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San Diego Pilot Curbs Graffiti

Taking pictures of graffiti with GPS-enabled cameras and uploading them into a database has proven successful.

Graffiti can become a blight on almost any urban area if left unchecked, and it can be difficult to catch those responsible for the vandalism. Thanks to an ongoing county-wide pilot program pairing technology with cross-agency partnerships, the city of San Diego and the surrounding area is putting a stop to it.

The San Diego County Multi-Discipline Abatement Program uses a software called Graffiti Tracker to document and later convict repeat graffiti artists. Members of law enforcement or public works take pictures of the graffiti with GPS-enabled cameras and upload them into a database.

The pictures are then analzyed for initials or other common features and later used when vandals are caught in the act to link them to past incidences. So far the program has cost $346,800, split by the 13 cities and agencies involved in the pilot. The program has already turned a profit since convictions and the resulting court-ordered restitutions have jumped from $170,626 in 2010 to $783,412 last year.

Brian Peteritas is a GOVERNING contributor.
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