Today’s law enforcement personnel are on the front lines of public safety issues, responding to emergency situations, confronting criminals, and keeping the public safe. Officers need reliable, automated public safety solutions to capture, manage and share information efficiently.
New technology is emerging in the area of software, which includes computer-aided dispatch (CAD), records management systems (RMS) and field reporting. Departments nationwide are upgrading their existing facilities to reflect this new technology. Some solutions may be more ideal for the smaller size agency (50 to 100 officers) while others might fit a larger department (500 to 1,000 officers). However, some companies offer software solutions that fit any size department. Below is a look at some major software companies and the products they recommend to create an ultra-modern agency. CODY Systems
CODY Systems specializes in integrated solutions and interoperable data sharing. CODY serves agencies of all sizes at the local, county, state and federal level as well as county- and region-wide data-sharing systems. LAW and ORDER spoke with CODY Vice President Dave Heffner.
The CODY Integrated Public Safety Suite is an information-management system that allows an agency to reliably cross-reference, link, dispatch, analyze and provide flexible reporting of data captured from a variety of sources (including mobile and handhelds), locations and jurisdictions. It features integrated and interoperable secure modules with an emphasis on eliminating redundant data entry. These software modules include: CODY Records™, CODY Dispatch™, CODY Mobile 7™, CODY Investigations™, CODY Administrator™, CODY C.O.B.R.A. ™ plus optional modules.
CODY Records is a comprehensive records management software module that features an intuitive interface that allows users to access all relevant data regarding any system record (names, incidents, vehicles, businesses, visitors, fleet maintenance) in real time and in one work space.
CODY Dispatch is an integrated critical incident response and dispatch command software module. It can dispatch, manage and track a variety of equipment and personnel, as well as recommend manpower and equipment allocations for emergency situations based on agency-defined profiles.
CODY Mobile 7 is an integrated field-reporting and dispatch-link software module for mobile and remote units. Mobile gives field units real-time read / write access to the central CODY database and is seamlessly integrated with CODY Records and Dispatch.
CODY Investigations is both a management tool and a data-mining and analysis system; it tracks all aspects of a case, including subjects, vehicles, property, AND businesses. Management functions include enhanced security protocols, follow-up alerts, investigative reports, scheduling, and tracking.
CODY C.O.B.R.A. is a suite of software applications that enable agencies to join together and share data, regardless of what disparate systems / databases they each have, in a secure manner, and analyze this shared information to provide real-time, immediately useful data to detectives and officers on the street.
Denali Solutions provides scalable, interoperable information management systems that can adapt to and integrate with emerging technologies, as well as the unique information management requirements of law enforcement. LAW and ORDER spoke with Denali President and CEO Kalyn Sims.
According to Sims, when agencies pool their resources and implement a multi-agency system, they can experience savings in system implementation costs, software license fees, annual operating costs and IT support resources. The ability to share time-critical crime data between jurisdictions is even more valuable.
Denali’s inPURSUIT Public Safety Suite includes Records Management, Jail Management, Field Based Reporting, Crime Analysis GIS and Reporting, which are essential to the success of an integrated system implementation in a large, complex multi-agency environment.
Critical functions of Denali’s Records Management System solution include Web-based access to the RMS core modules for remote users. The multi-agency design enables agencies to share the same RMS, maintain autonomy, and still benefit from sharing selected categories of crime data.
EmergiTech™ focuses exclusively on developing law enforcement software products. Its product suite includes Automatic Vehicle Location; Civil Processing; Computer-Aided Dispatch; Field Reporting; Jail Management; Mapping; Mobile; Mug Shot Imaging; and Records Management.
EmergiTech recommends that an agency begin by answering some key questions: What software products will be needed? What budget is available to procure these software products? EmergiTech can meet all of their various product needs.
Costs vary, but they are usually dependent upon agency needs. Costs can include initial investment in software licenses, network and infrastructure setup (routers, wiring), software maintenance and upgrade packages, and keeping work station operating systems updated.
User learning and training time is dependent upon what products are selected and the proficiency level of the users. A typical user can be expected to become proficient in the use of a given EmergiTech software application within one week of consistent use.
EmergiTech offers a scalable solution. An agency can start with one product (like CAD) and add each successive software component as its needs change. EmergiTech’s products can grow with an agency as it increases in size, functionality and responsibility. EmergiTech can also assist in the grant-writing process. Overall, EmergiTech recommends that an agency select software that best fulfills its product, budgetary and service needs.
FATPOT® Technologies provides secure, interoperable solutions for law enforcement agencies. According to FATPOT CEO Brian Taylor, the ability to share information seamlessly with local, state and federal organizations with an ongoing commitment to integrate real-time, secure intelligence into every aspect of the organization’s operations distinguishes the state-of-the-art agency.
FATPOT’s Peer Intelligence technology is a data-sharing foundation that enables disparate RMS, CAD, AVL and other data systems to interoperate. The FATPOT Public Safety Suite uses this foundation to power a variety of modules, including Home; Dispatch; Messaging or Communications; Mapping; Reporting; and Inquiries.
Taylor recommends encouraging participation as one tip for defeating interoperability hurdles. FATPOT’s modular software provides tools that empower personnel throughout the organization, including data-entry specialists, dispatchers, first responders and leaders. This technology allows employees to work together in new ways.
Another tip is to develop a clear picture of the information-sharing capabilities your organization needs and set clear, feasible goals for the project. This helps the organization in: 1) creating a focused RFP; 2) pursuing grant funding; 3) managing the project; and 4) dealing confidently with vendors. FATPOT’s modular technology can be scaled to meet the department’s requirements.
Departments should seek ways to build cooperation with other jurisdictions and foster a willingness to share information. Smaller agencies with limited funds and resources can benefit from interagency cooperation and are more likely to secure grant funding if they can show benefits for an entire region versus their smaller jurisdiction. Implementing FATPOT solutions creates a flexible architecture that allows agencies to retain existing systems, minimize training, and secure data.
Lastly, Taylor recommends agencies facilitate rapid, effective training. After initial training takes place, continue to assist personnel by providing manuals, conducting refresher workshops, creating cross-trainers or support specialists, and evaluating personnel regularly. FATPOT utilizes trainers with solid industry experience and helps agencies establish train-the-trainer instruction. FATPOT’s electronic manuals are built into the products to ensure that a user has the most up-to-date educational material at his fingertips.
InterAct Public Safety Systems
InterAct provides stand-alone and fully integrated public safety systems, including Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD), Emergency Call Taking, Phase 2 E911 Mapping Solutions and Mobile Data Systems. LAW and ORDER spoke with InterAct’s Jennifer Filipowski, the executive vice president of marketing.
Filipowski said an agency needs to define its overall goals and what it wants to achieve from the project. How many positions are required for each system (call-taker, dispatcher, administrator, records, remote)? For CAD, this decision can be based on facts and figures such as call volume.
InterAct’s CAD solution includes: InterAct CAD and the new HerculesCAD. Their Mobile solution is called OdysseyGIS. InterAct HerculesCAD is a new peer-to-peer, computer-aided dispatch system. Workstations can continue to operate (in a reduced capacity) through server failures and re-synch with servers when connectivity is reestablished. Workstations even continue to exchange and share data in the absence of a connection to the server.
For a smaller department, the InterAct Essential Dispatch offers agencies two positions of the state-of-the-art CAD and GIS system, including hardware and training for $75,000. One additional position can be added for $15,000. The base price includes all software, hardware, installation, training and the first year of maintenance. Maintenance costs after the first year are $9,500 annually.
For the larger department, the base price for InterAct CAD is between $10,000 and $15,000 per position for the software license. A Geo system is around $4,000 per position. Add $5,000 to $10,000 for hardware per position. InterAct also offers a WebCAD system that enables remote users to view and create CAD calls over the Internet, which is $6,000 per position. These prices also do not include the up-front investment required for the server, which is about $50,000 including hardware and software server licenses.
According to Filipowski, all of these systems are now within reach for every agency regardless of their budget thanks to subscription-based pricing and software-as-a-service (SaaS) models, both of which InterAct offers. InterAct also offers its own grant program to assist with the purchase of InterAct CAD and OdysseyGIS systems.
New World Systems
The New World Systems® Aegis Public Safety Software Solution integrates solutions for Dispatch, Mobile Computing, Field Reporting, Records Management and Corrections using Microsoft® technology. LAW and ORDER spoke with New World’s Greg Wandrei and Sarah Bajek.
According to Wandrei, one of the main benefits of the Aegis system is officer safety. In the Mobile Computing system, officers are given more information about situations or individuals they encounter. Officers are more prepared with data such as the history of the address, gang affiliations, and known associates.
Wandrei believes the Aegis software increases productivity in Field-based Reporting. For example, 10 years ago, an officer would drive back to the department and write reports for 1.5 hours. Now the officers are more visible to the public while on patrol, which creates a sense of security and less crime.
New World keeps users updated at no additional cost. If officials only want to replace their dispatch now but may want to update it later, they can. Another benefit of Aegis is that information is directly provided to citizens on a Web site. Data such as registered sex offenders’ locations, crime statistics, and burglaries can be found online.
In calculating initial costs, New World bases the price on the size of the department and tries to price accordingly to make the upgrades affordable. Obviously, a small department can’t afford to spend $1 million. According to Wandrei, as an example, Highland Park, IL PD spent $10,000 to upgrade its facility. In contrast, a bigger agency could spend up to $100,000.
When looking into grant funding, the New World Systems Web site has links to grant sites such as the Department of Justice (DOJ). The sales people are also informed on grants, but they do not provide grant-writing services.
Learning curves can range from six to nine months, depending on the upgrade or training process. New World provides training, delivered in person at the agency site. Converting to a whole new system can take 12 to 18 months. Once the agency starts a project to replace software, the vendor provides technical service, but the department itself must have personnel to help support it.
PlantCML provides the public safety community with call-center solutions designed to streamline emergency call-taking, including CTI-based answering platforms, computer-aided dispatch, digital mapping applications, digital logging recorders and management information systems.
LAW and ORDER spoke with PlantCML’s Lorin Bristow, the vice president of marketing, and Jeffrey Wittek, the strategic planner. According to Wittek, the public safety industry “is on the cusp of a large technology change.” Public safety applications used in the past were very independent. They had little interaction with each other and no connectivity between them. Today’s technology is shifting in telephone, radio and other call-center applications.
Wittek said “C4” stands for command, control, communications and computing. Wittek further defines the C4 continuum as the incorporation of proven Department of Defense methodologies to control next-generation technologies and data so as to improve public safety effectiveness.
PlantCML’s portfolio of next-generation products include Computer Telephony Integration; VESTA CS; VESTA Pallas; Sentinel Patriot; Sentinel CM; Graphical Information Systems; MapStar; Vela; Management Information Systems; MagIC; Analytics; Aurora; Computer-Aided Dispatch; Aries; Emergency Notification Systems; The Communicator; Reverse 911; Digital P-25; Trunked Radio; and COR P-25.
VESTA® and the Sentinel workstation are leading computer telephony integration (CTI) solutions with intelligent and easy-to-use features. Enhanced call visualization capabilities are enabled by the adaptable and intuitive ORION™ and VisualGIS™ families of mapping displays.
Emergency notification technology, developed and supported by PlantCML companies, REVERSE 911® and Dialogic Communications Corp. (DCC), brings hassle-free automation to map- or list-based communications.
From the CERES™ AudioRegister™ suite of logging / recording / retrieval, MagIC™ data collection / management, and Sentinel integrated solutions, PlantCML delivers capability, capacity and flexibility in tracking and reporting of data, as well as real-time monitoring.
PlantCML offers advanced networking solutions that enable communities to build, operate and enhance the efficiency and response effectiveness of 9-1-1 systems at the city, county, state and regional levels. Designed with advanced call-management interface applications, PlantCML’s networking solutions offer ease of use and forward-looking features, including Phase I and Phase II wireless-compliance and IP-based incident response systems.
Spillman Technologies Inc.
Spillman Technologies® provides public safety software, training, support and services. Spillman offers software solutions for police, sheriff, fire, EMS, dispatch, tribal police, airport security, port security and other agencies nationwide. LAW and ORDER spoke with Carrie Brown, Spillman’s marketing communications supervisor.
Spillman offers a two-pronged approach to sharing data among agencies. Agencies can join a host-shared system in which one Spillman agency hosts the server that stores all system data. Another option allows agencies to choose to use their existing data management systems in conjunction with Spillman’s InSight data-sharing broker product.
Spillman’s software solutions for public safety include Records Management; Computer-Aided Dispatch; Mobile Communications; Corrections Management; Fire / EMS Management; and Resource Management. Spillman software is modular, allowing agencies to meet changing needs by adding one or several modules at any time. Every 12 to 18 months, Spillman releases an upgraded version of existing software that includes new features and enhancements. Customers with annual maintenance agreements receive these upgrades at no charge.
Spillman Mobile 4.5, available to customers in the first half of 2009, will allow officers to complete forms from their patrol vehicles. Using the Automated Field Reporting modules and a laptop computer, officers can electronically capture incident details at the scene, quickly issue traffic and municipal citations, record the details of an accident, and conduct interviews.
The cost of Spillman software is determined by the total number of concurrent users at an agency. This is called a site license pricing model. Installation of Spillman desktop modules covers existing agency users as well as any users added under the site license in the future. This provides both immediate savings and long-term value to customers by allowing for the agency’s potential growth without added expense.
Each agency is provided with a My Spillman Web page, where it can access technical information, submit a support request, and access its account manager’s contact information 24/7. Using Spillman’s online Knowledgebase, users can access thousands of records, manuals, technical notes.
Spillman has a grant specialist available to help answer both current and potential customers’ grant questions and assist them in writing or editing grant applications. Spillman tracks federal grant opportunities and post a list of grants that are applicable to law enforcement agencies on its Web site.
SunGard Public Sector
SunGard Public Sector’s OSSI Product Suite addresses all areas of the public safety agency: Computer-Aided Dispatch, Records Management, Jail Management, Mobile Data Communications and Field Reporting. LAW and ORDER spoke with Matthew Springer, SunGard’s marketing and public relations specialist. Features of SunGard’s Computer-Aided Dispatch system include automated vehicle locator; command line and graphical dispatch capabilities; mapping integration; business and alarms subsystem; unit recommendation subsystem; premise / alert and hotspots subsystems; and integrated statistical reporting.
SunGard’s OSSI Mobile Product Suite integrates a flexible Mobile Computing, Mobile Field Reporting and Message Switch system into a simple, easy-to-use package. SunGard’s Mobile Field Reporting efficiently generates and submits incident, supplement, field contact and accident reports in the field. Once completed and approved, the reports are wirelessly submitted to the agency’s record management system where the reports become accessible and searchable. With
SunGard’s OSSI Message Switch application, agencies are equipped with technology to exchange information without utilizing voice channels over radio networks. SunGard’s OSSI Record Management System (RMS) offers a comprehensive database on persons, businesses, vehicles, criminal activity and more. This RMS system records and stores all information gathered during the course of an incident investigation.
Sun Ridge Systems Inc.
The RIMS software solution from Sun Ridge Systems includes Computer-Aided Dispatch, Records Management Systems, Mobile Computing, Jail Management, Mapping, Crime Analysis, Enhanced 911, as well as linking to other public safety computer systems.
Sun Ridge’s public safety software is one integrated suite of products rather than modules or separate programs that are “interfaced” to each other. For example, when information is entered in computer-aided dispatch, it is immediately available throughout the product suite, including records management, jail management and mobile computing.
The costs associated with Sun Ridge’s RIMS solution include the cost of the software and initial installation and training. Annual maintenance costs cover 24/7 technical support for emergencies; support for routine questions; software updates and upgrades. Sun Ridge recommends agencies use the Internet for grant advice.
The option to add modules is always available. RIMS is scalable so an agency will never “outgrow” it. At Sun Ridge’s annual RIMS Conference, attendees vote for the enhancements in future versions of RIMS. Ultimately, Sun Ridge suggests agencies look at the bottom line. What is the biggest bang for the buck?