If the subject of Community Safety and Well-being (CSWB) hasn’t been on your radar yet, it soon will be. One of the requirements of Bill 175 is for municipalities to develop CSWB plans. While the responsibility for this falls to the municipalities to develop, we have all recognized the need to collaborate with community partners across sectors in order to realize meaningful and sustainable change. With this also comes the need to leverage the data in our systems to identify priorities and opportunities as well as to measure outcomes.
From April 23 to 25, 2018, The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, together with the Government of Saskatchewan and the Saskatoon Police, hosted a conference on Open Analytics for Community Safety and Well-Being, in order to share emerging trends and discuss best practices on this important topic.
Many of our police services participate in Connectivity / Hub / Situation Tables where service providers come together to identify those in the community who are in situations of acutely elevated risk and to develop a cross-sector plan to assist those people. The implementation of the Tables marked a significant shift in the way police and community partners work together and share information. The Open Analytics for CSWB conference looked at what happens beyond the Tables with regards to data and community well-being.
Our ability to effect change in CSWB hinges on two things:
- Having good data in our systems in order to make good decisions
- Our ability to share that data with our partners so we can all see the bigger picture and make good decisions together
While these criteria probably resonate with all law enforcement planners, one presenter noted that a study of police systems found that only 36% of systems in policing are connected and that most of that is in CAD and RMS systems. This finding will also likely resonate with law enforcement planners! Clearly, we have a long way to go to improving our systems.
Organizations that seem to have their data systems and sharing processes in order have been able to do some great things by way of community safety and well-being. Some interesting approaches to addressing CSWB across Canada that were mentioned at the conference include:
- City of Edmonton’s Crisis Diversion Team – https://reachedmonton.ca/public/24-7-Crisis-Diversion-Team
- Halton’s Community Safety and Wellbeing Plan – http://www.halton.ca/living_in_halton/community_safety_and_well_being_in_halton/
- Toronto’s Urban HEART (Health Equity Assessment and Response Tool) – http://www.torontohealthprofiles.ca/urbanheartattoronto.php
- Community Informed Suicide Prevention apps (Google it – it’s a thing!)
Even if your organization doesn’t have fully integrated data systems and information sharing processes in place, you can still ‘build the plane as you fly it’, keeping in mind some key considerations:
- Stay “solutions focused”
- Consider “privacy by design” and “sharing by design”
- Ensure you and your partners are speaking the same language
- And remember that “a decision made without data is just an opinion”
Waterloo Regional Police Service