Penn State video highlights use of digital mapping in police work

Penn State Public Broadcasting’s third installment of the Geospatial Revolution Project deals with the technology in relation to privacy and how geospatial information affects law enforcement, war and diplomacy. Watch the episode at http://geospatialrevolution.psu.edu/episode3/ online.

University Park, Pa. -- As police departments around the country consolidate and face tough decisions on how best to use limited resources, geospatial technology has proven to be an asset. Geospatial technology allows law enforcement officials to identify crime hot spots in the communities they serve, so they can dedicate the necessary resources to these areas, thus maximizing efficiency.

Penn State Public Broadcasting’s four-part online video series, the Geospatial Revolution Project, explores the way geospatial information -- such as geospatial information systems (GIS), global position systems (GPS) and digital mapping -- enhances the lives of individuals as well as the efficiency of institutions such as police departments. Episode Three of the series also focuses on safety, privacy and the use of geospatial technology in warfare and diplomacy.

“A surveillance society is not only inevitable and irreversible, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s irresistible -- and it’s not government doing it to us, it’s us doing it to ourselves,” Jeff Jonas, member of the board of the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation, said. “The more data that is available to us, the more transparent the world becomes.”

The 15-minute episode, which is divided into shorter chapters, explains the challenge of protecting personal privacy while using this technology. Cell phones with geospatial locators can be helpful in an emergency or when lost, but they can also cause harm when they are used against victims of domestic abuse or stalking. The episode identifies the risks that come along with this kind of transparency.

The episode highlights how geospatial technology can help soldiers identify improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and diplomats map human geography to better understand different cultures. Geospatial technology and digital maps were also critical in providing accurate geographic information, which world leaders used in 1995 to redraw borders to help stop the war and mass genocide in Bosnia.

The next episode, to be released on May 3, 2011, will explore agriculture and the environment, mapping disease, and human rights and aid.

Penn State Public Broadcasting, licensed to Penn State, produces non-commercial television, radio and online media. Our public service media programming and complementary outreach materials address important societal issues for Pennsylvania, the nation and the world.

Contacts: 

Christine O'Brien

Last Updated May 20, 2011