Police officers take intensive training in the process of identifying, locating and arresting those that violate the law. Most of these activities take place while the officer is behind the wheel of a squad car. The officer learns to rely on his wits and power of observation to make these arrests.
When an officer needs to check a license plate or a driver’s license through dispatch, he must either call in on his radio or pull off the road to type this information into an onboard laptop computer. The officer cannot use the enormous power of the computer when driving because of the task of data entry, and them most critical time to request and receive this information is when the officer is driving! Far too many officers lose their lives because they did not have the information necessary for assessing the risk factors when approaching a suspect vehicle. Vira provides information and greater safety for officers.
A large number of officers have keyboard talents that are limited by the two-finger typing method. Unleashing the power of the onboard laptop computer has been the huge challenge faced by police departments everywhere. Police officers are employed to protect the citizens they serve. They are not hired for their PC skills or for keyboard data entry.
A dramatic leap in technology has occurred with the development of a voice recognition system by Data Agents, Inc. Capturing and storing vital incident data by voice recognition techniques allows the officer to drive down the road, watch or pursue a suspect, with both hands on the wheel and request plate checks – all at once! This new technology is especially significant because it allows law enforcement departments to fully utilize the Federal programs established for empowering their officers. It can free them from the tasks of data entry when requesting plate or driver’s license information, filing incident reports and it will keep the officers on the road.
This new system is currently working in Gloucester County Sheriff’s Department (Virginia) in tandem with Cerulean TM Packet Cluster Patrol TM mobile-to-base software environment.
When the officer requests information on a motor vehicle plate or driver’s license, he will receive an audible alarm, an on-screen display and a voice message saying the response is urgent. Vira will tell the officer if the car is stolen or if the driver is a “Wanted felon” and other information essential to the officer’s safe handling of the situation.
In addition to the introductory product, Vira Bronze, three additional projects are in development. Vira Bronze offers Verbal Command and Control and text-to-speech conversion of an officer’s command request.
Vira Silver has all of the features of Vira Bronze plus Plate-Stacker, which allows officers to request a series of plates in a batch and recover the responses one at a time at a later time or a different (safer) location. Talk-Back, which provides the officer with Verbal Verification of incoming information. For example, Vira will tell the officer, “You have a dispatch,” or “You have a wanted felon announcement.” The Silver product also allows Voice File Portability – so an officer can carry his own personal voice files to another laptop, as resources are re-assigned. Multiple voice files can be used on one laptop unit.
Vira Gold brings the magic of communications to the officer’s laptop. Vira Comms features E-mail, car-to-car communication, conferencing, message broadcasting and routing, and screen “parsing” of NCIC data into specific, concise blocks of information. The release of Vira Gold is planned for Q2 1999.
Scheduled for Q3 1999, Vira Platinum offers all of the rich features of the Gold product with the addition of Incident Report Creation. Currently in development to operate with Cerulean TM Packet Writer TM, this product can be integrated with most other incident report writing systems. Since many officers file an average of 20 or more reports per day and the reports take an average of 15 minutes each to complete in the conventional way, processing reports through Vira will save valuable time. Officers will have more time for enforcement activities because they are not spending hours as data entry clerks.
Vira has been field-tested with a variety of microphones, ranging from full wrap-around headsets to tiny lapel devices. The microphone of choice in the Gloucester County installation is a small, lightweight unit that wraps around the ear with a small antenna to transmit the voice input to the computer.
After only eight weeks of field-testing the Vira system in his car, Lt. David Hicks of the Gloucester County Sheriff’s Department said, “The headset is incredibly light and comfortable and I have experienced an extraordinary 99% accuracy rate when I request information on vehicle plate and driver’s license checks. It’s great to be able to access vital information without having to pull off the road to use my laptop PC. And the more I use this system, the better ‘trained’ my computer becomes in recognizing my voice.”
Lieutenant Hicks has seen a dramatic improvement in the amount of meaningful data that he now receives. “Before Vira became a part of my daily routine, it would take at least a minute – and up to three minutes if the dispatch line was busy with other calls – to get a report about a motor vehicle tag.” An officer running license checks at a vehicle checkpoint could run about 20 in an hour using traditional methods – and he could run 300 checks using Vira, a dramatic increase in the officer’s productivity.
Captain Roger Fulton, a retired officer from the New York State Police and a contributing writer to The Backup, recently compared notes with Lt. Hicks concerning the difference in the quality of the information that was processed through Vira. “He recently ran a (motor vehicle) plate on a suspect who was in the car ahead of him on a busy highway. Vira let him know that not only was the suspect wanted in another city but that he was also tagged as an ‘endangered missing person’. This valuable information saved him time and increased his safety in approaching the suspect.” Fulton is very enthusiastic about the Vira product line. “It is one of the most exciting things I have seen in Law Enforcement in my 25 years. It will make officers much safer and dramatically increases their productivity,” said Fulton.
Lt. Hicks emphasized his increased productivity during shift hours as a huge benefit since he can easily process over 100 requests for information in an eight-hour shift.
A traditional request through dispatch would take one to three minutes depending on the number of calls being handled by the dispatcher. Most direct voice requests through Vira takes less than 10 seconds! A busy metropolitan police officer recently ran 700 license plates on a singe eight-hour shift.
Data Agents has spent several man-years in the development of Vira. They believe this product will greatly increase the safety of the officers by providing information concerning suspect cars or drivers and speed the time required preparing incident reports. For more information, contact Data Agents by E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or call them at (757) 220-5896.
Data Agents, Inc. 120-B Tewning Rd Williamsburg, VA 23188