Thursday, December 20, 2012

Not that way everywhere

A rather common theme on my blog is information technology and information resources.  I have often asserted that Lincoln police officers have access to more information at their fingertips than any police department I have ever seen, anywhere. As a result, they can be more productive--and safer.

Many of our officers don't even realize how good we have it in this regard.  If you haven't worked at (or closely with) a few other agencies, you may not understand what par for the course looks like in much of the rest of the law enforcement world. This editorial column in the Sunday edition of the New York Times is worth a read, not so much for the proposed solution as for the first-hand description of the problem by an outside observer: a law student accustomed to 21st century information technology who spent a semester rubbing shoulders with police officers.

While the author provides a nice description of the antiquated workflow for criminal cases, he's only seeing part of the picture: it's even worse in some respects, then the convoluted process he has witnessed.  By comparison, we live in a veritable Tom Cruise movie: well, maybe sans the transparent data wall navigated with hand gestures--for the moment.

Although I enjoyed the author's description, I also think he oversimplifies the solution.  As much as I love my iPads, and have advoacted for their value in policing, it's not the hardware so much as the information systems that really matters.  I don't care if you access it on a mobile data computer in a patrol car, a Windows desktop, an Android, iOS, or Blackberry tablet or phone, or on a VT100 terminal: it's the information that matters, and easy access to it by the people who really can use it to get the job done.

By the way, after spending a few minutes a couple weeks ago in a Microsoft store with a Surface tablet running Windows 8 RT, the near-term future of mobile computing in police and fire service is starting to come into focus for me. We shall see, when the Windows 8 Pro version arrives in early 2013.


Pastor Fuller said...

Now, if we can just get one of those devices to spurt out a signal to extinguish fires! :<)

Anonymous said...

The NYT editorial was interesting. Computers can be an efficient tool if used properly. However at times I think SOME bureaucrats use them as a way to insulate their self from the public and avoid having to answer questions. Back in the old days phone tag was the way these faceless bureaucrats played that game. Computers have just made it easier for them to avoid us.

Gun Nutbuestsd 1625

Anonymous said...

Many departments buy technology products without having any clue of what their RMS is or how to plan for it. A million dollar computer is useless if you don't have data IN it that you can use.

Tom Casady said...


Huge "amen" on that point!