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The State-of-the-Art Police Agency: Software (cont'd.)

Written by Jennifer Gavigan

Tiburon Inc.

Tiburon’s solutions for law enforcement include Records Management, Mobile Dispatch, Field Reporting and Integrated Justice. LAW and ORDER spoke with Tiburon Director of Marketing Jean Schommer.

According to Schommer, what most often separates smaller departments from their larger counterparts in terms of information systems deployment is how these solutions are delivered. Vendors that serve the larger clients generally build highly customizable products and employ a business model that caters to matching their products to the business practices of the client. The smaller clients typically can’t fund a tailored system, and it is more practical for the client to modify some of its business practices to match the behavior of a “packaged” solution.

Schommer said virtually nothing from a technological perspective is the same today as it was 10 years ago. XML is a new technology that gives vendors a common structure for sharing data between systems. New companies have been formed in recent years with the sole purpose of facilitating interoperability and data sharing between public agencies.

Schommer said the purchase price of a Tiburon system ranges from $350,000 for a small municipality to $20M+ for a complex, multi-jurisdictional regional solution. The complexity of the system, including the combination of applications deployed, the types of external system interfaces needed, the extent of legacy data conversion required, the level of project support desired and the network topology specified are what dictate the ultimate cost.

Tiburon’s products improve the efficiency of the various business units of the clients. They do this by improving the accuracy of information, improving the speed users and consumers can get useful information, expanding accessibility to information, applying analytic tools to a broader set of data, enhancing reporting and statistical options, and improving overall communications and intelligence for every branch of an agency.

Tiburon does not directly assist clients with grant applications; however, it does recommend several experienced consultants who specialize in grant preparation and submission.

TriTech Software Systems

TriTech Software Systems’ sole focus is the development of multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional public safety software solutions. Integrated solutions include computer-aided dispatch, mobile data, and records management systems for agencies worldwide. LAW and ORDER spoke with TriTech Marketing Director Tyler Riddell.

VisiCAD Command™ is a computer-aided dispatch solution for single or multiple agencies with its integration to TriTech’s mobile data and law enforcement records management systems. This product captures all major data points throughout each call to provide comprehensive data immediately to officers in the field. VisiNet Law RMS™ combines emerging technologies with proven experience to help law enforcement agencies fight crime, solve cases, and protect the community.

VisiNet Browser™ combines the power of the integrated VisiCAD Command solution with the Internet, to provide the client remote desktop access to mission critical information. Whether at headquarters, a substation, a fire station or out in the field, public safety personnel have secure, real-time access to administrative and operational views of their organization.

VisiNet Mobile™ operates on commercial wireless networks, as well as any private TCP / IP-based systems. It operates on a variety of wireless platforms and provides FIPS 140-2 compliant access to mission-critical information while out in the field. Field personnel have the ability to make on-scene decisions that enhance safety and improve operational efficiency through secure, real-time access to CAD, RMS, CJIS and other public / proprietary databases.

According to Riddell, TriTech has helped clients secure grant funding on a few occasions. The company provides a monthly report for free, called “Eyes on the Market.” According to Riddell, the technology will work only if the people using it are properly trained and onboard.

Universal Mind

Universal Mind’s Internet applications for an agency include high-speed data visualizations and advanced geographic information systems. LAW and ORDER spoke with Mike Connor, Universal Mind’s VP of business development.

SpatialKey is a new class of IT and budgetary solutions for law enforcement agencies. It is an interactive dashboard that provides officers with an “at a glance” view of crime and operational information that is accessible through a Web-based application.

SpatialKey takes advantage of leading-edge Internet technologies unavailable 10 years ago, such as rich Internet application (RIA) and Web 2.0 capabilities. These technologies give agencies the ability to create easy-to-use interfaces that integrate information from multiple sources. Additionally, SpatialKey uses advanced techniques to visually and interactively present information via a map-based context, like heat maps, that indicate the density of crime or operational activities.

Connor said SpatialKey is sold based on agency and population served. For agencies serving populations less than 25,000, the costs will likely be under $15,000. For larger agencies, costs are not likely to be more than $100,000. These are first-year costs and include the professional services fees to implement the software, as well as license fees and support and maintenance. SpatialKey falls under a number of federal grants because of the broad range of information and information sharing it supports.

According to Connor, the base system of SpatialKey provides most of the information options an agency would need. It provides access to the RMS / CAD information and enables organizations to upload custom information sets from spreadsheets and other sources.

USA Software Inc.

USA Software provides software solutions to law enforcement agencies of all sizes that need help managing information and improving communications. LAW and ORDER spoke with USA Software’s founder and president, F.A. “Woody” Spencer Jr.

USA Software’s sales and training personnel include retired police officers familiar with the daily operations of an agency. The CrimeFile 2000® suite of programs includes: CadFile 2000®, CrimeFile 2000®, IAFile 2000®, JailFile 2000®, MobileFile 2000®, PhotoFile 2000® and the barcode-based EvidenceFile 2000®.

CrimeFile IMS uses the latest technology and offers system modules to provide up-to-the-minute access to all agency data. A modular approach allows the agency to configure the system to meet its specific needs without purchasing software it doesn’t want or need.

With the mobile data system, officers can write their reports in the field rather than having to spend time at the station after their shift ends. This reduces overtime, provides for more accurate reporting, and reinforces a police presence in the community. And because the report can be filed immediately, all the pertinent information gets into the system sooner, which helps speed up crime analysis and leads to a safer community.

Depending on functionality, systems range from $10,000 for a basic records management system up to $1 million for a complete CAD / RMS / mobile system for a larger agency. Agencies can start with one module or 50 and add new functions as funds become available. Included in the price are professional services such as installation, project management, and training. USA Software also offers an annual software support and maintenance agreement that typically runs from 15% to 20% of the software price and includes upgrades, new versions and 24/7 tech support.

In an effort to lend support to those clients applying for a grant, USA Software provides them with a proposal explaining the functionality of their software. Because USA Software’s systems are modular, Spencer says commanders have the flexibility to prioritize, choosing only those modules they absolutely need and then include additional modules in their next annual budget.

VisionAIR

The VisionAIR® Public Safety Suite® consists of applications that provide core functionality for mission critical public safety responsibilities. LAW and ORDER spoke with VisionAIR Senior Product Manager Mark Tanner. VisionAIR’s Public Safety Suite includes VisionCAD (Computer-Aided Dispatch); VisionFBR (Field Based Reporting); VisionFIRE (Fire Management); VisionFORCE (Handheld Information Solution); VisionGIS (Geographic Information System); VisionINFORM (Web-based solution); VisionJAIL (Inmate Management); Vision LMS (Learning Management System); VisionMOBILE: FIRE and VisionMOBILE: LAW (Mobile Data Systems); and VisionRMS (Records Management System).

According to Tanner, regardless of size, the basic requirement needs of an agency are very similar. Tanner recommends an agency first estimate its calls-for-service levels. This can be accomplished based on the population of the jurisdiction served and some demographical information. Next, agencies should determine the budget for the communications infrastructure. Evaluate the communications options for mobile units.

Tanner believes a person who is familiar with procedures within a manual 9-1-1 center could be expected to be proficient on the CAD system within 90 to 120 days. An experienced officer would have an operational proficiency with a mobile application within 30 days, depending on how many shifts fell into the range.

VisionAIR’s software includes the seamless integration between CAD, Map, RMS, Mobile Data, Jail and more to promote data sharing, reduce duplicate data entry, and increase accuracy of data. The software also interfaces to popular third-party products, and it is an open system. More features include the availability of state reporting, NIBRS / UCR reporting, true ad-hoc reporting and DOJ Global Justice XML enabled.

VisionAIR’s maintenance contracts provide the client with a continuous upgrade and growth path. VisionAIR tracks many federal, state grants and offers assistance to client agencies in understanding the process and availability of these.

As shown, numerous software applications for the public safety market exist today. Just as in other areas, agencies must first evaluate their needs and determine their goals before choosing a software solution. Advanced technology in software can help a department turn into a state-of-the-art facility to better protect and serve its community.

Jennifer Gavigan has been writing for LAW and ORDER Magazine for more than five years, providing readers with cutting-edge software, communication and technology information. She can be reached at jengavigan@comcast.net.

Published in Law and Order, Nov 2008

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