To begin responding to high-priority calls before an officer is dispatched, the Ogden Police Department (Ogden P.D.) needed improved access to the data in its many systems. The department chose Fusion Core Solution, a web portal based on Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 and Esri ArcGIS mapping software. Analysts at the department’s new Real Time Crime Center (RTCC) can now give patrol officers important information while they are en route to a call, thereby increasing officer safety and effectiveness and reducing call handle times. Other capabilities provided by the solution have improved planning and incident command. Due to the quick-start nature of Fusion Core Solution, which is designed to build on IT assets many cities already have, Ogden P.D. improved its ability to protect and serve the community quickly and at a modest cost, leading to a strong and rapid return on investment.Situation
The Ogden Police Department (Ogden P.D.)—comprised of 144 sworn officers, 10 community service officers, and 23 civilians—serves a population of 82,000 over an area of 28 square miles. Its size places the department at the low end of what is typically considered a midsized agency—one of the 600 to 700 police departments in the United States that serve populations of 50,000 to 500,000.
While Ogden P.D. may be small in comparison to its big-city counterparts, its focus on using information technology to more efficiently “protect and serve” is anything but so. The man behind that vision is Ogden Police Chief Jon Greiner, who saw an opportunity to mimic the successes of Real Time Crime Centers (RTCCs) in larger cities—high-tech command centers designed to bring together information from a broad range of systems to help police departments better focus their resources and deliver the right information to the right place, at the right time.
||Fusion Core Solution was, as promised, a true ‘quick-start’ solution. We went from idea to fruition in about four months, including the time to train personnel.
Chief of Police, Ogden Police Department
Greiner envisioned several benefits from such a facility, beginning with an ability to start responding to high-priority calls as they are received—before an officer is dispatched. This work would be done by seasoned officers who understand what information the responding officer might need—such as whether outstanding warrants, parolees, or gang activity are associated with an address. “Many times, the responding uniformed officer has less than a year’s experience,” says Greiner. “We wanted to give them access to seasoned officers with decades of experience, along with the information they need to ensure their own safety and solve crimes more quickly.”
Greiner also envisioned using the data in existing systems to enhance situational awareness, improve incident command, and make more efficient use of resources. For example, he saw how he could address a backlog of 7,500 unserved warrants on any given day—representing US$14 million in uncollected fines—by identifying addresses for which several warrants exist.
Ogden P.D. had several requirements in searching for a solution to meet its needs, starting with affordability. No federal grant money would be available; instead, Greiner would need to fund it out of his existing budget. The solution would also need to integrate with a range of disparate systems and expose the data in them through a unified, user-friendly interface that would make it easy to access, analyze, and apply the data. Just as important, the solution had to be low-risk, deliver rapid results, and be expandable over time.Solution
The department’s first step was to reach out to Environmental Systems Research Institute (Esri), whose ArcGIS mapping software was already being used by the city. Conversations with Esri led Ogden P.D. to Fusion Core Solution, an easy-to-use, quick-to-configure web portal designed to help law enforcement and counterterrorism agencies improve information management and information-sharing—and ultimately be more effective. Developed jointly by Esri and Microsoft, Fusion Core Solution combines the capabilities of ArcGIS and Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 to provide:
Prebuilt, fully customizable forms for managed intake.
Configurable workflows for managing the flow of tasks and information.
Easily configured, security-enhanced access to external data sources.
Enterprise search capabilities across multiple data sources.
Powerful geospatial mapping capabilities.
Comprehensive content management features for storing and sharing information.
Integrated collaboration features, such as websites, wikis, and blogs.
Robust security and privacy features, including integration with existing security mechanisms.
Powerful management reporting tools for monitoring center activities.
“Our goal was to reuse as many existing IT assets as possible, as a means of keeping costs down,” says Greiner. “The city already had both ArcGIS and SharePoint Server 2010, although we in the police department didn’t know a fraction of what it could do.”From Idea to Fruition in Four Months
To implement Fusion Core Solution, Ogden P.D. brought in CyberTech, an Esri Platinum Partner and member of the Microsoft Partner Network. “In our initial scope meeting, it became immediately clear that CyberTech understood what we wanted and that, through the use of Fusion Core Solution, could rapidly deliver on that vision,” says Greiner.
Ogden P.D. and CyberTech began defining solution requirements in May 2011. Development began in June and, within a few months, it was up and running—including the time required to configure the solution to meet the agency’s needs and coach the center’s staff on its use.
The RTCC, which is located next to the dispatch center, includes several big-screen displays and four workstations. The center is run by David Weloth, who spent 20 years with Ogden P.D before retiring in 2005. Other RTCC analysts include three sworn officers, one with 30 years of experience and another with 26. The third officer, while not as seasoned, is the center’s resident “tech guru.” Together, the team boasts more than 80 years of law enforcement experience in areas ranging from major crimes, fraud, forgery, and narcotics to adult probation and parole.Monitoring Priority Calls
Although it serves many functions, the RTCC’s primary mission is to support Priority-1 and Priority-2 calls. Analysts proactively monitor the dispatch board, perform the necessary research, and send it to the patrol officer’s in-car computer while he or she is en route. Such information can include whether parolees, drug dealers, or gang members may be at the residence (including their pictures), whether the address is associated with any outstanding warrants, and whether an individual is in suspected violation of the city’s gang injunction or is a person of interest in other investigations. Analysts also have access to data from the city’s Good Landlord Program (designed to prevent illegal activity at rental properties), data and pictures from the department’s license plate reader car, and other information on the location’s crime and violence history. Figure 1 shows a screenshot of the portal’s dispatch browser screen.
|Figure 1. Real-time view of queued calls, dispatched calls, and police vehicle locations.|
Although there are many scenarios in which such information is useful, a recent example illustrates the value of getting the right information to the right place at the right time. “The other day, our license plate reader car identified a stolen Honda Accord, which was traveling in the opposite direction,” Weloth recalls. “By the time the officer turned around, the occupants of the stolen vehicle had made a few quick turns and abandoned it. Officers flooded the area and identified a suspect, a parolee, who denied being in the car. Fortunately, we had already pulled a picture from the license plate reader system that clearly showed the suspect had been in the car and sent it to the officer. Had he not had access to that information, he may have had to release the suspect.”
Weloth cites a recent fraud call as a second example. “Dispatch received a call about someone who had tried to pass a bad check, and all we had was a license plate number and the fact that it was a white car,” he says. “I used the license plate to identify the registered owner’s name and address, which I then used to check for warrants and identify that the same type of vehicle was suspected in another crime. We can package and deliver the information that a responding officer needs in about three minutes, with a copy of that Microsoft Word document stored in a SharePoint library so that it can be retrieved and searched on at any time.”
The portal provides many other useful features, such as drive-time analysis. Social networks can be monitored, which proved helpful in a 17-hour hostage standoff a few months ago, during which the suspect was posting on Facebook. Twitter updates also can be monitored and filtered based on location and keyword, providing yet another tool for curtailing gang activity.Powerful Geospatial Mapping
The geospatial mapping component of Fusion Core Solution is also proving helpful—especially in examining trends and developing proactive policing strategies. Information that can be visualized on a map includes data on misdemeanors and felonies, warrants, gang activity, probationers and parolees, and registered sex offenders. Analysts also can view the locations of police and fire vehicles, Department of Transportation and Ogden city cameras, and the locations of schools, hospitals, and traffic lights.
Analysts can combine, filter, and access the data behind map indicators. For example, clicking on a police vehicle shows information about the active call, clicking on a city camera displays real-time video feed, and clicking on a warrant indicator displays its classification, issue date, bail amount, and more. By clicking on a school and then applying the Find Nearby tool, an analyst can display all registered sex offenders, probationers, or parolees within a given radius.
The department recently used its new mapping capabilities to visualize the geographic distribution of unserved warrants and identify where to get the biggest return on resources in serving them (Figure 2).
|Figure 2. Geographic view of warrant distribution.|
Aid for Detectives
The RTCC also does supplemental investigative work for various bureaus within the department, such as aiding detectives. Weloth cites a 14-year-old, cold-case rape investigation in which a DNA sample was the only evidence collected. “A DNA match led us to a suspect in another state, who was soon to be released,” he recalls. “One of our best detectives had spent two weeks attempting to find the victim to testify before stopping by the RTCC to see if we could help. Within minutes we found the victim, who had changed names and was in another state. We were able to help because we have immediate access to a lot more information.”
Managed Intake and Workflow
Analysts at the RTCC also review previously reported Part I crimes and research cases, and they review incoming tips, leads, suspicious activity reports, and submissions from the city’s community portal—all areas where the portal’s managed intake, workflow, and content management tools are proving helpful. “Requests for information are captured in a SharePoint form, with SharePoint workflows used to track the requests,” explains Rob McGovern of CyberTech, who spearheaded the portal’s implementation and trained Ogden P.D. on its use. “We’re now building templates for various types of reports—including the use of Quick Parts in Microsoft Word 2010 to automatically populate parts of the templates with data from other systems.”
Weloth sees such capabilities as being especially useful for briefing notes, which, until the new templates are ready, are still being managed in the same way that they were when he joined the department in 1985. “Today, briefing notes are hand-assembled, printed, and clipped into a binder,” he explains. “In the morning meeting, a sergeant thumbs through the binder and rattles them off, with officers taking notes by hand. Very soon, we’ll be compiling briefing notes by using managed workflows and storing them on the portal so that officers can access, augment, and search them from their vehicles.”
Major Incident Command and Emergency Operations
||I’m thoroughly impressed by what we’ve achieved so far, which has also helped me realize that there’s a lot more we can do…. We’re looking at anything and everything that we can put into SharePoint Server or visualize on a map.
Chief of Police, Ogden Police Department
The RTCC can also function as a command center for major incidents. For example, in the case of a major chemical spill, it can model the affected area based on the specific chemical, wind speed, and wind direction—thereby quickly discerning which areas are in danger, which roads to close and where, and which schools can be used as emergency facilities. “In the case of a major event, we can start addressing the issue immediately,” says Weloth. “Such capabilities can provide immense value in the first few hours while we set up a formal response center. Virtually any incident can be managed and information communicated to those with a need to know, wherever they are, as long as they have a basic smartphone or similar device.”
Having accomplished so much in the past few months, Ogden P.D. is more convinced than ever that it’s on the right track. The department is now working with CyberTech on a follow-up effort, which will expand the solution to support assisting detectives with their workloads as well as other aspects of city government, such as the fire department, public works department, and Good Landlord Program. “I’m thoroughly impressed by what we’ve achieved so far, which has also helped me realize that there’s a lot more we can do,” says Greiner. “Fortunately, we have a solution that’s easily extensible and highly flexible, along with a great partner in CyberTech. The greatest challenge lies in deciding where to take it next. We’re looking at anything and everything that we can put into SharePoint Server or visualize on a map.”
With its RTCC, Ogden P.D. is increasing officer safety and effectiveness, handling calls more quickly, and improving situational awareness and command decision making. The department was able to realize these benefits quickly and without additional budget, leading to a strong and rapid return on investment. “At the end of the day, our mission is to make Ogden a safer community,” says Greiner. “The RTCC is helping us actively catch the bad guys, and to do so more safely and efficiently.”
Increased Situational Awareness
The main goal of the crime center is to improve situational awareness for the officer in the field as a means of increasing officer safety and effectiveness. From the department’s experience so far, the RTCC is exceeding expectations in those areas. “Part of my job is to make sure that every officer goes home to his or her family at the end of each shift,” says Greiner. “By feeding them the right information at the right time, we’re able to both increase officer safety and fight crime more effectively.”
Weloth sites domestic violence calls as a good example. “When you’re dispatched to a domestic violence call, your primary concern is getting there as fast as possible to prevent injury—there’s no time to stop and do your research,” he says. “At the same time, you need to know whether you’re walking into a potentially explosive situation. With the RTCC, officers are provided with that information while en route to the call.”
Weloth recalls his own experience as a patrol officer as another example of how the RTCC is helping patrol officers be more effective. “When I was an officer, we would sit through the morning briefing, drive out to our patrol area, and spend the rest of the day with very little information on where crime was happening—for example, I would have no clue that I was driving down a street with 10 active arrest warrants. To a patrol officer, having that information is pure gold.” Capacity to Handle More Calls
In the past, officers had to proactively request information from dispatchers and then wait for it to be assembled and delivered after arriving at a call, which increased the time to handle such calls. “Since 1975, we’ve grown from 125 to 144 officers while the number of calls for service has increased by 400 percent,” says Greiner. “By delivering the information that officers need while they’re en route, we can handle more calls and respond to them faster. We haven’t been up and running long enough to quantify improvements in these areas, but it’s clear that the RTCC is making a difference.”
||In just a few months, on our existing budget, we were able to put in place new law enforcement capabilities that many big cities would envy.
Chief of Police, Ogden Police Department
Weloth wholeheartedly concurs with Greiner’s assessment. “We’ll need six to 12 months to get a good set of data,” he explains. “That said, all signs point to success in our ability to both decrease response times and increase the number of arrests.”Improved Planning and Incident Command
The RTCC is also proving beneficial to the command staff, giving them greater insight into how to deploy departmental resources. “The vast majority of Ogden citizens don’t need policing; it’s a relatively few repeat offenders that consume the vast majority of our time,” says Greiner. “The RTCC helps us focus our resources when and where crime is happening, instead of just flooding an area with officers and hoping for the best.”
Weloth cites how the solution is helping Ogden P.D. address the backlog of warrants. “We usually serve four or five warrants on any given day,” he explains. “By mapping locations with the highest warrant concentration— such as addresses with which more than one warrant is associated—we were able to serve 47 warrants in one morning.”
The value the RTCC provides for incident command is just as strong. “If a major situation were to develop tomorrow, I’m confident that I could walk into the RTCC, immediately get a clear picture, and visualize the situation in way that would help me deploy resources and ensure public safety,” says Weloth.Rapid Implementation and Results
With Fusion Core Solution and expertise from CyberTech, Ogden P.D. was able to get its RTCC up and running quickly. Due to the solution’s intuitive, user-friendly interface, it only took a month for the personnel who now staff it to fully come up to speed. “Fusion Core Solution was, as promised, a true ‘quick-start’ solution,” says Greiner. “We went from idea to fruition in about four months, including the time to train personnel. The biggest part of the project was remodeling the room in which the RTCC now resides. CyberTech did the bulk of the implementation in 30 days, which was less time than we spent remodeling the room.”
Low Costs and Strong Return on Investment
The solution was easily affordable because the department was able to take advantage of existing IT assets. “After we started to look into Fusion Core Solution, we realized that we already had most of what we needed,” Greiner says. “Total costs for the RTCC were well within my everyday signing authority as Chief of Police.”
Given the strong benefits that Ogden P.D. has experienced, Greiner encourages other midsized agencies to explore similar investments. “Many police chiefs need to turn on their computers, learn how to use them, and stop asking their secretaries to print out their email messages,” he states. “We had no clue what ArcGIS and SharePoint could do—especially when combined—until we started asking questions. In just a few months, on our existing budget, we were able to put in place new law enforcement capabilities that many big cities would envy.”Microsoft Government
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