Monday, March 10, 2008

Follow up from visits

Last September, we had a visit from the Council Bluffs, Iowa Police Department. They were here to have a look at our use of computer monitors to improve our information flow during our roll call (we call it lineup). Council Bluffs Police Capt. Terry LeMaster emailed me last week with an update. They have installed equipment and changed their roll calls to incorporate computer and video content. He sent a photo:

We also had a November visit from a Topeka Police Department delegation that even brought along a news crew. I got a follow-up email from Capt. Ron Brown last week, too:
"Hi Chief! I have included some stats to show how our initiative is going. Crime is going the right direction as you can see. We have started a Chief’s Youth Advisory Council modeled after yours and it is VERY successful. Thanks for the idea. The young folks are very engaged and providing valuable insight. Capt. Stanley has taken on your roll call room as a model and is working on flat screen TVs and computer link ups for our roll call room. Thanks again for the great information and assistance; it did not fall on deaf ears!"
In January, we hosted another visit from the Tulsa Police Department. Officer Will Dalsing, Capt. Travis Yates, and Major Daryl Webster were in Lincoln as part of a project to visit several cities to get a feel for how they use data, information, and crime analysis. Their trip to Lincoln was to observe one of our ACUDAT meetings.

We always benefit from these site visits. It's a great opportunity to share ideas, learn what others are doing, and in some ways to compare yourself to the field and gauge how you're doing. This week, three members of my staff will be in Atlanta at the meeting of the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.


Prairie Dog said...

Yes, we all have read about how great the ACUDAT computer system really is. (and those stories are all true) Usefull records management beyond a filing cabinet is always a breakthrough for law enforcement.

However, it is my understanding of the comments from officers that I meet that the information available from the police cars can sometimes be too time consuming or the system is simply down.

My point is that with the demands of having a powerful ACUDAT system there is a standard of speed that many will expect to be transferred and available to them in their cars. Not having that speed will cause many to loose faith in a system because it is not the same as a hard wired in house pc. Technology is great but the advancement of the same makes us whiners when it doesn;t work because we are too reliant upon it.

What efforts is LPD making to upgrade the street or car level laptops for speed and efficency?

Tom Casady said...

Prairie dog-

Our mobile computers are used primarily low-bandwidth content: dispatch information, messaging, and short inquiries into NCIS. We do, however, let officers access a rather small subset of our Records Management System: such as flags on wanted persons, short lists of recent stolen autos, plates & registrations, and (if you're patient) thumbnail mugshots. For better access, though, you've got to find a broadband-connected computer at HQ, one of our ten substations, or some other location.

For the time being, we run our mobile applications on our own radio system. The big issue for us is bandwidth. We've upgraded the most recent two model-years to a slightly faster data protocol, OpenSky, but it's still nowhere close to broadband. Heck of a lot better then what the vast majority of agencies have access to, though. The backup of voice is always there.

Wireless data will do nothing but get better as time goes on. You can get some very nice speeds for our applications from a commercial air card, but the cost is beyond our reach right now.

Mobile workers in all fields are increasingly expecting the same kind of throughput on their wireless computers that they are used to getting on their desktop connection at the office. While the technology is improving, it's just not there yet. Remember when the 2400 baud dial-up modem and Prodigy was state-of-the-art?

Anonymous said...

If you were to make an educated guess, how many years will it be before a fingerprint can be scanned at the cruiser level, and quickly compared to a national database, (such as the IAFIS) for warrants across the nation? Would this require more wireless bandwidth than is currently available to most LE agencies, or have there recently been some improvements made in compressing the print data, or maybe reducing the quantity of data that needs to be compressed and transmitted?

Anonymous said...

We use Verizon air cards, which work pretty well for the most part. But at peak hours, you can just forget about it. If the cellular network traffic is high. There are dead spots, too, where the connection drops out just like on a cell phone.

Anonymous said...

I think the complaints that Prairie Dog probably heard about were more towards the fact that all of the MDT's go down at once weekly for several hours and that if you have an issue with an individual MDT then it usually takes a few weeks to get it fixed.

True though that we are spoiled by the technology and really miss it when it is down. We've all heard from the old guys about how they had to walk the beat uphill both ways in the snow without a radio and were darn glad to do it, but sometimes it would be much less aggravating to be without it entirely than to only have it sometimes.

Anonymous said...

Sounds just like my Road Runner connection.