IPN Case Study: Harnessing the Power of GIS to Hunt Down Arsonists


Snapshots of the Bomb Arson Tracking System (BATS)

Snapshots of the Bomb Arson Tracking System (BATS)

In the early 2000s, serial arsonists were destroying parts of the Pacific Northwest, causing significant damage to vital forestry. Without a central repository to input, track, and analyze arson and explosives incident information, the arsonist continued to elude law enforcement officials. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) contracted IPN to develop a solution a case management system to help agents hunt down and apprehend the suspects.


Using a full System Development Lifecycle (SDLC), IPN’s expert geographic information services (GIS) developers built the Bomb Arson Tracking System (BATS). BATS is a web-based case management system that uses GIS capabilities to give state and local arson and explosive investigators up-to-date access to arsonist activity at the local jurisdiction, state, and national level.

As a secure, user-friendly, web-based application, it allows officers to quickly and clearly log information into data entry fields and input information using drop down menus. Agents can search and analyze national data to discover trends, patterns, and leads as well as create a variety of customizable reports. IPN’s work included the development, installation, and maintenance as well as integration with legacy systems. The system was deployed on-time and within budget.


ATF agents logged incident reports and data in BATS, then used the application to spot arsonist activity patterns in their region. Thanks to BATS’ data analysis capabilities, agents ultimately pinned down and arrested the serial arsonist.  

Today, users are able to capture details of explosives and fire cases, including improvised explosive device (IED) components, incendiary devices, origin-and-cause or device placement, suspect information, casualties, dollar losses, fire descriptors, collateral crimes, witness interviews, juvenile fire setters, and descriptions of how a device was delivered.

IPN continues to modernize the software to keep pace with the changing demands of technology. IPN has streamlined the United State Data Center (USBDC) process for tracing explosives by eliminating manual processes, and providing other business analysis and architectural support services that provide return on investment. Further, BATS’ user-friendly interface decreased USBDC training time by 45 minutes.

Since its launch, BATS has become the nation’s repository for arson and explosives incident information. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) adopted the software and has used IPN to implement several GIS technologies across multiple systems. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) followed suit, contracting with IPN to provide their GIS knowledge of security and software architecture. Today, more than 10,000 law enforcement agents and 2,000 inter-agency partners use BATS.