Public Safety
PhillyRising Collaborative

Ralph Brooks Tot lot once represented a petri dish for violent crime in the inner city of Philadelphia, but it now exemplifies the testament of the PhillyRising Collaborative, which has helped reduce crime and revitalize several communities across the city.

The public safety initiative, commissioned by the City of Philadelphia Office of the Managing Director since 2013, has partnered with community members and organizations in 19 of the most distressed neighborhoods in Philadelphia to develop sustainable, responsive and cost-effective solutions to crime and quality of life concerns. PhillyRising divisional coordinators (community organizers) work to strengthen community resources and reprioritize city services to better meet the needs of these neighborhoods.

These efforts have greatly enhanced the once dilapidated lot notorious for thefts and burglaries in the Point Breeze neighborhood. The community now features recreational spaces, including a rehabilitated basketball court, community garden, new stormwater management infrastructure and crime rates are at their lowest since 2006. Local businesses, organizations and 14 government agencies have helped fund the $450,000 in improvements to the area.

“As communities, cities, regions and school districts face incomparable decisions on issues ranging from crime reduction to land use, a growing number of city government leaders are finding new innovative ways to arrive at potential solutions—more responsiveness, participation and transparency,” says Jim Sanders, deputy director of operations for PhillyRising.

This year, the Office of the Managing Director began a collaboration with Philadelphia’s Office of Innovation and Technology, GIS Services Group and Center of Excellence to develop BlockStat, a mobile asset mapping application that enables divisional coordinators to plot community assets and challenges on a map of their neighborhoods.

The city’s Enterprise License Agreement with Esri provides access to the ArcGIS software used to create this application. BlockStat is run through Collector for ArcGIS, a free downloadable platform for Android and iOS. Divisional coordinators use the app on Samsung mobile phones provided as work lines to many city employees.

Providing a hyperlocal approach to the varying issues in Philadelphia’s neighborhood’s – block to block, door to door - enhances the impact of PhillyRising’s public-safety efforts.

“Public safety service delivery models such as the PhillyRising Collaborative, gain insight of citizen issues, and then leads collaborative efforts,” Sanders explains. “The benefits of this approach allows for improved coordination, measurable results and a geographical accountability, making city governments faster, smarter, better.”