Monday, March 7, 2011

LA employs new database to track graffiti vandals

LOS ANGELES — Authorities are creating a database that will be used to store photographs of graffiti vandalism, enabling investigators to track hot spots where such activity is on the rise, they announced Friday.

The city currently spends $10 million a year cleaning up graffiti, and last year painted over 31 million square feet of vandalized surfaces.

Clean-up crews are being equipped with smart phones and told they must photograph any graffiti they are going to remove.

The images, which include GPS coordinates and date and time information, are sent to the database. Investigators will then use the data to track any graffiti crews or individual taggers.

The images can be also used as evidence in court, or police can deploy extra officers to an area that has been hit hard.

The new system is being deployed in four police divisions, but eventually will be used across the city.

Officials from Orange County, where the tracking system was pioneered, credited the approach to leading to more than 700 arrests last year.

City Attorney Carmen Trutanich said the technology would be invaluable in catching elusive graffiti vandals, whose work is hard to miss but who are seldom seen.

"They are like baby pigeons," Trutanich said. "You know they exist, but you just don’t see them."

Taken from: Boston Herald

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