Interactive Web site launches

Photo by Tori Boone

Photo by Tori Boone

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Consider it the death knell for unfounded neighborhood crime rumors.

Gwinnett police on Tuesday unveiled a Web site -- www.crimemapping.com -- that allows residents to track the reported activity of burglars and bandits (and worse) in most areas. The site is offered free to anyone with access to the Internet, said Gwinnett police Lt. Steve White.

"I would say information leads to awareness," White said. "Hopefully, people become more aware."

The interactive Web site enables residents to map and view reported criminal activity by using the names of neighborhoods or specific home addresses, though crime locations are listed in only block format, White said.

Crime data will be extracted from the department's records system and input to the Web site every 24 hours. It will be available on the site for 90 days, White said.

The data tracks everything from auto accidents to homicides in unincorporated Gwinnett. A small blue icon in the shape of a ski mask, for instance, represents an armed robbery.

Gwinnett joins DeKalb County and a police department in Brunswick as the third Georgia agency to incorporate the system, White said. Sixty-three agencies nationwide use it.

No municipal police agency in Gwinnett is participating, thus crime reports within city limits will not appear in searches.

Some key points to keep in mind:

* The site does not list domestic disputes or juvenile crimes;

* The swiftness of search results depends on the specificity of the timeframe. That is, data slows when searching more than two weeks at once;

* Searches can be customized to pinpoint a specific type of crime;

* Crime types are indicated by 15 different icons or symbols;

* Zooming in on a specific area can differentiate overlapping crime icons;

* Specific addresses and victim names will not be listed.

The site includes a "Crime Alerts" utility that sends notifications via e-mail when crimes are reported near subscribers' homes. White called the alerts "extremely valuable" in crime-fighting efforts.

Gwinnett police subscribe to the service through vendor Omega Group for about $100 a month, or $1,200 per year, White said. The county had already purchased and been using $65,000 software called Crime View, which has aided the implementation of the Web site, officials said.

Gwinnett Police Chief Charles Walters called the site a cost-cutting measure, in that his employees won't be tied up providing police reports for residents to conduct their own crime-tracking.

"It's a big cost-saver for us," Walters said. "We get requests every day for crime analysis in specific neighborhoods."