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FirstWatch Solutions Provide Actionable Intelligence

Law enforcement agencies are faced with the significant challenge of making sense of mountains of crime data. FirstWatch, headquartered in Encinitas, Calif., helps by turning this raw data into valuable, actionable information available to law enforcement teams and other authorized stakeholder groups in real time. FirstWatch automatically mines CAD, RMS, ePCR, ProQA and Hospital data for trends involving specified problem areas, or nature codes such as burglaries, robberies, SARs, gang activity, narcotics, sex crimes, etc. These user-defined incident types are called "triggers" and can be set to automatically alert when established criteria are met or exceeded.

FirstWatch can even analyze "free-text" in the notes or narrative to search for key words or phrases, partial plates, suspect names, vehicle descriptions, or other helpful information that may be captured in the incident text—all automatically in real time.

Any information that is captured in a database, such as CAD, ProQA or RMS, can be monitored by FirstWatch. The process is automated so there is no need for new training or any changes in how staff currently works. Data is presented on dashboards so users can quickly and easily see the status of any dataset they want via any Web-connectable device. GIS data can be displayed on a map in real time, creating a visual environment where the user can quickly analyze emerging trends and patterns.

FirstWatch can be used to reduce workload and increase awareness by automating key notifications for sentinel or situational awareness events, such as a kidnapping, MCI event, shots fired, suspicious activity reports, hot prowl, active shooter, etc. When a FirstWatch trigger goes off, the user determines to whom and how an alert will automatically be sent—for example, pager, e-mail, fax, text message, etc.

Users can pre-set triggers to provide alerts for common types of incidents, and can also have customized triggers for their specific needs. FirstWatch can be set to alert law enforcement, homeland security, and fusion center teams about potential early signs of a chemical, biological, radioactive attack, or other concerning occurrences.

100 Millionth Call

On June 24, a 9-1-1 dispatcher took the 100 millionth call that was recorded as a part of the international FirstWatch network of data. "What is the address of your emergency?" the dispatcher asked, followed by questions about the nature of the problem. The answers, carefully coded and recorded on a computer, form a distinct digital record that can be automatically evaluated by software engineered by FirstWatch. Patterns in the location and types of calls can give public safety and health

personnel critical data about emerging trends, such as an outbreak of disease or the release of toxic material, as well as useful everyday operational information, such as key performance indicators (KPIs) for response times, National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) measures, or patient outcomes.

"The 100 millionth call is an important milestone," said Todd Stout, FirstWatch founder. "It represents the incredibly rich pool of data across North America that can be shared across jurisdictions, between a variety of agencies, all in real time. Every new call and every new community adds to the value of the network."

A key to FirstWatch’s success, according to Stout, is automation. "The 9-1-1 dispatcher doesn’t have to do anything different," he said, "the software does all the work." Real-time calls captured in the FirstWatch network are constantly compared to historical trends, he said. If the software detects something unusual in the patterns, Stout added, it automatically sends out an alert to a predetermined set of public safety officials for further investigation.

FirstWatch has been previously used by their customers to monitor 9-1-1 call data in real time, automatically for high-profile national events like the U.S. Open, NCAA Final Four, APEC, National Governor’s Conference, G8 summit, the Democratic and Republication National Conventions, and most recently Super Bowl XLVII, Super Bowl XLVIII and Mardi Gras. FirstWatch was first installed in Kansas City, Mo., in 1999, to spot potential bioterrorism attacks. 

While almost all law enforcement agencies share similar concerns, each community has its own unique combination of offenses that make up the biggest threat to public safety whether they are crimes against persons, property or public order. Triggers can be used to track and trend those "Target Crimes." As with all FirstWatch Triggers; they can be modified as the agency’s needs and focus change.

Oceanside, Calif. Police

FirstWatch provides Oceanside, Calif. Police crime analysts with a free-text sentinel tool to help them quickly receive alerts on key words or phrases contained in notes/comments received during the call-taking process. The text tool

provides investigators with a dynamic way to target specific events and situations (on-the-fly) that are not normally classified during the initial report. Searching through notes/comments from an incident, the trigger can automatically look for information relating to gang activity, partial license plates, information on wanted vehicles, Amber alerts, pursuits and more. One of the key real-time benefits of the FirstWatch Free Text Trigger is that investigators can deploy or update new analysis/surveillance criteria in a matter of minutes.

Sector Triggers for Law Enforcement teams are presented at daily briefings by command staff or authorized users may log into FirstWatch and check the status of the previous 8, 12, 16 or 24 hours prior to their shift starting. This enables oncoming shifts to see the activity that has occurred as well as what is in progress.

Law enforcement agencies throughout the United States deal with gang activity and have special units assigned to monitor events. Task forces at Oceanside requested a trigger specific to the monitoring of such events. This Trigger was designed to search call comments for key words and call types associated with local gangs. As is depicted in the map view, officers can visually identify areas with strong gang activity.

The map plotting feature of FirstWatch Triggers enables users to have a visual correlation of what and where calls are occurring. Using the Auto Theft Trigger, tracking not only stolen vehicles but also locations of the recovered stolen vehicles has helped officers to pinpoint high-risk areas. This particular Trigger includes: LOJACK and Vehicle Tampering in addition to Stolen Vehicle Information.

Early Warning is vital for School Notification whether it’s an active shooter in the area or simply a house fire nearby. The FirstWatch School Situational Awareness Trigger incorporates Geo-Fences surrounding schools with a user-defined radius. The user determines what event types are included or excluded. When a qualifying event is entered into the CAD and falls within the established Geo-Fence, automated Alerts are sent to Command Staff and School Officials.

Once notified, school staff can follow their protocols based on the nature of the event. Whether it’s a situation requiring a lock-down or simply sending a staff member around the block to keep students walking home, away from a downed utility wire, this Trigger is a great collaborative tool for law enforcement, schools and other public safety teams.

The FirstWatch® Real-Time Early Warning™ software automatically monitors live 9-1-1, EMS, Fire, Law Enforcement and Public Heath performance, clinical and operational data at your fingertips via any Web connectable device. The system can monitor CAD, ProQA, ePCR, RMS or Hospital Data to watch for trends, patterns, or increases in user-defined criteria, including respiratory problems, abdominal pain, headache and other indicators that could be associated with Hazmat incidents, bioterrorism or influenza, whether they appear in geographic clusters or across the entire population being monitored. Data is displayed across a secure network, available to licensed and approved users. Users have learned that the database of information is also invaluable for everyday operational use, such as in monitoring response times.

FirstWatch is currently used by more than 300 cities, coun­ties and public health agencies in 27 states and provinces across North America, representing nearly 85 million people, making it the largest and most comprehensive system of its kind.



Published in Law and Order, Sep 2014

Rating : 9.5

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