Baltimore PD adds Xora GPS tracking to 'Side Partner'
Xora's mobile workforce management solution lets dispatchers and supervisors see the exact GPS location of every one of its more than 2,000 sworn law enforcers
The Baltimore Police Department (BPD) — which patrols an area of more than 92 square miles and serves to protect a community of more than 641,000 citizens — is the eighth-largest municipal police force in the United States. The PD has nine police districts, each of which is divided into multiple sectors. Needless to say, there are a lot of moving parts to keep track of, and to do so more effectively, the PD has turned to a technology company called Xora (pronounced “Zorah”). Simply put, Xora’s technology, which can be accessed from any Internet-connected computer, enables dispatchers and supervisors to keep track of the exact GPS location of every one of its more than 2,000 sworn law enforcers.
I can hear you now. “Wait, this thing tracks my every move? That sounds an awful lot like a Big Brother thing.”
That perception — and its attendant criticisms — have a legitimate place in the discussion, but the reality of what Xora can do is much, much more complex — and potentially a huge benefit to officer safety and success on the street.
The Big Picture
In the area on the BlackBerry website dedicated to those awards, Dr. Gayle Guilford, Director of MIS for Baltimore Police Department, was quoted as saying, “Side Partner and the BlackBerry smartphone helps us achieve what our police commissioner wanted — more officers out of cars and into the community, interacting with people on the street in a way that's both safe and with the information they need.”
Enhancing Officer Safety
Xora relays the GPS coordinates from each officer’s BlackBerry to a desktop map, where dispatchers and commanders back at the PD can quickly view the locations of all the officers at an event or within a particular area. This ability has been especially helpful in crowd situations, making it much easier and faster to pinpoint officer locations. When many officers are stationed in a crowded area, it can be difficult for dispatchers to find and deploy them quickly. The Xora GPS data also gives administration a better historical picture of how officers are deployed in each sector and district. This makes for much more accurate analysis and reporting, which ultimately — well, hopefully — results in better decision making on future deployment.
Director Guilford tells PoliceOne that for her PD, one such example was Independence Day last year. “During the celebration, at the Inner Harbor, an incident occurred. Officers ran to the incident, however the GPS Mapping solution brought to light how long it took officers to get back to their assigned posts after the incident. As a result, deployment can be based on sending specific units and verifying [the deployment] afterward — historically — if the assignments were correct.”
Likewise, supervisors need to be able to monitor the amount of time it takes for officers to respond to an incident and then return to their previously-held positions. Location data presented by Xora enables dispatchers and supervisors to address these issues so they can make faster and smarter decisions regarding the use of field officer resources.
Also known as the software as a service (SaaS) model, this type of technology makes it simple and cost-effective for the deployment and upkeep of technology solutions. With SaaS software, updates are made automatically (no downloading new software to the computer, and no “Upgrade Hiccups” commonly associated with those downloads. Other well-known cloud computing solutions are things like Google Maps, and Google Earth, both of which have proven to have excellent uses in law enforcement.
Guilford lists three key things to consider in the deployment of an LE Xora solution:
Has your PD deployed a GPS location-based services solution? Sound off in the comments area below, or send us an email.
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