Dana Rasmussen is a senior marketing communications specialist for Tyler Technologies. She began her career working with public safety officials as a reporter covering the police beat. She has written about the work of dispatchers, law enforcement officers, fire fighters and the communities they serve.
This article is part four of a four-part series on intelligence and reporting tools Part one | Part two | Part three | Part four
When it comes to big data in public safety, getting to the big picture is important.
At public safety agencies across the country, command staff need to be able to identify and digest information about their communities quickly. That means they need to have the ability to analyze the vast amounts of data collected and stored within their public safety software systems. With the right intelligence and reporting tools, dashboard functionality helps make this happen.
Dashboards provide a high-level overview into crime trends and help easily identify large spikes in crimes or patterns. This data helps command staff to gather the necessary information to take action so they are better able to predict, prevent and reduce crimes.
When intelligence and reporting tools offer dashboards, it helps public safety personnel who aren't as familiar with law enforcement records management software to look at the same information to view instant updates regarding trends or crimes happening at that moment.
This functionality is especially beneficial when command staff have a specific question that needs answered. For instance, if command staff needs to know if burglaries have increased in a specific area, dashboards provide the answer. This actionable intelligence helps command staff to reallocate resources if necessary to increase patrol and reduce crime, which leads to safer communities.
This article is part three of a four-part series on intelligence and reporting tools Part one | Part two | Part three
Data analysis plays an important role for public safety agencies as it can be used to help predict, reduce and prevent crimes. However, this is only possible when agencies possess the tools necessary to extract data from their public safety software system.
For example, if an agency needs to know how many tickets were issued in a specific week, a standard data analysis tool can generate a report with that information. This type of interaction is transactional in that it provides users with what they asked for, but it does not offer anything additional.
To obtain additional information, public safety agencies need to use an intelligence and analytical tool that can do more with the data.
A robust intelligence and analytical tool is going to look at tickets issued and instantly break them down by time of day, day of the week, the frequency in which tickets were issued, what locations in a jurisdiction received tickets, and the percentage of increase for each of those issues. This same tool will display this information in Microsoft Excel pivot tables so it is easily digestible by users.
With Excel pivot tables, users can extract any information they request, so long as it exists in the system. Information is then generated in real-time and creates a report in less than 30 seconds. Without this tool, the same process could take hours.
Having this capability to use actionable intelligence stored in a public safety agency's own system provides users with the ability to generate a plan of action to predict, reduce and prevent crime.
Part one of a four-part series on intelligence and reporting toolsPart one | Part two | Part three
When public safety agencies have the ability to take big data and make it work for them, they're able to reduce crime and keep communities safer.
Consider this — a police department in an average-sized city might interact with thousands of people on a yearly basis. This interaction could be through responding to calls for service, making arrests, booking criminals into the county jail, taking reports, managing lost or stolen property, or handling pieces of evidence. All of these interactions generate data which is often times needed for future use, so that data gets stored or archived.
If this data is stored in a Microsoft SQL server database, it can easily be recalled later, and used by sworn officers and civilian staff. That means when analytical information is needed, which includes everything from names, numbers, addresses, case numbers and anything else that comes into the server, public safety personnel can extract that data and generate reports.
By using an intelligence and reporting tool to work with that data and generate reports, sworn officers and civilian staff are better able to identify trends or patterns that impact public safety. The tool can easily cut through large swaths of data and pinpoint what is needed by the civilian staff or sworn officer. The information then becomes digestible and easy to use.
Intelligence and reporting tools also help illustrate trends or patterns that may be occurring in a community. When these trends are highlighted by these tools, an agency's command staff is better able to allocate resources to specific areas, which helps to reduce crime and improve the safety of the community.
From identifying bodies to capturing fugitives, the stories from The Call show the type of situations public safety personnel throughout the United States handle on a daily basis.
In the last four months, our most popular articles include:
Burglary Ring Busted by Law Enforcement
The Facts About Text-to-911
Police Keep Community Safe Using Mission-Critical Data
These articles highlight how public safety officials keep communities safe as well as the importance of keeping up with industry trends like Next Generation 911.
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There is a significant amount of work required behind-the-scenes in every emergency response, and it all starts with computer-aided dispatch (CAD).
When a call for service comes in to a 9-1-1 communication center, dispatchers immediately get to work sending a response. From there, first responders head out to provide assistance in whatever manner they are needed. But that doesn't mean the dispatchers' role in the response ends.
For instance, when officers respond to a call for service, they stay in contact with dispatchers at the communication center using their mobile data terminals (MDTs) located in their vehicles.
By staying in contact, dispatchers are able to route first responders to the scene and attach real-time updates about the call for service that first responders can see using their MDTs as they travel to the incident.
CAD systems with automatic vehicle location (AVL) functionality offer additional benefits as they provide dispatchers and first responders the ability to see where all first responders' vehicles are located on a digital map.
With AVL, a global positioning system (GPS) is set up on an agency's mobile server and configured so GPS data is sent to the mobile software located in an officer's vehicle. This signal is also sent to other units within the agency and to dispatch. To do this, AVL technology constantly sends latitude and longitude coordinates back to the CAD system so that the unit's location is always known by the agency's dispatchers.
AVL functionality helps dispatchers with routing as it helps direct patrol officers to the location of a call for service and provides continuous estimated time of arrival (ETA) data. By knowing where all first responders are on the map, CAD managers are able to help ensure communities have a robust level of patrol in all areas.
While the work of dispatchers happens outside of the public eye, they play a vital role in emergency responses and providing public safety to communities everywhere.
In the world of emergency situations, every second counts. That's why it is important for dispatchers to never have to worry about their computer aided dispatch (CAD) system going down.
Although rare, CAD systems can go down for a variety of reasons. One reason some are taken down deliberately is to update geographic information system (GIS) data imperative to routing.
Keeping GIS information current is a crucial component to maintaining faster and smarter response times. While there is a plethora of GIS data about a community that does not change, certain elements need to be updated from time to time, such as a new development being built, road closures and construction.
This updated information provides greater accuracy and helps dispatchers and first responders continuously provide a high-level of service to the community.
Some CAD software still requires going offline in order to update GIS data because their systems are unable to update in real time and stay online. It's Important to have a system that allows for the updating of GIS data without having to take that system down, as this lets dispatchers and first responders have constant access to data.
When a CAD system is taken offline, calls for service are still handled, but dispatchers are required to use radio communication. Deliberately taking a CAD system offline to update GIS data meant that calls for service suffer from not having important information available at all times.
When a body was found in the Kankakee River in the spring of 2016, public safety professionals worked quickly to identify the remains.
What was known about the body at the time of discovery was that it was a badly decomposed black male who had likely been in the water for up to 10 days. Fingerprint detection was impossible due to the decomposition, which meant public safety officials had to look elsewhere for information.
Using the approximate height, weight, age and race of the body, authorities searched through a national missing person's database in an attempt to identify the man, but found no matching results. National databases such as Forensic Filer and TLOxp Transunion are costly and can take months to generate leads.
However, a break in the case came when the county coroner discovered a rose tattoo on the body. This tattoo, which was located on the neck, was enough of a distinguishing characteristic that the Kankakee County Sheriff's Office would have it in their records and corrections system if the man had ever been in custody.
Trent Bukowski, IT Director for the Kankakee County Sheriff's Office, searched through his public safety software database to see if any records of previous inmates had a neck tattoo matching the description. Bukowski had a match within minutes.
Using the scars, marks and tattoos module inside the corrections system, Bukowski generated a list of 68 current and former inmates who had neck tattoos. Based on the location of the tattoo on the unidentified man's body, the list of possible matches was brought down to eight. By examining the photos of these eight individuals with neck tattoos, investigators were able to match the unidentified man's tattoo to his booking photo found in the corrections system.
With the identity of the body known, the man's family was contacted and officials were able to close the case. Drowning was the official cause of death for the man found in the river, and drugs were also found in his system.
This article is part four of a six-part series on Next Generation 911
Part one | Part two | Part three | Part four | Part five | Part six
Text-to-911 is as simple as it sounds. It means that cell phone users can send and receive text messages to and from 9-1-1 call centers.
This concept generally calls to mind the image of someone hiding in a closet while texting 9-1-1 to say there is a burglar in the house. The reason this person is texting 9-1-1 instead of calling 9-1-1 highlights the need to communicate with emergency services even when speaking could be a problem.
Text-to-911 works the same way it does when individuals send text messages to and from one another.
From a technological standpoint, when an individual makes a text call to 9-1-1, the text caller sends a text message to emergency services. That text message is then routed by the person's phone provider (Verizon, Sprint, etc.) through a Text Control Center (TCC) to the appropriate public safety answering point (PSAP) in the area. Texts are received by a PSAP within six seconds.
Text-to-911 is a part of the National Emergency Number Association's Next Generation 9-1-1 initiative. This initiative is aimed at preparing PSAPs across the country with the technology capabilities to support the modern mixed media that smartphones and communication devices are capable of offering.
This article is part three of a six-part series on Next Generation 911
Part one | Part two | Part three | Part four | Part five | Part six
To determine what Next Generation 911 (NG 9-1-1) means for each public safety answering point (PSAP) is a bit complicated.
Currently, each PSAP in every community in every state is at a different level of readiness for NG 9-1-1. However, according to standards put into place regarding NG 9-1-1 by the National Emergency Number Association (NENA), every dispatcher and call taker is going to be expected to communicate with those in need of 9-1-1 emergency services in more ways than just by voice.
This change is similar to what it was like when technology moved away from rotary phones to push buttons phones to phones with no buttons at all. This is a change that reflects how communication has changed and how that impacts all parts of our lives.
Since the sending of text messages is something many if not most people do now, there is a growing conversation among people wondering if they can send a text to 9-1-1. These people also wonder why they can't send a photo message or a video message or a live stream of a crime happening to 9-1-1 now.
NG 9-1-1 makes it possible for everyone to send these types of messages to 9-1-1, and PSAPs will be able to receive these messages, it's just a matter of when.
As of October 2016, each PSAP in the country is working independently to become ready for NG 9-1-1.
PSAPs that are slightly ahead of the game are ready to accept text calls from the community, but this only accounts for approximately 15% of PSAPs nationwide.
Read part four of the series »
This article is part two of a six-part series on Next Generation 911
Part one | Part two | Part three | Part four | Part five | Part six
In the year 2020, public safety answering points (PSAPs) everywhere will finally get an answer to a burning question: When will Next Generation 911 (NG 9-1-1) services be ready?
2020 is the year when the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) is expected to determine a definitive date for each PSAP in the country to know what to do to be ready for NG 9-1-1 services.
The reason this initiative is such a lengthy undertaking is because NG 9-1-1 requires PSAPs to connect to new networks and install new digital 9-1-1 systems. NENA is also setting guidelines or standards so that PSAPs throughout the country will all follow similar protocols (however, each PSAP will have the ability to determine the manner in which they handle NG 9-1-1 messages).
While all standards and protocols are not yet in place, many PSAPs throughout the country are readying themselves in some fashion, especially in regards to text-to-911.
Text-to-911 is one of the first aspects of NG 9-1-1 that PSAPs are preparing to handle. It involves PSAPs implementing the capability of handling emergency text messages from the public. Later, PSAPs will be able to handle multi-media messages and live video streams from the public.
As of October 2016, the majority of states do report some level of readiness for NG 9-1-1, mostly in terms of handling text-to-911. However, that does not mean that all communities within these states have text-to-911 capabilities. In fact, fewer than 15% of PSAPs across the United States currently are able to accept text calls.
As time goes on, it is expected that more communities will be able to offer text-to-911 services and will then focus on the next phase of NG 9-1-1.
Read part three of this series »
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