How Data Can Influence Public Trust in Agencies

Transparency and accountability are important issues affecting public safety agencies. With the rise of social media and the rapid increase in news sharing, agencies face an unprecedented level of scrutiny.

For example, a poll by Gallup shows public trust in U.S. police dropped from 57% to 52% in recent years and is only now returning to normal levels. This scrutiny, however, presents an opportunity for public safety leaders.

Information about agency successes, challenges, and resources is often sought not only by authorities, but also the public and media. By leveraging an array of accurate, unified data, public safety leaders can easily present stakeholders with facts and reports about initiatives and other vital information. This enables them to build awareness and understanding and be truly transparent within their communities.

Let’s explore four ways data can influence public trust in agencies.

1) Improve public awareness
With richer information, agencies can be more transparent about crime data and statistics, surges in personnel needs, and more. The result is a boost in public awareness and a greater foundation for renewed trust. Agencies can accomplish this by sharing public-facing dashboards and reports.

2) Dispel misconceptions
Gathering facts and presenting them clearly can help counter misconceptions before they become entrenched and cause damage. For example, many people believe crime rates are increasing, but the opposite is true. By publishing this information and delivering insights to the public, politicians, and media, agencies develop a level of transparency built on greater awareness, engagement, and understanding. This ultimately leads to deeper trust among all parties.

3) Secure funding requests
By exploring data and trends, agencies can use facts to justify the need for more personnel and upgraded technology while potentially reducing overtime expenses. Not only do these insights increase potential buy-in for initiatives, policies, and funding requests, they also make the process transparent to the public when data is shared.

4) Strengthen stakeholder relations
Finally, this information allows agencies to demonstrate operational performance and compliance with regulations and mandates through regular reporting and more. An agency’s willingness to share statistics on crime or hot-button issues shows a desire to be candid with stakeholders.

How to uncover the right data
Depending on where an agency is located in the world, some data is required to be shared publicly. However, it’s best to go above and beyond the minimum standard requirements. Begin by asking citizens and stakeholders what information they want to know. By understanding what’s important to a community, agencies can better serve their needs and help to close the reassurance gap.

Additionally, integrating an advanced analytics tool with computer-aided dispatch (CAD) and records management systems (RMS) allows agencies to uncover insights needed to gain support for programs, policies, and priorities. Hexagon’s powerful analytics and reporting suite – HxGN OnCall Analytics – provides accurate, unified data your agency can leverage to cultivate public trust through increased transparency.

Hear how Santa Clara Police Department leveraged agency wide access to consistent data to support policing efforts. Watch the video.

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