The partnership between E•SPONDER®, a St. Louis-based leader in incident management software, and the Tampa, FL Police Department is a good example of how industry leaders and agencies can collaborate to develop crime-fighting solutions that give police more bang for their buck.
Working in conjunction with the Tampa Police, E•SPONDER leveraged its incident management software to deliver a day-to-day solution that tracks and visualizes criminal activity, streamlines information sharing among personnel, and reduces time spent manually researching crime trends.
“What really led us to E•SPONDER was the fact that they are a pliable solution,” said Assistant Chief John Bennett. “Essentially after 9/11, I think most mid- to large-size agencies were looking for new technology to assist with emergency management and homeland security. We felt that E•SPONDER was pliable enough to mold it around what we needed to do.”
The Tampa Police were already using E•SPONDER’s incident management solution for more than 800 events each year, including things like the Super Bowl, parades and other large-scale events. Police officials provided invaluable input and knowledge to E•SPONDER on how to further advance the central command functionality and benefit the daily needs of law enforcement.
“In our case, we were using special events as our testing ground,” Bennett said. “We could predict the fact that we had special events. We would treat that like our Petri dish for responding to things in a planned way.”
Bennett explained that using the technology for large-scale planned events helps officers know what to do “on game day” when an unplanned disaster such as a hurricane or terrorist attack occurs. To take it a step further and integrate the technology into daily activities just made sense.
“Chief [Jane] Castor had an internal mandate that we don’t want to buy solutions that will just sit on the shelf,” Bennett said. “We want something that we can try to incorporate into daily use. It’s a win-win for the taxpayers.”
Tampa took federal dollars that were designated for homeland security and emergency preparedness, and Bennett said the agency is now “squeezing more out of those dollars” to fight crime locally. Officials are working with E•SPONDER and developing a prototype that will lead to faster crime solving and improved public safety.
“It is a daily use tool that expands across multiple silos,” said Robert Wolf, the president and CEO of E•SPONDER. “We’re seeing a shift in the acceptance of technology’s role in this space.”
Bennett said another reason for collaborating with E•SPONDER is that the agency is fearing that amid the economic downturn, its ability to continue to reduce crime will be limited compared to previous years.
“We’ve had some phenomenal success in crime reduction in the past seven years,” he said. “We’ve seen over a 50 percent crime reduction. The concern now is that every year we’ve got to come up with some move to take another slice at crime.”
Chief Castor’s vision was to leverage and develop the E•SPONDER technology to take the agency’s crime reduction to the next level.
The application takes full advantage of E•SPONDER’s information-sharing capabilities to promote intelligence sharing among front-line officers, detectives and supervisors. Like all E•SPONDER solutions, the application utilizes Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 to provide a familiar, intuitive interface that requires minimal training to implement.
“The other real key element is the ease of use,” Wolf said. “We did that purposely to allow the users to be able to look at the screen and just get it. We think that gives us a pretty good advantage.”
E•SPONDER technology was recently highlighted at the Microsoft Worldwide Public Safety Symposium for its unique approach to helping Tampa Police increase officer efficiency.
“Within the prototype, officers will be able to visualize data in a much faster way,” Wolf said. “Of course, they have the CAD or the 9-1-1 dispatch available to them. What we’re now being able to provide is a daily situational report. That will begin to breed a library of data that officers can use.”
Wolf said historically there has been a lag between CAD and record management systems. E•SPONDER is trying to fill that gap. He gives the example of an auto burglary. Immediately after a burglary has been reported, officers will be able to see a map on the screen in their vehicles of other recent and not-so-recent burglaries. They will be able to see recently released criminals and other information immediately that will help them solve and prevent crimes. “The intention and the focus are to get that data in the officers’ hands faster than they can usually do it,” Wolf said.
The flexibility of the SharePoint Server 2007 foundation is also what allows the solution to adapt to the unique day-to-day needs of law enforcement. Users can customize the system to receive and manage information based on the goals of their agency.
The applications used for daily crime fighting are still in the prototype phase, but Wolf hopes the technology will be ready to roll out and package for other agencies by this summer. E•SPONDER Suite of Products
The E•SPONDER product family provides a range of capabilities for the first response community, from the individual agency to the complexity of multi-agency, multi-regional response planning and collaboration. The software comes with add-ons, E•SPONDER Alerts and E•SPONDER Mapping. E•SPONDER Alerts provides a notification and alerting capability that enables two-way communication to thousands of people and can be triggered automatically as part of a workflow or on demand as needed. E•SPONDER Mapping provides agencies with a comprehensive situational awareness tool using geographic information system (GIS) technology.
E•SPONDER’s core business offering began as a wireless, landline and IP telephony consulting company. In May 2008, the company officially changed its name to E•SPONDER LLC to better reflect the new focus and customer base.Candy Phelps is a freelance writer and the former managing editor of Public Safety IT Magazine. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.