Center for Environmental Science Applications (CESA)

Finding solutions to sustainability challenges by linking ideas, people and resources


Urban sustainability strategies typically use innovative technologies to provide citizens with clean air and water, energy-efficient transportation, employment and housing. But sustainable cities must also meet social needs for educational attainment, public health and public safety. Over the past five years, ASU has been promoting dialogue among leaders in law enforcement and information technology about new methods to reduce crime and increase public safety in cities. One goal has been to encourage statewide sharing of crime data. Another has been to use visualization tools to help police departments anticipate where future crimes are likely to occur, and communication protocols to convey this information to the public.

CESA has played a crucial convening role, bringing together dozens of faculty and community leaders to discuss these issues. In 2009 these efforts expanded to California, when George Gascon, the former chief law enforcement officer of Mesa, Arizona took over as Chief of the San Francisco Police Department. Gascon invited our involvement in the development of new crime-fighting tools in partnership with Oracle, CH2M HILL, and NASA Ames Research Center. Gascon, who is a national leader in the integration of IT and criminology, has been collaborating with Luc Anselin on a large grant awarded by the National Institute of Justice.

The group of faculty members with which CESA is exploring these public safety issues includes Luc Anselin and Serge Rey in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning; Scott Decker, Chuck Katz, and Michael White in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice; and George Basile and Robert Pahle in the Decision Theater. They are joined by law enforcement officers and experts from around the state of Arizona. IBM has also been helping police departments in Arizona, building on partnerships they've developed in other parts of the U.S., including a large effort in New York City.