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Police: Crime tracking a click away

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Gwinnett police plan to unveil an online crime mapping system today that allows the county's 800,000 residents to track crime with a few clicks of a mouse.

The interactive Web site, whose address has not been released, will enable residents to map and view reported criminal activity by using the names of neighborhoods or specific home addresses.

A similar site was launched recently in Atlanta, and police say departments across the nation are subscribing as a means to heighten public awareness.

The system will be unveiled at a demonstration this afternoon, said Gwinnett police spokesman Officer Brian Kelly.

"Community awareness is an effective means to reduce crime," Kelly said. "(Police) believe (the site) will empower citizens to take extra safety precautions ... and to be on the lookout for criminal activity."

The site is a hybrid of mapping technologies, using both Google Maps and an advanced geographic engine, Kelly said. Fresh crime data will be input on a regular basis, he said.

The service will also include a "Crime Alerts" utility that sends notifications via e-mail when crimes are reported near subscribers' homes, Kelly said.

The crime mapping concept has been proven effective in reducing crime in other communities, Kelly said.