Where do the good ideas come from?
In this column, we offer our readers the opportunity to learn about - and benefit from - some of the cutting-edge technologies being implemented by law enforcement colleagues around the world.
Texas Town Acquires
Digital In-Car Video System
IBM announces that it will equip the cruiser fleet of the Tyler, Texas, Police Department with a digital video system designed to allow officers to capture video of traffic stops and criminal activity in progress. The company and the police department expect the system to help in the fight against crime and to save the department as much as $50,000 a year in labor, management, and supply costs.
Tyler also plans to add wireless capability to the system, enabling the transmission of live video images from the cruisers to the police department in near real time, according to Police Chief Gary Swindle.
"IBM's digital video system represents a revolution in video recording, a tool for helping improve safety, and a potential cost-saving device all in one," said Chief Swindle. "It is a welcome addition to the infrastructure that supports one of the most important jobs in the world-the job of serving the public."
IBM's in-car digital video system is designed to continuously record images and sound onto a 40- or 60-gigabyte hard drive. When an officer turns on the vehicle's overhead pursuit lights, the previous four minutes of video and audio are saved and recording continues until the officer turns off the system.
Installed in each of the department's 60 cruisers, the IBM in-car solution, will collect data via digital video cameras mounted in the cars as well as from audio microphones worn by the police officers. The data will be fed to ruggedized computer hard drives in the vehicles.
At the end of an officer's shift, he or she will remove the hard drive, bring it into police headquarters, and upload any recorded images into a central data repository capable of storing 4.35 terabytes of data-the equivalent of nearly one million full-length novels.
Tyler has a population of more than 87,000 and covers 52.7 square miles.
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West Virginia Launches
Digital Communications Network
Motorola announces that the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR) has installed a wide-area digital system designed to enable interoperability between field officers and public safety agencies.
The $2 million wide-area Astro digital system is believed to be the first such system in the state. The DNR purchased the system last fall from Motorola, which has just finished the installation stage. As soon as the final programming database is completed, the mobile units will be installed in all vehicles and the system will go into full operation. The VHF system allows field officers to communicate to existing state and local public safety agencies that are also using VHF systems.
The new system, which replaces an older low-band system, includes 28 tower sites, six dispatch locations at each of the division's headquarters, XTS 5000 and Astro Spectra mobile and portable two-way radios, and Motorola's new Command Star consoles with control stations.
"In my more than 25 years of service with the Division of Natural Resources, this may be the best piece of equipment ever issued to our officers," said DNR Lieutenant Charles W. Schollar in Beckley. "We have been on the system for about six weeks now and compared to the old low band system, the new Motorola high band system is tremendous."
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State and Federal Agencies Deploy
Mapping Tool at G-8 Summit
The Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) announces that the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) used its mapping tool to coordinate planning and response during the recent G-8 summit of world leaders at Sea Island, Georgia. The Geographic Tool for Visualization and Collaboration (GTVC) was developed by the GTRI and funded by the Georgia Emergency Management Agency. The agency made the tool available to state and federal agencies during the event to coordinate their responses in real time.
Extensive state planning and tight security helped prevented any significant law enforcement problems during the G-8, and GTVC's developers and users were pleased with the enhanced system. GTVC provided many new features for its G-8 use , including maps with six-inch resolution for G-8 areas of interest. Researchers also boosted GTVC's reliability and robustness, and added secure encryption for communications.
"GTVC proved to be an extremely useful tool," said Ralph Reichert, director of the GEMA Terrorism Emergency Preparedness and Response Division. "Using GTVC, law enforcement teams were able to monitor and track activities in a manner that kept them one step ahead of protestors. . . . Furthermore, and probably most importantly, command staff could immediately get a snapshot of what was going on without relying solely on traditional voice communications."
Other agencies using GTVC during the summit were the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Georgia State Patrol, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National Guard, and the U.S. Secret Service.
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