RTI International makes new 911 software open source

Software is being launched in response to a White House Call to Action as part of the Data-Driven Justice Initiative

hand dialing 911 on a cellphone

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC— A software tool that helps law enforcement agencies analyze their 911 calls for service, developed by RTI International, is now available in open-source form.

Based on call-for-service (CFS) data, CFS Analytics™ is a web-based application designed to help law enforcement leaders more efficiently deploy police resources. By releasing the CFS Analytics™ code to the open-source community, RTI is inviting partner agencies to enhance the software and promote the use of data in policing.

The tool enables law enforcement leaders to quickly compare performance metrics across different units, demonstrate agency resource demands, confirm that resources are being deployed in the right place and time, and identify periods of time where law enforcement resources are outstripped by demand.

“Interest in data-driven policing has never been greater but this is also coming at a time when many agencies are facing resource constraints,” said Kevin J. Strom, Ph.D., director of RTI’s policing research program. “CFS Analytics™, because it uses CFS data which is the major driver for how law enforcement use their resources, offers a way for law enforcement agencies to operate more effectively.”

The release of CFS Analytics™ coincides with today’s launch of the Data-Driven Justice Initiative by the White House.

The Data-Driven Justice Initiative is a bipartisan coalition of 67 city, county, and state governments who have committed to using data-driven strategies to divert low-level offenders with mental illness out of the criminal-justice system. These strategies, which have measurably reduced jail populations in several communities, help stabilize individuals and families, better serve communities, and often save money in the process.

“Law enforcement officers come into contact with persons suffering from mental illness on a regular basis as part of their daily duties,” Strom said. “Officers are deployed to areas where police resources are demanded and that demand is communicated by citizens calling 911. CFS Analytics™ allows law enforcement, among other types of analyses, to take a data-driven approach to identify 911 ‘super users,’ which may represent specific locations or persons. Once identified, law enforcement can then proactively engage in problem solving, offer alternative solutions to arrest, and reduce the utilization of 911 for these populations.”

CFS Analytics™ will be offered to all 67 participating jurisdictions as a tool to help them achieve the Initiative's goals.

Recently, the Durham Police Department (Durham, NC) piloted CFS Analytics™. RTI’s policing researchers and data scientists have worked closely with the department's officers and commanders to improve the software and take advantage of its potential.

“This has been a great collaboration between an end user—the Durham Police Department—and our experts in both police research and data science," said Gayle Bieler, director of RTI's Center for Data Science. "Using a combination of statistical rigor and human-centered design, RTI’s data scientists have built a visually appealing and intuitive solution that will help police agency’s make important decisions."

The Durham Police Department has praised CFS Analytics™ for its visual “dashboard” of graphs on call volume, response time, and officer allocation, and for the way it makes data accessible to all levels of the chain of command.

“As we continue to assess our operational effectiveness, the Durham Police Department will actively seek opportunities to improve police operations by leveraging cutting edge data analytics and technology,” said the Durham Police Department Chief Cerelyn Davis. “RTI has developed an interactive dashboard to analyze calls for service data, which we believe will assist Department leaders in the deployment of personnel resources.”

Police agencies interested in the tool can view more information at http://www.rti.org/cfsanalytics or by contacting cfsanalytics@rti.org.