers working on the newest version of the Silverlight API (version 2.0) and its potential applications in Law Enforcement. Of particular interest are the Feature Service and Time-Enabled Service (sound familiar?!). Our Silverlight testing focused on prototyping an internal Web app that officers within a Police Department would use for fairly typical crime analysis tasks – querying, mapping and charting – but we dressed things up a bit with a time-slider filter for the dates. Time-enabling the map, both in the Desktop and Server, is something that we see as a very compelling use-case, so we wanted to make sure we understood the process in several different client environments. You can see the screen snapshots of our results, below:

Performing a query results in a bi-directional bar chart and map, giving two views of the results: 

The time-slider control filters the incidents by date, on the map and the data grid:

So this concludes the test of ArcGIS 10 for Public Safety! We hope that you find this informative, as you start looking forward to the next release and how it can help enhance your applications and workflows. As always, we look forward to your comments and suggestions.

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Testing Public Safety Workflows at ArcGIS 10

Some of you may know that ESRI has a facility in Redlands dedicated to software testing sessions – the Holistic Testing lab. As you can imagine, it’s been a busy place as we move through our beta program for ArcGIS 10. Last week, the Public Safety team at ESRI had an opportunity to participate in a dedicated session where we focused on how the next release will enhance existing Public Safety workflows, as well as provide new solutions. Oh yeah, and we wanted to log software bugs and enhancement requests, too!

We had ten employees from several divisions within ESRI participate, and we each came prepared to test and develop demonstrations concentrating on specific aspects of our software ranging from Desktop to Mobile, and including data as complex as large imagery datasets or as simple as points representing Volunteer Geographic Information (VGI).

Here we are, happily testing away:


It was a great opportunity for us to spend a week focused on the new features of ArcGIS 10 and how they apply to the Public Safety community, so we wanted to share our progress with you – in this post, I’ll highlight our work with ArcGIS Desktop, and in the next post, I’ll share the work we did with Server.

1. Geoprocessing with ModelBuilder: Many of you use ModelBuilder as a way to automate repetitive tasks in ArcGIS. One tester worked with the new iterator tools (which make it easier to incorporate programming logic for automation) using a scenario where a storm put several cell phone towers out of service. He wanted to build a tool that would allow him to analyze the best order in which to bring the towers back online, with the goal of restoring communication to as many people as possible. As you can see, the population and the service area of the cell phone towers were both factors; using iterators, he was able to build a model that determined the best order, and take into account how each previous tower brought online affected the next decision.

Below are screen snapshots showing the population distribution, overlapping service areas, and the result of the model, including a graph showing affected population (click to view larger image):


2. ArcGIS Desktop Enhancements: Many of the new usability and user-interface enhancements in ArcGIS 10 seemed perfectly suited for the role of a Desktop GIS/Crime Analyst. I spent time upgrading a project that analyzed gang-related crime in a small U.S. city, and was able to incorporate many of the new features of ArcGIS Desktop, including:

  • Accessing Data: Whether it was the new integrated Catalog window or the Desktop Search tools, finding and accessing data and maps makes using ArcGIS Desktop much smoother. For example, I used item description tags to set keywords for my data; I tagged a layer file that resulted from a GP model I ran with “gang,” “link analysis” and “vandalism” so that any GIS users in my organization can easily search for and use my results.
  • Temporal Analysis: ArcGIS 10 has a new experience for working with time-based data – a new tab on the layer properties allows you to make any layer with a date/time attribute “time-aware.” In my crime analysis project, almost all of my data had a temporal aspect, whether it was the date/time stamp of crime incidents, or the date range that a certain patrol unit was assigned to an area. Once ArcMap knows about these time-aware layers, using the new Time Slider toolbar makes it easy to navigate and visualize data across time.
  • File Attachments: A lot of the geo-enabled data that a crime analyst works with is related to other information, like a scanned copy of a police report or a graffiti photo. Having access to all of this content within ArcGIS is really convenient using feature class attachments. You can add files (of any type) to individual features, and these attachments are accessible from the Identify and Attribute windows, or as HTML pop-ups, putting relevant information at the analysts’ fingertips.

Below are screen snapshots showing the time slider and feature attachments in my project (click to view larger image):


3. Data Driven Pages/US National Grid Map Book: Often, emergency responders rely on printed map books for navigation, communicating position, and locating assets. The U.S. National Grid (USNG) is a ground-based gridded coordinate system that is well-suited for these purposes, so one tester decided to put this scenario work. He used the new arcpy.mapping tools to create a 1:6,000 scale map book, with each page representing a properly-labeled 1,000 meter by 1,000 meter area designed for use with the USNG.

As you can see from the screen snapshots, below, the final map book product included a map index, map pages and a feature index report built using the new Reports wizard (click to view larger image).


So there you have it – as you can see, we really enjoyed finding applications for the new ArcGIS 10 functionality that will serve the Public Safety community. As I mentioned, Part 2 will focus on our work with ArcGIS Server, but in the meantime, we’d like to hear your feedback – what new features of ArcGIS 10 are you most looking forward to, and how will they improve the work you do? Sharing your ideas could lead to a future holistic testing session that is open to our users as well!

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Creating a Common Operational Picture with ArcGIS – FREE Live Training Seminar, September 24, 2009

Have you ever wanted to know how you could stand up a common operational picture for your organization – or wanted to understand how others have been able to do it?  If so – the public safety team at ESRI would like invite you to attend informational and FREE Live Training Seminar focused on answering those questions for you.  This don’t miss event will be held:

Thursday, September 24, 2009
9:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., & 3:00 p.m. Pacific Time (US & Canada)
12:00 p.m., 2:00 p.m., & 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time (US & Canada)

4:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m., & 10:00 p.m. UTC/GMT

As we know, the objective of a common operational picture (COP) is to provide intended users with situational awareness. Situational awareness is being aware of what is happening around you to understand how information, events, and actions will impact your goals and objectives both now and in the near future. This is especially important where information flows are high and poor decisions may lead to serious consequences. In this seminar, the presenter will use the emergency management mission as an example to explain how GIS can be deployed to create and sustain comprehensive situational awareness. The presenter will discuss requirements, capabilities, and user considerations for enabling a GIS-enabled common operational picture.

Key points

The presenter will discuss:

  • What is a common operational picture (COP)
  • How a GIS-powered COP creates comprehensive situational awareness
  • COP requirements, including data management, planning analysis, situational awareness, and field operations support

Intended audience

This seminar is designed for professionals and GIS analysts in the following industries: public safety, law enforcement, homeland security, emergency, wildfire, and disaster management, as well as asset- intensive industries such as utilities, energy, government, transportation, and telecommunications.We hope to see you there. 

Please also share your thoughts back to team here – by adding a blog post!

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