Drawing insights from national crime trends has been a goal of the federal government for decades. However, with the full transition to the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) in 2021, the FBI entered a new era. Previously, the agency only compiled broad data around serious crimes. Now, the agency is able to access a wealth of detailed information from local agencies, resulting in a more complete picture of crime in the U.S.
Along with tracking homicide and robbery figures, the NIBRS system compiles drug and weapons charges, hate crimes, and other offenses. NIBRS data also captures demographic data for offenders and victims. In addition, it records the time and location of crimes and whether an arrest was made.
These reports provide useful insights to policymakers, researchers, and the public. But they require more effort from law enforcement to log specific details about each incident. Plus, NIBRS data has no immediate application beyond the annual reports from the FBI. To make a real impact on crime, local agencies should be able to use this information in a more timely manner to inform their enforcement efforts.
How Our Crime Insights Tool Makes NIBRS Data Actionable
Under the NIBRS system, local agencies send their crime data to the government through their Records Management System (RMS) or Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system. Any information derived from NIBRS data isn’t immediately useful to the local agency. By the time the FBI publishes its year-end trend reports, it’s too late to inform a shift in strategy.
However, with Crime Insights, your agency can generate timely, actionable information from your NIBRS data. Created in partnership with SAS, Microsoft, and Zencos, the platform is a turnkey, low-cost software solution that analyzes your NIBRS data. Crime Insights applies advanced analytics to generate timely reports that enable your team to better identify and respond to crime patterns in your jurisdiction.
NIBRS constitutes a technological step forward for the FBI. But your agency doesn’t need additional technical expertise to incorporate Crime Insights into its day-to-day operations. The system was designed to be a user-friendly Software-as-a-Service solution (SaaS) with a low barrier to entry.
Loading your NIBRS data into the system is as simple as dragging and dropping a file in the same way you would on a personal computer. Once Crime Insights processes your information, your agency gains multiple new perspectives on public safety.
3 Views of Crime Trends with a Crime Insights Dashboard
Crime Insights provides a way to experience real, on-the-ground benefits from participating in the NIBRS program. By applying the platform’s predefined charts and visualizations, you can develop a more holistic view of crime in your community. Below, we’ve included screenshots of a subset of the visualizations to illustrate the analytics provided by the system.
1. View Crime Incidents by Local Area
Crime Insights applies the geographic details from NIBRS data to illustrate areas with the most criminal activity. Depending on your agency’s needs, you can generate these reports over one week to inform your team’s priorities at morning roll call.
In the above graphic, the left side of the dashboard displays incidents in a specific census tract over a five-month period. On the right, the same data factors in the seriousness of the crime using the Cambridge Crime Harm Index (CCHI).
The dashboard also includes a breakdown of the types of crime included in the report in a table on the right-hand side. Your agency can use this information to inform how you allocate resources going forward and develop new strategies.
2. Generate Trend Analysis of Criminal Activity
Crime Insights enables you to visualize the impact of enforcement by creating reports that analyze activity over a defined period. These visualizations allow your team to uncover the contributing factors or shifts in strategies that trigger increases or decreases in crime.
In the above graphic, you see incidents broken out by days of the week indicating spikes in crime on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Just below, the dashboard also breaks out each incident by time of day.
A chart also compares activity over two separate months and tracks the percentage of change. The example above shows a 50% increase in burglary in July of 2023 compared with the previous month. Along with listing where crimes are happening in your community, the dashboard also displays a graphic of incidents over a defined time frame.
3. Visualize Yearly Activity and Clearance Rates
Just as the FBI applies NIBRS data to create an overview of national crime statistics, you can apply it to generate detailed reports specific to your agency.
Above, the visualization shows the criminal activity and percentage of change month after month. Plus, charts along the top display the varieties of incident types, which enables you to create new strategies to target the most frequent crimes.
The visualization also creates an overview of your agency’s enforcement effort in a single view. A bar chart displays your agency’s open cases, those that have been cleared by arrest, or cleared by other factors. With this information, you gain a better understanding of how well your investigative approaches are working — and where they need improvement.
Transform Data Into a Powerful Ally
Implementing Zencos’ Crime Insights tool enables your agency to better take advantage of its adoption of the NIBRS program. Just as importantly, you can secure the benefits of these dashboards without overextending your budget. You gain a vital, informative ally with minimal investment.
By working with an IT partner like Zencos, you can transform your NIBRS data into a tool that informs how you protect public safety. If this sounds like a resource that would impact how you view crime in your community, we should talk. ..