Part four of our "Tech is Doing What?!" series
"Law Enforcement organizations today are required to find new ways to save money, reduce the number of administrative hours doing paperwork and increase our hours in the community.” states Captain Richard Hickey of the Brentwood Police Department in Tennessee.
That’s a key quote that I believe resonates with virtually every public safety agency in the world and one I’d like to come back to later, but first:
Back in 2010 I was an early adopter of a revolutionary piece of hardware called the Livescribe Echo smartpen and I was a fervent user of a digital note taking and archiving app called Evernote. The Livescribe pen allowed me to use something I already carried with me everywhere, a pen, but make it more useful for my everyday life. You see, I was taking a copious amount of notes daily but it wasn’t much use to my colleagues when they were locked away in my own notebook. And transcribing my notes for the benefit of others simply never happened. It was inefficient. So when I coupled my cool new smartpen with my digital brain, Evernote, I was the most popular guy around the office. Now I would sit in a meeting, activate my digital pen, capture the audible conversations around me, sync it with my handwritten notes and upload it to the cloud for instant access by my colleagues. Suddenly, there was a whole new level of efficiency and collaboration within my teams. It was fantastic.
I haven’t used a traditional pen and paper for note taking since; instead, I have Evernote installed on my laptop, tablet and smartphone, which coincidentally I take everywhere, so I can access my digital brain anytime and anywhere. It’s made my life vastly simpler. Digital notebook tools like Evernote or OneNote have become increasingly popular with consumers as they have witnessed the same benefits as I have. But how does this play to public safety?
Thankfully, in the public safety world a similar revolution is occurring, particularly in the documentation process that occurs during incidents and investigations. It’s a change that, in many ways, is long overdue. Up until recently, most agencies were still collecting incident information and investigation evidence the old-fashioned way—pen and paper, then transcribing it. The process was inefficient for multiple reasons. Information was collected on several devices (camera, audio recorder, notebook, etc) - all of which had to be accessed separately. Officers or detectives would take notes in the field, then type them up when they’ were back at the station, upload the notes to a DVD and send it to the DA’s office. This process could take hours to complete, resulting in wasteful time at the office and less time on the streets.
Imagine an officer called to the scene of a hit and run accident. The documentation process involves filling out an accident report, taking pictures of the scene, conducting interviews with involved parties and more. All this information then has to be manually compiled and entered into the local records management system (RMS). Not only is this a waste of already limited police resources – but, by the time this process is completed and shared, a potential suspect may have already fled making apprehension more difficult or limited awareness of the details may result in lost man hours.
But now, a growing number of agencies are benefiting from the explosion of smart devices to streamline their operations with public-safety-focused digital notebooks. By leveraging the power of their smart devices, these new digital tools enable rapid mobile investigations and field documentation with faster ways to share and collaborate, all while maintaining a secure chain of custody.
For instance, in September 2014, the Midland Police Department implemented SceneDoc, whose digital notebook software provides a secure method of documenting crime, accidents and other incident scenes for law enforcement and other public safety personnel. With this technology their officers and investigators can now take notes on any mobile device and instantly share that data with key stakeholders. Chief Osborne of the Midland Police Department said “SceneDoc represents a major advancement in policing…one that will improve accuracy and increase productivity.”
Remember my opening quote? Well the Brentwood Police Department in Tennessee, also added SceneDoc’s solution to their operations in 2014. The adoption came as part of a money-saving initiative, but also to help “reduce the number of administrative hours doing paperwork and increase our hours in the community” says Captain Richard Hickey. This was accomplished by leveraging their existing resources in new, innovative ways through digital note taking. In fact, SceneDoc estimates that their technology reduces traditional documentation time from 4 hours to about 45 minutes, nearly an 80% efficiency improvement. All that saved time can be reused in more effective ways.
Similarly, a detective at the Harrison Police Department in Arkansas noted that Harrison’s adoption of mobile evidence gathering software, iCrimeFighter “saves us at least 30 minutes per case.” The Watauga Police Department in Tennessee’s adoption of the software allows them to “spend less time juggling multiple pieces of equipment” and “better focus on gathering the evidence and statements” they need, according to officer Amos Halava.
With the increasing scrutiny on law enforcement agencies in the US, community-led policing has experienced a resurgence for many departments. This is a trend we’ve noted elsewhere—community interactions are more important for agencies than ever before to rebuild confidence, and intelligent technologies like digital public safety notebooks enable officers to do this in new and better ways. Digital notebooks may not provide a new way to engage the community, but by increasing efficiency they do provide officers with more time to do so in traditional ways.
Less screen time = more face time. If you can reduce the amount of time staring at the screen in your hand, in the car, or behind a desk and reallocate that time to engaging the members of your community, then it stands to reason that implementing digital notebooks can play a part in strengthening community relations. Time on the street building more effective neighborhood watches and other crime-prevention techniques ultimately reduce crimes and improve the quality of life for everyone in a community. And a few hours less at the desk per case, per person, over the course of weeks and months can make a major positive impact-- all while saving money and maybe, just maybe, bringing you closer to your community and strengthening their confidence.
Read more blogs by Steve here.
Photo Credit: Justin See
But when the unexpected happens, Service from the Start with Comprehensive Coverage ensures you are protected and helps extend the lifespan of your devices
In mission-critical lines of business, the cost of device downtime can have dramatic implications: employee safety, decreased productivity and loss of revenue. Your devices must be rugged and reliable enough to get the job done every time, in any setting. Our customers work in environments that challenge them with extreme temperatures, exposure to chemicals or drops on concrete surfaces. You need a service plan that will protect against normal wear and tear and accidental breakage to eliminate headaches, unexpected expenses and disruptions to operations. A service plan can also help to ensure your devices are repaired or replaced quickly and back in service to keep your operations running smoothly. Below we show some of the industries where you’ll find our products put to the test on a daily basis:
Motorola radios are built to perform well in rugged environments and extreme situations. Nevertheless, we recognize that accidents happen. Those unexpected repairs can put a severe dent in your budget. One of the best solutions to protecting yourself against the cost of unexpected repairs and extending the life of your devices is a service plan that keeps you covered for longer. There’s no doubt, your radios represent a substantial investment. As with any critical investment, it makes sense to protect it and maximize its value.
Motorola’s Service from the Start with Comprehensive Coverage is a unique offering that provides fast repair turnaround times and expert technical support; all backed by Motorola’s globally integrated services infrastructure, highly trained support technicians and certified repair facilities. You’ll get coverage beyond standard warranty, providing the protection you need to reduce your total cost of ownership and ensure devices are back in your hands quickly.
Corina Swaney is the Service Offer Manager – Lifecycle Support Management for Motorola Solutions.
View video about the key features and benefits of our Service from the Start offering for digital radios.
One of the most interesting things about working at Motorola Solutions is hearing from its engineers and designers, the magicians who conjure up new ways to invent or improve devices and solutions that end up delighting our customers and capturing design awards. Today, Product Engineer David Chambers will talk about his adventures with the APX radio platform.
Q: Can you tell us about your experiences working with APX audio in the field and how it compares to the audio of Motorola Solutions’ competition?
A: I’m an 18-year-Motorolan, currently working for the Product Engineering team in Plantation, Florida. I’ve had the opportunity to do extensive work with Motorola Solutions’ Public Safety and first responder customers. A significant part of my work involves visiting and working directly with our customers to study and understand their unique and often extreme environments that can cause audio and usability issues. My work in public safety audio quality has taken me all over the United States and around the world; I’ve spent time working with very large, urban public safety customers as well as small townships with fewer than 20 subscribers. I have seen firsthand how the APX radios are used in the field and the significant impact APX audio quality has on improving public safety and first responder communications.
During my time working in radio audio quality, I’ve been able to test, measure, and quantify the audio performance of many of Motorola’s competitors in the lab as well as in the field with customers. There are many APX audio characteristics that outperform the competition.
As an example, most two-way radios in the market have some level of noise suppression available, some relying upon the basic noise suppression that is included with a Phase 2 compliant P25 vocoder and others having a more customized noise suppression algorithm. From its adaptive dual microphone design (the radio recognizes speech inputs from all input angles) to its noise suppression being applied in all radio modes (Digital P25, Analog, Secure), the APX noise suppression design outperforms all other current two-way radios in the market. Also the APX7000 radio speaker output remains the loudest two-way portable radio on the market. The loud and efficient APX7000 radio speaker output gives better audio clarity and “punch through” in high noise environments.
Another aspect of the audio that sets the APX portable radio apart from the competition is the flexibility and customization of the radio’s audio quality. Customers in the same vertical market do share common radio usage and protocols. But I’ve found through my experiences working with customers from all over the world that the devil is in the details. Knowing and understanding customer-specific differences and having customizable APX radio audio features available allows for proper optimization of a customer’s audio quality. No other radio on the market has the same level of audio customization that our APX radios offer.
Q: Can you tell us about the innovation opportunities for making APX audio better and how our experience and technological innovation makes it possible to do so?
A: One of the most important factors in determining potential audio improvements is user input. Motorola is very customer-focused. We draw upon our extensive experience working with our customers to continually identify areas where our audio quality can be improved. Simply put, we listen to what our customers have to say. We can then translate customer feedback into technical requirements and product innovations as part of our roadmap. But it all starts with the customer.
We know we are not perfect. There are areas of improvement that can be made with our APX radio audio quality. We know this because our customers have helped to identify areas of improvement. The knowledge and experience that Motorola Solutions has earned over decades of servicing and interacting with customers will continue to help drive our product innovation.
Regarding our two-way radio business, Motorola Solutions has a legacy of creating the most dependable, best-sounding radios on the market. Our APX portable radio platform has set the bar for two-way radio audio quality performance since it first shipped in 2009. We do not rest on our laurels. Even though our APX portable radios are still considered the best-performing products on the market, we are continually investigating, developing and innovating new technologies and methods for our products. APX audio is no exception to our culture of continual product improvement.
Q: Tell us how you think we have taken the APX audio to the next level with the APX 8000, and how that will affect end users – how will its capabilities play out in real-life scenarios?
A: Creating best-in-class audio quality can be a balancing act. What can be improved in one area, can have negative impacts in other areas of performance. For instance, increasing microphone sensitivity gain will help bring up low talkers but will also increase the potential for higher background noise. From an audio quality improvement standpoint, how can we increase the audio quality positives while limiting the negative consequences? A solution to this is to make the audio technology more adaptive to the environment that the radio is in. This Adaptive Audio Engine concept is the foundation for which the following APX8000 audio enhancements were built upon.
I’ve always been a firm believer of “testing it for yourself” and that is what I convey to the customers I work with. The best way to familiarize yourself with our audio technology is to ACTUALLY experience that technology for yourself in person. You have to see it. You have to use it. You have to hear it. Reading and researching about our radio products is highly recommended. Talking with a Motorola SME (Subject Matter Expert) regarding a radio product is also highly effective. But, witnessing while experiencing in person our radio product’s technology and performance will always have the most profound and lasting impact.
The audio quality from our current APX portable radio offerings is still industry leading. The new adaptive audio technology designed into the APX8000 radio builds upon our best-in-class APX audio. Experience the difference that an APX8000 radio can make. Experience the new level of “best-in-class” two-way radio audio quality with the new APX8000 portable radio.
David Chambers is a Principle Staff Engineer for the Current Products Engineering team and a Subject Matter Expert in two-way radio audio quality. During his 18 years with Motorola Solutions, David has been involved with the design and advancement of the audio quality performance for multiple radio platforms. For the past seven years, David has done extensive work with Motorola Solutions’ Public Safety and First Responder customers, visiting and working directly with them to study and understand their unique and often extreme environments that can cause audio and usability issues.
Audio demonstrations for the APX8000 at IWCE showcased the radio’s audio capabilities in simulated, real world environments
You've spent millions of dollars on radios and communications equipment. But, how well do you know the status of all that deployed equipment?
One of our large radio customers, a police department, recently had to re-band their radios, and during that process, they realized that over 30% of their radios were unaccounted for! That’s a scary thought considering how much a radio can cost. With some quick analysis, the organization realized an asset management solution would pay for itself within a few short months. They decided right then and there to purchase the solution.
Motorola’s Asset Management software is a low-cost way to track and manage your communication equipment. The first thing almost every customer tells us after they start using the Asset Management software is how pleased they are to know that they have visibility and accountability of their system, and that the solution has paid for itself several times over.
Adopting an asset management plan doesn't have to be labor-intensive and the payback is almost instantaneous. The solution’s ability to organize practically any asset in a list view to easily see attributes or search for more specific details makes it very valuable. Imagine easily creating work orders for equipment failures out in the field for faster resolution.
Another key benefit? A streamlined workflow. One particular agency had a very inefficient approval process for transferring their subscriber radios. Any time they wanted to issue out a radio or transfer it to another agency, they had to print out a piece of paper, manually sign it and then file it. There was no electronic copy or centralized way to verify that an approval was completed other than searching through a bunch of unorganized folders.
Now they've streamlined this process with the Asset Management mobile application which allows them to capture and save signatures from a mobile device by simply signing with their finger or a stylus. With this centralized database, they've streamlined their data storage and tracking process to be as simple as “sign and save.”
Learn more about the benefits of Asset Management by watching the video below:
Jeff Cegielski is Offer Manager for Asset Management at Motorola Solutions.
Click here to read more about Motorola’s Asset Management Solution.
View the Motorola Asset Management Dashboard.
Communications systems are the cornerstone of today’s businesses and as the volume of applications and capabilities expands, the impact of system downtime grows exponentially. The old saying that time is money holds true. In the United States, the average business loses $7,900 per minute of downtime, which can result from any of the following:
- Loss in employee productivity
- Cost to remediate system issues
- Financial impact of customer dissatisfaction
- Contract penalties
- Compliance violations
- Missed deadlines that result in employee overtime
Self-Monitoring: In an effort to minimize costs, many organizations leverage in-house IT personnel to monitor their system. Organizations quickly realize that it is a time and resource intensive task which requires the proper set of tools, expertise and ongoing training. If the organization is not fully committed and staffed, system performance and availability can be compromised and resources will be inefficiently allocated to areas outside of the business’s core competencies.
Break-Fix Maintenance: Organizations operating in break-fix mode tend to wait for major issues to occur before initiating repair. The thought is that this practice will save costs by avoiding regular monitoring expenses. These organizations inevitably face degradation in system performance as they must wait, sometimes days, for unforeseen issues to be resolved and are often subject to expensive repairs and remediation costs. Communications systems aren’t foolproof – it takes just a single instance for a small, undetected issue to cascade into a major one. Unfortunately, for a number of organizations, it’s not until a disaster occurs that they understand the true cost of downtime and realize that their treatment of proactive maintenance as an afterthought must be turned into a priority.
Proactive maintenance is a philosophical shift in how an organization handles its technology. Rather than following the break-fix methodology, proactive maintenance involves identifying and resolving issues before they negatively impact an organization.
Network Monitoring is a reliable solution that serves as the eyes and ears of a business’s communications system, providing proactive 24x7x365 monitoring and features such as alerting, event handling and technical support. A properly monitored network is crucial to the performance of your business and in improving productivity and efficiency. With rapid response more critical than ever and system complexity on the rise, a reactive approach to network monitoring is no longer enough. By understanding the true cost that network downtime has on your business, you’ll know that the old saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is nothing but poor advice.
Scott Model is the offer manager for Network Monitoring for MOTOTRBO at Motorola Solutions.
Click here to learn more about Motorola’s Network Monitoring for MOTOTRBO.
In our 2014 Public Safety Survey, 70 percent of more than 1,300 surveyed said that getting data messages through was equal in importance to voice communications. In fact, interoperability, access to high-speed data in the field and the adoption of more data applications topped the list of agency priorities in last year’s edition of our annual survey.
Can body-worn cameras help keep officers safe and address questions about police conduct? Can social media help agencies communicate important information to the public more quickly? Or can agencies use social media to gain more information during an emergency?
Motorola is conducting the fifth annual Government and Public Safety Industry Survey and we want your input as we investigate the top trends in Public Safety communications technology in 2015. Make your voice heard on a variety of topics including the use of video, smart devices, and social media in public safety, as well as your expectations of Public Safety LTE and the affect it will have on Public Safety technology.
What will we learn this year? Take the survey now and, in gratitude for your participation, we will share the final report with you as soon as it is ready. We look forward to hearing what you have to say.
Tom Miller is Director of Intelligence Led Public Safety Solutions, Motorola Solutions.
To read the results from the 2014 Public Safety Survey, download the report here.