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Improve Crime Prevention Strategies by Generating Reports from NIBRS Data

Crime Insights



Crime has become a major issue across the country after the pandemic and its economic fallout. As city governments face increased pressures to protect public safety, law enforcement agencies can harness data to identify and address crime trends.

As of 2021, the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) became the new law enforcement standard for crime data reporting. NIBRS enables the FBI to analyze data sent from some 18,000 law enforcement agencies across the country. The government can then compile those statistics into an annual report on crime.

Despite significant investment, many local law enforcement agencies have been unable to take full advantage of the opportunities presented by the rollout of NIBRS. Existing data systems at local agencies are often outdated, and many departments already lack appropriate resources to log data about each incident. Plus, the information gathered in NIBRS reports is suitable for federal analysis, but the data is not in a useful format at the local level.

However, there is a way for local law enforcement to tap into the data compiled for NIBRS to create timely reports about their community. With the help of the right tools, your agency can — and at a cost that won’t break already strapped city budgets.

Transforming NIBRS Data into Insights for Law Enforcement

The federal government implemented NIBRS with the intention to better inform the national conversation about crime and public safety. But the system presents unique challenges.

So far, only about two-thirds of local agencies across the country submit their data to the FBI. The slow start is understandable. NIBRS requires departments to record crime data in more detail than before, including more types of offenses as well as demographic data about victims and offenders. Then the NIBRS data is sent to the FBI from the agency’s Records Management System (RMS) or Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system. 

FBI uses NIBRS data to generate trend reports that tell a more complete story of public safety for policymakers, researchers, and the public. But the information isn’t immediately useful at the local level. The FBI reports on crime trends take months to produce, and local law enforcement has likely missed the window to create a useful response by the time they’re compiled.

Plus, NIBRS data is formatted in a way that’s not open to reporting outside of the FBI. Local agencies need to transform the data so it’s open for analysis, and departments like yours lack the analytics and IT resources such an effort requires. Given participation in the NIBRS program is voluntary, it’s little wonder one-third of agencies have yet to adopt a process that demands more time and delivers little actionable information about crime in their community.

Crime Insights: Easy Implementation for Advanced Data Analytics

At Zencos, in partnership with SAS, we designed Crime Insights — a turnkey, low-cost reporting solution. Crime Insights is a Software as a Service (SaaS) solution that extracts valuable insights from the NIBRS data your agency already compiled for the FBI. The platform ingests your NIBRS data and transforms it and enhances it with Analytics to deliver more up to date dashboards and reports. Crime Insights harnesses advanced analytics to generate reports and visualizations that directly impact your ability to identify patterns in local crime. 

Better still, your agency does not need to dedicate any new resources toward understanding data analytics or the Crime Insights platform. We designed the system to be approachable and very low-touch, which means the solution includes an online upload capability that will convert and load your NIBRS data and make it available for analysis immediately.. 

To see results, your team only needs to drag-and-drop the same file you generate for  the FBI into the platform. The process is no different than uploading a file in Windows or any other computer system.

How the Crime Insights Platform Impacts Crime Prevention

Crime Insights enables your agency to identify patterns of criminal activity using embedded SAS analytics. Instead of viewing individual incidents across the community, your department uses the platform to gain a broader perspective on incidents that occur over time and the impact against your agency’s goals.

With a holistic view of crime trends impacting your area, your team can segment that data in accordance with different attributes — like time, crime type, offenses, case dispositions, location, or demographics. Crime Insights provides predefined tables, charts, and other visualizations to reflect crime trends over a specific period or  geographic area.

Data analytics enables agencies like yours to better assess where your crime prevention strategy stands and what changes you need to make an impact. For example, Crime Insights allows you to examine areas of your community that are hotspots for theft, property damage, or other incidents and understand what that will project to in the future based on historical trends. Then, you can allocate resources to the areas of greatest need. 

You can also apply the platform to create a dashboard that updates at whatever pace suits your agency. As your team starts their day at roll call, they can view a projection of the dashboard and see what crimes have taken place, how you responded, and what you need to do next.

Data analytics also allows you to gain a full view of the incidents in your area and assess the relationships involved. Is there a correlation between an increase in one type of crime and a decrease in another? And how do you manage your workforce around those factors? With Crime Insights, you better understand how to manage your resources in a way that makes a difference.

Close the Gap Between Data and Action with Crime Insights

One of the core advantages of implementing Crime Insights is the platform takes advantage of work your agency is already doing. You’re creating logs of the necessary crime data. With Crime Insights, you gain the valuable insights you need while requiring none of the support or setup costs. Your agency only needs to upload your NIBRS data to create actionable insights.

Crime Insights is also the first SAS offering available through a digital sales channel like Azure Marketplace. The Marketplace is an online storefront that allows you to buy the software your agency needs. Consequently, Crime Insights is truly a software-as-service offering that doesn’t require additional IT resources to deploy. For law enforcement agencies that are already constrained for both staff and budget, Crime Insights constitutes a valuable advantage with minimal investment.

Working with Zencos, your agency can get started with Crime Insights and transform the NIBRS data you’re already compiling into insights that inform the way you protect public safety now. If this sounds like a tool that will make an impact on crime in your community, we should talk.

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