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April 15, 2014
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How real-time crime center technologies are force multipliers

New technologies promise to connect disparate systems for improved situational awareness

By Mike Fox, Special Guest Contributor

Someone walks into a convenience store and walks out with merchandise without paying for it. What comes next determines a successful outcome.

Security footage shows the suspect leaving the store. The store manager calls 911. Police are already in the area on patrol and dispatch often has their position from radio GPS signals.

Yet voice becomes the primary tool to facilitate a response. If these disparate systems were integrated, dispatch could access the store’s footage as well as that of other area cameras, search databases for additional identification details and deliver that information directly to the closest officer for immediate pursuit.

Making Big Data Work

Integration of voice, video, and data changes everything. Today, data is available and often streaming into public safety and government agencies from virtually everywhere — smartphones, social media, sensors, alarms, as well as fixed and wireless video cameras.

This abundance of information comes with an enormous challenge: how to capture, correlate, and share it in real-time to make it actionable. Only then can public safety really utilize it to make faster, smarter and safer decisions.

This growing need has fueled the development of Real-Time Crime Centers (RTCC) to more effectively manage voice, video and data inputs and translate them into the most critical intelligence to distribute directly to law enforcement officers for a more proactive response.

While definitions for RTCCs vary from city to city, the overall goal remains the same. Agencies need to deploy solutions that bring together video inputs, incident and criminal complaints, arrest records, photos, national crime databases, 911 call records and more to deliver a single, real-time operational view.

Much of this information today sits in separate silos and takes hours or days to interpret and analyze. The latest generation of public safety applications, such as RTCC technology and state-of-the-art dispatch and radio systems, changes all that.

Proactive Policing

Integrated solutions make smarter policing possible and create the foundation for more advanced capabilities. Video analytics and sensors, for example, can help anticipate crowd formations and detect gunshots to deliver an additional layer of intelligence.

Further, data analytics applications integrate with current records databases to identify trends and allow for more proactive responses. Having the right data helps agencies achieve key operational objectives, including policing more of the city with the same resources, reducing time spent on investigations, increasing conviction rates increasing closure rates and ultimately safer outcomes.

The end result of all of this capability is a more connected and empowered officer on the street.

Where to Start

For most police departments, the focus and field of expertise remains on crime fighting and prevention — not implementing and managing technology. Advanced technology can help agencies do both better.

Officers expect to leverage the technology they use in their daily lives on the job. The keys to developing a workable RTCC strategy comes down to identifying key goals, understanding the current tools available and how creating a common operating picture that pulls multiple sets of data together and enables more effective processes and responses.

The following three key questions need to be considered:

•             How do you address immediate needs while accounting for future requirements?

•             How can you leverage existing technology and still benefit from the latest systems and applications?

•             Does your department have the internal resources — long-term strategy, technical expertise and staff, sufficient budget — to plan, implement and manage the right solution?

Planning Is Paramount

Begin by looking at key stakeholders and how to achieve their buy-in for technology investments. Which agencies and jurisdictions will you be working with and are your needs aligned with theirs? Is a shared model the best and most cost-effective way to accomplish collective goals?

How are you currently using multimedia data? Are you optimizing technology investments? If you have a video wall, for example, do you have the right work flows to make it more dynamic, such as tagging its relevance and location to other data sources such as computer-aided dispatch (CAD) incidents or alarms — instead of only using it to gather information after a crime has been committed? Analytics allow operators to work more proactively and efficiently.

Making policing more proactive, even predictive, and eventually preemptive is a growing priority. In fact, 90 percent of police departments plan to deploy technology to make that possible in the next five years. Looking at an RTCC concept that builds on an agency’s current infrastructure is an important part of making that transition.

Mike Fox is the senior director of government solutions for Motorola’s Global Solutions and Services team.  He is responsible for the company’s Real Time Crime Center Solution. For more information on Public Safety Solutions from Motorola Solutions check out the Real-Time Crime Center homepage. Follow Motorola Solutions on Facebook and Twitter to see the latest in public safety technology.

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