Notre Dame students now will be able to track campus crime patterns faster and more efficiently than ever before, using a digital mapping service that updates automatically. Notre Dame Security Police (NDSP) recently launched a subscription with CrimeReports, a mapping service that tracks crimes in a user-designated area. NDSP Crime Prevention Officer Keri Kei Shibata said this new mapping service will be a valuable tool for members of the Notre Dame community. “The more information people have, the more they are able to make good decisions about how to live safely and what kind of safeguards to take,” Shibata said. “I think it’s good for the public.” NDSP Director Phil Johnson said the previous method of providing crime-tracking information students was done manually, and the information was released less often. “We would send you a safety beat each month,” he said. “We plotted the crime data onto a map. Now this will happen on an automatic interface that is routinely available quickly.” Shibata said one benefit of the program is students can register for free with the website and customize “neighborhoods” with geographic areas on campus they want to receive crime updates about. “What a ‘neighborhood’ does is it lets me see alerts about the crimes that I am interested in,” she said. “So if I want to only want to know about thefts in my residence hall, I can set it for the area around my residence hall and it will send me an email whenever a theft in my residence hall gets posted.” In addition to recognizing possible particular areas on campus where certain crimes such as theft may occur often, Johnson said he hopes NDSP may receive more tips as students become more aware of criminal activity on campus. “You may see something on here that you have information about and you contact us because you now know you have information about a reported crime,” he said. Shibata said the program’s launch has been in the works for a year. She said information from NDSP’s reporting system is pulled directly by CrimeReports daily at midnight. This information is then plotted using Google Maps. “I think it is more user-friendly,” she said. “Rather than going to a line of text, it is more visual.” Shibata said an additional benefit of the program is it releases information in a timely, accurate manner. “We may sometimes receive more information that changes the classification of a crime, and that will update on a map,” she said. Johnson said CrimeReports, which provides crime-plotting information for the United States and internationally, is also in the process of being launched by the South Bend Police Department. He said this would be a valuable information source for those who live off campus. “We think an informed campus constituency is safer,” Johnson said. “In particular for our South Bend faculty, staff, and students, if you hear a rumor about something happening in your neighborhood, you can look at the map and see nothing happened.” Rather than replacing any notification methods, Johnson said he views CrimeReports as a supplementary source of safety information. He said NDSP will continue to send out serious crime alerts as mandated by federal law through emergency messaging and ND Alert, the student notification system. “This is just one more tool in our communications resources to help us keep the community informed of what is happening and to help the community be aware of crimes so they can take steps to protect themselves,” Johnson said.
U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman came to Georgia Friday to view the harsh effects of floods and freezes on Georgia agriculture. But he saw much more. Glickman expanded his Georgia visit to include the University of Georgia campus and the Richard B. Russell Agricultural Research Center because “Georgia is clearly a food safety leader.” The UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences has the largest collection of food safety researchers in the country. Advances in food safety and sanitation issues depend on strong research in food science and other related areas. Yet the dollars for research are going down, Glickman said. “President Clinton made a powerful case for support of research for health issues,” Glickman said. “Everyone understands research into cancer. They know this research can improve their lives. ” But people don’t know or understand that link between agricultural research and their lives,” he said. “Even with all the work on genetic engineering, technology and ways of feeding the world, people just don’t see any relationship of what is being done in agricultural research to the average American. It affects everybody’s lives, not just farmers.” The one area with big increases in funding, Glickman said, is food safety. “And that’s because kids died from E. coli,” he said. Glickman spoke out in favor of the President’s $101 million initiative for better meat and poultry inspection, consumer education, risk assessment and surveillance. “A big chunk of that $101 million is for an educational campaign for consumers,” Glickman said, “It would be a big mistake not to realize this is a farm-to-home issue. The consumer has a great deal to do with his or her own food safety.” Although consumers must understand how to properly prepare and cook foods, the food processing industry is primarily responsible for producing safe food, the secretary said. USDA closed down two dozen plants short-term last year because they didn’t comply with food safety and contamination rules. “I call it the atomic bomb of authority,” Glickman said. “I can shut down a plant. But that puts people out of work. I’d rather have the power to fine and the authority to order mandatory recall. I can only ask. “The Consumer Product Safety Commission can recall toys, but we can’t recall bad food. You can draw your own conclusions from that.” Even with these limits, Glickman said, this country has the safest food safety system in the world. When Asian markets plummeted from fear of influenza from poultry and Europeans cut back on beef during the mad cow disease scare, American shoppers showed no signs of fear. “Consumers have confidence in the American food supply,” Glickman said. “Producers know if consumers have confidence, they will continue to buy.”