What is DDACTS? The acronym stands for Data-Driven Approaches to Crime and Traffic Safety. It’s a law enforcement methodology that – you guessed it – uses data to help reduce crime and traffic collisions.
DDACTS was first piloted in 2008 and has since found favor among numerous state and local law enforcement agencies across the country. It’s a form of evidence-based policing that is supported at the federal level by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), and the National Institute of Justice (NIJ).
DDACTS uses historical time and location data to identify likely “hotspots” for crime and collisions. After these are identified, agencies deploy officers to patrol and problem-solve in these areas. The idea behind this is that highly visible resources have a deterrent effect on targeted incident types.
There are two key principles behind DDACTS. The first is that areas at high risk for crime can be identified with a fairly high degree of accuracy. Crime tends to be concentrated in very specific places at specific times. Also known as the “law of crime concentration,” this has been confirmed across multiple crime types, countries, and environments. Generally, about 50% of a given crime type is usually concentrated in a small percentage (1-2%) of a geographic area. Traffic collisions have also been observed to concentrate in specific areas at specific times.
The second principle is that the presence of visible officers in these locations has a deterrent effect on crime and collisions. Seeing an officer raises the risk/reward ratio in the eyes of a potential perpetrator; a visible officer presence also tends to reduce speeding, reckless driving, and other factors involved in traffic collisions.
So how does DDACTS work? There’s an in-depth resource at the end of this post, but if you don’t want to read all 81 pages, we’ll summarize the seven guiding principles for you below. It’s worth noting up front that Geolitica can support and automate all your agency’s DDACTS requirements at every step of the way!
Guiding Principle I – Outcomes
Outcomes reflect the long-term goals for your agency that you plan to support through DDACTS. Typical outcomes are fewer crashes, lower crime rates of targeted crimes, and better community relations.
Since you’re taking a data-driven approach, it’s best to express goals in measurable terms. Some examples could be: Reduce serious and fatal collisions by 20% per year. Drive down violent crime by 15% per year. Officers should spend at least 10% of patrol time doing community policing and outreach.
This, quite simply, is what Geolitica is all about: reducing crimes and collisions, while improving community relations. We will help you track your progress against your high-level and detailed goals with the suite of reporting tools described below.
Guiding Principle II – Data Collection
Data collection involves finding your data sources and getting meaningful data from them. This usually involves extracting data from your CAD and RMS platforms, which can be time-consuming and prone to error.
Geolitica can automatically connect to your systems and upload only the data we require for DDACTS implementation. We use only 3 data points: event type, event location, and event date and time. That’s it! There’s no personally identifiable information, no racial or demographic information, just the what-where-when.
Our Audit Report capabilities will also flag errors in your data. We’ll find address errors, date errors, event coding errors, duplicate crimes, and so on – and then flag them for you for review and download or fix. We also exclude crime types that are reported at places where they didn’t occur, like the hospital or police station. This helps you improve the quality of your own data as well as make more accurate risk assessment forecasts.
Since we update our model every day with the latest data, you can always be sure that your crime and traffic hotspots are always up to date.
Guiding Principle III – Data Analysis
This can be the most tedious and complicated part of DDACTS. You need to collect all of your event data and try to find time and location patterns in it. In some jurisdictions, this amounts to tens of thousands of discrete events.
Geolitica uses artificial intelligence to quickly analyze years of your data as well as recent event information. We will quickly flag for you the highest-risk locations for your officers to patrol. These locations will change by day of the week, shift, and event type – but we’ve got that covered! For any given shift and patrol area, Geolitica can identify separate hotspots for violent crime, property crime, and traffic crashes. We can also show you the “hottest” times for events like crashes on our 7x24 Incidents Heatmap. In the example below, you can see that the greatest number of collisions occur Monday through Wednesday between 15:00 and 17:00.
The locations we identify are shown on a map as red boxes, 500 x 500 feet in size. This is a focused area to patrol and simple to understand. The bottom line is if you can read a map, you can use Geolitica! We recommend that officers spend on average 6 minutes per hour in their assigned box locations during their shifts. We don’t tell them what to do, just where to do it. They can just sit in their cars, get out and talk to people in the neighborhood, or practice the problem-oriented policing (POP) skills they’ve learned at the academy or in their years of experience on the job. What’s most important is having a visible presence in that location to help deter crime and/or slow drivers down to prevent collisions.
With Geolitica, your crime analysts will finally be able to focus on higher value-add activities instead of putting dots on a map. As an added bonus, you won’t need to spend extra money on specialized and complicated analysis and mapping software.
Guiding Principle IV – Partners and Stakeholders Participation
All policing is at its heart community policing, and DDACTS recognizes that. This principle highlights the fact that your community needs to be part of the solution and needs to buy into the approach of your agency. During this step, you should develop an information-sharing plan that keeps relevant stakeholders informed and up to date.
Since DDACTS is all about data, Geolitica has reporting features that help you share relevant data with your community. Some examples of this are: Monthly or quarterly crime and crash figures in COMPSTAT format, showing changes over time. Our Patrol Heatmap report, which shows the relative amounts of patrol time that each part of your city receives, allows you to see if any areas are over-patrolled or under-patrolled. Our Missions Report, which allows you to share which event types your department is focused on, down to the beat, shift, and day of week level. Custom Box Reports for time spent doing specialized patrol activities, such as community policing, traffic details, watch orders, or other actions specific to your community.
Guiding Principle V – Strategic Operations
This section is all about actually using the outputs from all the steps above. In other words, now that you’ve built it, you have to use it! DDACTS is like a gym membership – if you don’t do anything with it then it’s just a waste of money.
Geolitica gives you the tools to act on your DDACTS locations – and to ensure that your officers are getting to their boxes. We use AVL in officer vehicles to see when they get to their box locations and how long they spend in boxes per shift. As noted above, the goal is to spend an average of 6 minutes per hour – about 10% of their time – in box locations during their shift. On a busy night, they may be so busy that they can only drive through their boxes between calls for service. That’s ok – some time spent is better than none!
You can also add custom boxes to supplement your department’s goals. These can be for things like watch orders, enhanced community policing, event management – anything your department needs to focus on. You can even customize the time spent and number of visits to these custom boxes, giving you granular control and monitoring over officer guidance in these locations.
Guiding Principle VI – Information Sharing and Outreach
This refers to both internal and external information sharing. For DDACTS to succeed, it’s critically important to share guidance internally to command staff and officers, with minimal friction. In other words, guidance should be unambiguous and simple to understand.
Geolitica’s simple guidance – red boxes on a map – creates a departmental standard for patrol guidance. You can incorporate the boxes into your daily routine and review during roll call, including custom boxes as appropriate.
Officers can log into Geolitica through their MDTs or tablets to check their box locations. They can even have their daily guidance delivered via email. Again, the point is to minimize friction.
The external audience for information outreach includes community stakeholders, whether they be citizens, media, partner organizations, or local government. As noted above, Geolitica generates a variety of reports that you can share on a daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis. You can present them at local government meetings, via the press, or on social media – that’s all part of the communication plan that you’ve developed above as part of Guiding Principle IV (Partners and Stakeholders Participation).
Guiding Principle VII – Monitoring, Evaluation, and Adjustments
This is where you step back and take a look at what you’ve been doing. This should be done at a minimum on a quarterly basis; some agencies will review as often as weekly.
Some of the questions you ask might be: Are we achieving the outcomes we laid out for this program? How effective are the tactics we’ve deployed, and do we need to change any of these? Do we need to change mission alignment – for example, should we shift from violent crime to property crime, or put less emphasis on crime and more on traffic? Are there seasonal variations that we need to adjust for our mission settings? For example, the holiday shopping season may cause an increase in vehicle burglaries, while summer tourists may cause an increase in violent crimes in certain areas.
Geolitica helps you with your periodic reviews with – you guessed it – data and reports. You can use our Analytics Overview report to visually see crime rates as they go up or down on a seasonal basis. You can use our point-and-click Crime Search tool to compare shifts and beats or a combination of both as you drill down to find out more about specific trends. You can create heat maps by crime type or a combination of crime types. Virtually anything you want to find out about crime and collisions in your agency is available through just a few clicks.
DDACTS is a proven tool for your department to help reduce crime and crashes while building community trust. It may look complicated and hard to implement when you’re faced with an 81-page implementation guide, but we can get you fully implemented, trained, and operational in just six weeks or less! Our record, by the way, is just 48 hours…
See the link below for the whole guide:
Or better still, click the button below to see how easy it is to roll out DDACTS with Geolitica!