FAIRMONT — Fairmont is the most recent municipality to get connected to a new web portal that instantly puts crime information at residents’ fingertips.
Last week, the town’s Department of Public Safety went online with MapNimbus, a software developed by Geographic Technologies Group that takes information from law enforcement agencies and plots it on a map that can be viewed for free by anyone with Internet.
The software uses a Google Maps interface and gives users access to information about crimes that have occurred in the county and the location of registered sex offenders. To access it, visit www.mapnimbus.com and type in any address in the town you wish to view.
Icons appearing on the map represent different types of crime. Dor example, the silhouette of a house broken into two pieces signifies a break-in or burglary, a fist identifies an assault; and a money bag signals a larceny.
Clicking on an icon will bring up information about the offense, including the date and time it occurred and a number so that users can get the incident report from the agency.
According to Fairmont Public Safety Chief Danny Parker, the information for a call goes to the site as soon as an officer completes the report electronically from his patrol car.
“We report everything. We report every call that an officer goes to,” Parker said. “The great part of it is, you can actually search what’s going on within 500 feet of your home and you can get notifications on it.”
Those notifications come in the form of email or text messages, which users can subscribe to.
“If they’re at work or on vacation and something happens near their home, they get notifications about it,” Parker said. “They can kind of have some peace of mind.”
Fairmont joins the Sheriff’s Office and Lumberton Police Department in using the program.
According to Randall Graham, an internal affairs investigator for the Sheriff’s Office who spearheaded the software’s launch in Robeson County last year, the program is paid for from part of a $6.5 million grant the Juvenile Violence Prevention Center received from the Center for Academic Excellence at The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.
The installation of the program costs $250, and the first year’s subscription is $1,200, Graham said. The Center for Academic Excellence paid for both, and at the end of the first year, will examine the software’s success and determine the extent to which it will continue funding it.
Because each individual law enforcement agency that uses it must pay for the installation and subscription, Graham said he wanted to bring the police departments on board under the Sheriff’s Office subscription.
“It’s very user friendly. And I’m telling you now, if I can do it, there’s not a person in this town that can’t do it,” Mayor Charles Kemp said. “If those who have computers use it and will come to Community Watch, they will be able to give feedback to the Police Department saying, ‘Look, your MapNimbus program is showing there’s a lot of crime in our neighborhood. What are you doing to address that?’”
Parker will provide a demonstration of the program and answer questions about it, as well as give an overview of Fairmont’s crime in 2011, at today’s Community Watch at 7 p.m. in the Town Hall courtroom.
“I’d just encourage the citizens of Fairmont to take advantage of something that’s free and online, and they can view from the privacy of their own home,” he said. “… I can’t get the word out enough.”