Mobile Workforce Solutions: Law Enforcement

This was a multi–phase systems development project which brought about a major transformation in the law enforcement systems of the City of Pittsburgh.  B–Three produced an integrated hardware/software solution, utilizing .NET forms for the user interface, with an Oracle database on the back end.

This breakdown summarizes the work handled by B–Three Solutions:

  • Computerizing the reports filled out by police officers investigating crimes.
  • Enabling officers to enter their reports via laptop computers in the squad cars.
  • Upgrading the Police Bureau’s crime plotting GIS application.
  • Implementing a customized data warehouse for crime investigators.
  • Enabling officers in the field to enter, print, and issue non–traffic and traffic citations.

Replacing Paper Reports
The first phase was to computerize the incident reports that are filled out by officers investigating crimes.  Paper reports were replaced by data entered directly into an Oracle database.  The application — the Automated Police Reporting System (APRS) — was initially rolled out to networked desktop computers in police stations throughout the City.  This phase had the impact of standardizing and upgrading the City’s crime data, streamlining the report approval process, and automating the propagation of data to other applications.

Beginning in this phase of the project, B–Three worked with Police Bureau personnel to develop and provide on–site classroom training for the users.  This aspect of the project was critically important to ensuring a smooth transition to the new system.  Pittsburgh’s police force includes more than 900 officers, and they were making the switch from a paper’based system to computerized reports.

This critical transition was addressed in the training associated with the first phase of the project, in which B–Three rolled out the desktop version of APRS.  The officers became familiar with the standard features of the report screens, such as drop–down lists and auto–population of fields in subordinate reports.  Just as important, they learned about important procedural points, such as the process for supervisor review and approval of reports.

“Mobilizing” the Application
The second phase produced a fully functional version of APRS that enables police officers to enter their reports via Mobile Data Terminals (MDTs — laptop computers equipped with Sprint Air Card technology) in the squad cars.  Incorporated into this application is the Remote Data Broker (RDB), a software product developed by B–Three Solutions.  The RDB is unique, because it does not rely on a persistent Internet connection.  The entry of report data by an officer is not affected by the loss of a connection.  The system will “push” the reports back to headquarters when the software detects a valid network connection, thus ensuring that data is never lost.  The RDB also handles the rollout of software upgrades to all of the individual MDTs in the field.  There is no need to bring the units to a central location for upgrading, or for support staff to travel to each unit.

Upgrading GIS Application
MapStats, a GIS application, was upgraded.  The Police Bureau uses the MapStats crime plotting system to analyze trends in criminal activity and deploy its resources effectively.  MapStats utilizes the ArcSDE component of ESRI’s ArcIMS environment.  Crime data comes from the APRS Oracle database.  B–Three upgraded MapStats to Version 9 of ArcIMS, and also updated the census data used by the application.

Empowering Crime Investigators
The Modus Operandi (MO) system was created for use by Pittsburgh’s crime investigators.  The MO system operates against a data warehouse in which hundreds of thousands of APRS reports have been optimized for searching.  Customized algorithms give investigators the ability to perform complex queries against the data.

Creating eCitations Module
After APRS had been in use city–wide for more than a year, the application was expanded to include an eCitations module.  By means of eCitations, a police officer in the field can enter, print, and issue non–traffic and traffic citations.  The design of the application will readily accommodate an anticipated future upgrade — scanning of the barcode on a driver’s vehicle registration.