Editor’s Note: Providing a safe and secure environment for the citizens is the mission of U.S. law enforcement agencies. Today we invited Jeff Smith, Enterprise Systems Manager from the Georgia Department of Corrections, to share how it improved offender management by using Google Maps.

The Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC) is the largest law enforcement agency in the state. Our team of over 13,000 Corrections professionals strives everyday to manage the offenders effectively while helping to provide a safe and secure environment for the citizens. With a growing number of probationers to supervise - now more than 150,000 - this challenge was becoming increasingly more difficult and we needed modern technology to help us.
With the massive number of probationers in the GDC system, it’s fundamental that we have accurate mapping tools in order for probation officers to manage their caseloads appropriately. Believe it or not, for decades we had been plotting the probationers on paper maps and manually drawing the routes we took to supervise them. More recently, our officers turned to publicly available mapping tools to make their job easier on their own. In spite of that, accuracy was still a problem, and we came to realize the urgent need to equip our officers with accurate, interactive maps.

We implemented a solution that integrates large amounts of offender management data that we collected into Google Maps API Premier in October 2010. Google Maps gives us the flexibility to send large amounts of data to draw a single map and customize the data icons. We can easily map the address of each offender and color-code it based on the offender’s supervision level. Probation officers are now able to access customized Google Maps both from their desk computers and on their netbooks when they are on the road. An officer can quickly see on a map all the offenders he supervises, their addresses, identification information, supervision levels, and the probation office supervising the offenders’ cases. Officers can optimize caseloads based on real geographic boundaries so each of them can focus just on a sector of the city and reduce the amount of time spent navigating through Atlanta. We can also run a search by officer, office, or by radius to identify the cases. If an offender reports a home address change, we can tell if he or she moves out of the region and needs to be reassigned to another officer or office. We no longer have to rely on the offenders’ self-reported data for the city or county their residence is in. Google Maps has helped advance our case management and collaboration significantly.

With the capability to visualize where the offenders live, Executive Management also realized Google Maps would be a valuable tool in deciding where to establish new offices. These new ways to look at managing offenders and officer caseloads were hard to imagine with our previous systems.

Google Maps has helped us improve collaboration and optimize resource allocation intelligently. We can now focus more on our core agenda, which is to protect our citizens and provide effective opportunities for offenders to achieve positive change.