PITTSFIELD -- Detailed information about criminal activity in the city is now a few clicks away through an online mapping service available through the Pittsfield Police Department website.
Police Chief Michael J. Wynn said the constantly updating crime maps are made possible through a partnership between the department and BAIR Analytics Inc. The national firm provides specialized mapping services to government agencies and businesses and offers the crime-mapping feature free of charge to public safety organizations.
Residents and others can access the feature -- called RAIDS Online -- through the PPD site, www.pittsfieldpd.org, or by going directly to www.raidsonline.com, the company site. The city link already has "Pittsfield, MA" typed into the address space at the top left of the home page.
"People will have the ability to type in their exact address," Wynn said, as well as set a time period or type of crime or other details to be displayed on the map."
What visitors to the site will see is icons representing different types of crimes plotted on a Pittsfield map in the exact locations. Data automatically drawn from PPD crime reports is displayed, and up to 27 categories of crime can be included.
When the crime icons are clicked on, a pop-up provides details of the crime, such as larceny over $250, and the date, time and street -- plus the distance from the address plugged in. That will allow citizens to see where crimes were committed relative to their homes, Wynn said, and there is a feature providing emailed reports from within a specified area.
Police also could benefit significantly, the chief said, in that the pop-up windows also include a link to the PPD's anonymous tips line, provided by Citizen Observer.com.
Other options on the RAIDS Online site are the ability to analyze data, such as through "heat mapping," or color-coded graphics showing significant criminal activity -- coded red -- or little or no activity -- coded blue, Wynn said.
The chief stressed that visitors to the site should not expect to see every police log call listed. The icons represent a crime for which a written police report has been entered, he said, adding that sex crimes are not listed.
Data for specific times or dates or periods can be mapped, and Pittsfield data now is listed for the past two weeks.
A satellite view of the city with the crimes plotted also is available.
RAIDS Online automatically syncs with the PPD's records system to keep crime information updated online and in a mobile app. RAIDS Online cleans and geocodes the crime data, then displays all of the incidents on a map, grid and analytics dashboard.
"The Pittsfield Police Department's participation in RAIDS Online highlights their commitment to proactive communication with the public they serve," said Sean Bair, founder of BAIR Analytics in a release. "We're excited to partner with the Pittsfield Police Department to provide this free service for their public."
Wynn said the service "is a natural extension of our ongoing neighborhood watch initiatives. By utilizing this tool, the department can provide up-to-date information to our neighborhood watch partners on a constant basis. In turn, they can provide information to us about activity in their neighborhoods."
He said there are now about a dozen watch groups active in Pittsfield.
The RAIDS Online Mobile app is available free from the App Store. The app makes the crime information an analytics accessible from a user's mobile device.
BAIR Analytics, established in 1997, is an analytical software and services company providing tools and subject-matter expertise for public safety, private security, national security and defense entities, Bair said.
Nearly half of the largest public-safety agencies in the U.S. use BAIR's products services, he said. Customers also include the firms Wal-Mart, Target, the federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms and the Department of Defense.
For more information, visit www.bairanalytics.com.
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