In the early morning hours of February 4th, 2007, Director of the Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD) Communications Bureau, Tom Gross, is facing what will be the largest public safety challenge of his career. In a matter of hours, thousands will filter into Dolphin Stadium for SuperBowl XLI, posing a massive logistics challenge for the Miami-Dade Police Department and collaborating public safety agencies. Tom is responsible for coordinating the mission-critical technology and communication plans that will keep all 74,512 attendees and the on-duty MD police officers safe during this nationally treasured event.
In addition to successfully coordinating the communication plans for both SuperBowl XLI and SuperBowl XLIV, Tom was also directly involved in the successful design and implementation of the LightSpeed Project, an advanced NEXTGEN ready IP Command Center in his role with the Miami-Dade Police Department. These anecdotes illustrate the expertise that Tom Gross brings to every project and implementation in his role as an industry expert on the Smart Public Safety Solutions team at Motorola. Tom leverages his prior experience with the MDPD when guiding public safety agencies throughout their transition to more integrated systems.
Tom is dedicated to the success of every implementation. It is his personal philosophy that the best way to ensure efficient staffing and streamline agency operations is through smart, guided integration of mission-critical technology and improved policing strategies. "Technological band-aids" do not work. In order to accomplish these goals, Tom believes that it is vital for agencies and their vendors to engage in clear, open and honest dialogue.
As a member of the Smart Public Safety Solutions team, Tom takes the time to evaluate and understand an agency's current processes in order to help them build a smarter department and ultimately, a safer community.
From a practical standpoint, why would I turn away from the processes I have been using, which have been paid for, and move toward a more integrated platform?
I do not recommend wholesale replacement of customers’ current data and information systems. First of all, if these systems were not providing an acceptable and valuable level of service, agencies would not be using them. Also, it takes time to develop these systems and to secure funding to purchase and maintain them. Most budget directors and funding authorities are cost conscious and they want to ensure that they are spending funds on operational systems that are expandable and scalable. Motorola’s goal is a true partnership with our customers. We want to understand their goals and objectives, evaluate their current systems and infrastructure and work together to develop a strategic plan to achieve their stated goals and objectives. This strategic plan then becomes the roadmap for future budget planning, system refresh and expansion planning.
How are other agencies implementing intelligence-led policing or situational awareness in their operations, in spite of budget constraints and reduced personnel?
This is a very common and real problem. Budgets have not yet returned to their previous levels and the loss of personnel due to retirements and downsizing are weighing on all public safety agencies. Many agencies have been doing more with less for some time. However, most agencies have personnel that track crime statistics, prepare CompStat type reports, and conduct analytical functions. It is possible to integrate all these functions into an automated data mining process that could free up man-hours to be redirected to Smart Public Safety Initiatives. Also, I wouldn’t overlook light duty personnel as a partial staffing option. Furthermore, a truly integrated solution utilizing one common operational view with federated data queries is easier to use than siloed systems. So if we have to do more with less, we should be working as efficiently as possible and utilizing automation to reduce total man-hours.
What are your thoughts on the usefulness of video to public safety, particularly body-worn cameras?
Video is an important part of public safety. Of course, every agency is a little different and each solution should be somewhat customized for that particular agency. In-car video captures the images from the activity taking place in-front of the patrol vehicle and in the prisoner compartment of the car, while a body-worn solution records the interactions of an emergency responder away from the vehicle. Each solution brings unique perspectives and challenges, and it is ideal to determine the various uses for each platform during a strategic planning session.