Monday, September 26, 2016

New Unit Arms CSP with Data and Analysis to Save Lives

by Chris Wilson, Sr. Crime Analyst
Have you ever wondered how many citations the Colorado State Patrol wrote for driving unsafely around a snowplow? Have you ever considered whether crashes on I-25 increase on days when the Air Force Academy hosts a home football game? Do you know how many citations the Patrol wrote for texting in 2015?

The CAU consists of Chris Wilson (seated), Janet Allbee,
and Brian Eschler (not pictured).
These are just some of the questions that the brand new Crime Analysis Unit has fielded in the last 30 days. The Colorado State Patrol Crime Analysis Unit (CAU) was formally stood up on June 1, 2016, and housed within the Strategic Analysis and Business Research Section under the Staff Services Branch. The CAU is located at CSP headquarters and is composed of Senior Crime Analyst
Chris Wilson, Statistical Analyst Janet Allbee, and Crime Analyst Brian Eschler. Combined, the team has 45 years of analytical experience to assist the Patrol.

The Colorado State Patrol CAU is one of three analytical units in the Patrol (the other two units consist of analysts for the Auto Theft Intelligence Coordination Center and the Colorado Information Analysis Center). The mission of the CSP Crime Analysis Unit is to perform tactical and strategic traffic crash analysis. In other words, we are your “one stop shop” for traffic and crash-related data and information. This includes taking statistics to the next level and providing analysis to drive tactical and strategic decision making. Our goal is to assist troopers, and ultimately the agency, in their goal of reducing injury and fatal crashes and getting impaired drivers off the roads.

What is a typical day in the Crime Analysis Unit? The short answer is there isn’t one! Stakeholders have different data needs from day to day. Some requests take only a few minutes; more in-depth
requests can take a week or longer to produce, depending on the request.

CAU also works with the Business Intelligence Unit and Policy and Research Unit to establish best practices for traffic-related data validation and data quality control, including making system and business process improvement recommendations for how data is collected, retrieved, analyzed and disseminated for the entire agency.

In one of our first projects, CAU implemented a pilot project with Troops 2A and 2B to provide targeted information to see if tactical crash data could assist them in reducing crashes in their areas. CAU started with a five-year analysis of crashes in their areas for the summer quarter, so seasonal variations could be analyzed in depth. Our analysts identifed and shared the top 3 crash locations, along with time of day, day of week, mile post, accident causal factors and more. The goal is for the Troops to then make 60% of their contacts in one of the three high-crash areas to see if the overall crash numbers can be reduced by targeted enforcement. We are just finishing the first quarter of this pilot project, and both summer and fall quarters will be reported out to CSP leadership in December. Our goal is to do this type of tactical analysis for each of the field troops and to automate the reporting process for their weekly statistics.

Another goal for CAU is to launch a Trooper Activity Worksheet to provide individual and team statistics automatically as troopers close contacts, arrests, citations and crashes. This will enable troopers, sergeants and captains to view their individual and troop statistics on closer to a real-time basis.

Other CAU projects include automating current statistical reports, designing a series of dashboards and map visualization tools for field use, and generating maps for tactical field use.

In case you were wondering what the answers were to the questions at the beginning of this article:
• No citations were written for driving unsafely around a snowplow in 2014 and 2015, however one oral warning was given.
• For the last 4 years, there have been 2.4 crashes per weekend day on I25 when there are no AFA home games - when AFA plays a rival team, the crash rate goes up to 4.5 crashes per weekend day.
• In 2015, the Patrol wrote 847 citations for texting while driving.

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