This article was first published in the Summer 2014 issue of Touch
What tools have police officers been used to?
Chief Mike Diekhoff, Bloomington Police: Previously, we ran time-consuming paper processes that prevented our police officers from seeing all information at all times. Crime is changing and if policing doesn’t change with it, then we’re going to struggle to solve new types of crime. In my agency, we put computers in police cars 20 years ago, but we’ve recently looked at different ways to use technology to allow us to get the right information in the hands of the officers and to make them more efficient.
Why might some organisations be cautious when considering new solutions?
Diekhoff: Security is perhaps the biggest concern. Law enforcement agencies have to work with a lot of confidential data, and the storage and sharing of this is protected by various laws in our state. Also, when you consider that the average police department is not very large, budgets are limited on how much they can spend on technology.
Tell us about NC4 Street Smart.
Rob Wolf, vice president for public safety and emergency management, NC4: Built on Microsoft SharePoint 2013, SQL Server 2012 and Esri’s geospatial technology, NC4 Street Smart allows frontline officers to better share information across the department. It acts as a forum for users to share unstructured information and ideas that aren’t normally accessible to other people, and that’s combined with the structured data, like reports and crime history, enabling quicker and more efficient crime solving.
Explain the implementation at Bloomington Police.
Diekhoff: Two years ago I reviewed our crime statistics closely. The town is home to 40,000 university students, and where crime was dropping elsewhere in the country, ours was either staying the same or increasing. So I started looking at how we operated. We built a new dispatch centre and while we implemented a new records management system, we still struggled to share information. We have over 100 police officers that work shifts 24/7 and we found they just weren’t getting the same accurate information.
I was invited to see how the Tampa Police Department was already using NC4 Street Smart and I instantly knew it was the perfect solution. We’ve had the solution running for around two months now and we have completely eliminated paper processes. For the first time in my 27 years as a police officer, we have everybody accessing the same information, and we’ve already had successes solving some crimes. I haven’t ever seen my officers this excited about a piece of software. If a technology isn’t easy to use, cops simply won’t use it! NC4 Street Smart is a key piece of software that has ultimately made crime fighting easier for us. We don’t let anything slip through the cracks anymore.
Wolf: No other solution combines unstructured and structured data in this way. Plus, we have spent a lot of time understanding our customers and their needs, so the solution is easy to use for police officers while out in the field. When the cops are able to collaborate in this way, there’s no place for the criminals to hide.
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